Okay, one last visit to the hen house. Just one more. I promise. Trust me, with all this pink slime discussion, I’m already focused on the barn…
You know I’ve been ranting about happy chickens, happy eggs, happy, happy, happy… So, when I stumbled upon Mark Bittman’s column touting the virtues of a “chicken substitute” that didn’t necessarily claim to taste like chicken… (But then, what really does, right? Can you even describe that chicken tastes like? Go ahead. Try. You get my point.) As I was saying, so when I stumbled upon A Chicken Without Guild, I was fascinated on many levels, and I felt the need to force-feed it to you. Better you than the chickens. They get force-fed all the time. I’ll give you two quick snippets, and then you can read the rest on your own.
Snippet 1: “Really: Would I rather eat cruelly raised, polluting, unhealthful chicken, or a plant product that’s nutritionally similar or superior, good enough to fool me and requires no antibiotics, cutting off of heads or other nasty things? Isn’t it preferable, at least some of the time, to eat plant products mixed with water that have been put through a thingamajiggy that spews out meatlike stuff, instead of eating those same plant products put into a chicken that does its biomechanical thing for the six weeks of its miserable existence, only to have its throat cut in the service of yielding barely distinguishable meat?
Why, in other words, use the poor chicken as a machine to produce meat when you can use a machine to produce “meat” that seems like chicken?”
Snippet 2: “Indeed. This country goes through a lot of chickens: We raise and kill nearly eight billion a year — about 40 percent of our meat consumption, compared with roughly 30 percent beef and 25 percent pork. Chickens are grown so quickly that The Veterinary Record has said that most have bone disease, and many live in chronic pain. (The University of Arkansas reports that if humans grew as fast as chickens, we’d weigh 349 pounds by our second birthday.)
I don’t believe chickens have souls, but it’s obvious they have real lives, consciousness and feeling, and they’re capable of suffering, so any reduction in the number killed each year would be good.
If that’s too touchy-feely for you, how’s this? Producers have difficulty efficiently dealing with the manure, wastewater and post-slaughter residue that result from raising animals industrially; chickens, for example, produce about as much waste as their intake of feed.”
I gotta tell you. It makes sense, whether I want it to or not. Whether you want it to or not. And my hens? They still get to happily graze in their pastures and lay pretty eggs. Life is good.