Do you know how your chicken was raised?

When I go to the supermarket for chicken, I choose the chicken breasts with the most meat or with the lower price. I don’t pay attention to labels indicating “farm fresh”, “free range” or “organic” on my produce. My main goal is to get more food for a bargain. After reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer, I may now prefer organic food versus the cheapest one. Immanuel Kant also describes-Duties towards animals and spirits (p. 239), where he believes one can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of his animals. I can correlate this key point with the turkey farmer in Eating Animals because he is the Last Poultry Farmer. You can say he raises the “Cadillac” of turkeys by not cutting off anything, not vaccinating, no antibiotics given to his birds. His turkeys exercise all day and have naturally strong immune systems. His turkeys don’t get sick or die frequently like other farm raised animals. He doesn’t have extra security for outsiders trying to discover inhumane practices of animals. He does not mutilate them, manipulate the lighting and transports them at night when they’re calmer. He specifically has a certain number of turkeys in the trailer and they’re held upright, not hung by their feet. At his processing plant they are removed off the trailer safely, which costs him twice as much for him to slow down the process and have them processed one by one by hand. He believes an animal should not suffer as they too have a life like humans. He understands we have to kill animals to eat, but the process shouldn’t make the animals suffer by living in their feces for more than six weeks, no sunlight, over-crowding, their nails curled around their cages, or feeling their slaughters. He truly cares about his animals which shows he cares about others by doing what is right. He’s only trying to convince people to live by what is right. I think if we all knew how our food was processed, we would think twice what we feed our families. I wished all our food was processed like this turkey farmer, however our society demands low-priced food and high-quantity at all times.

I love all foods, meat, seafood, poultry, and vegetables. However, I now care where my food comes from and how it can affect my family and I’s health in the future if the cheaper poultry has been injected with steroids or raised in a “farm”. I also believe our food has a great impact on how our health decreases over time from all the different types of injections the animals receive and from their living conditions. Foer states organic means-raised on organic feed (crops raised without most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, to be traced through their life cycle (paper trail), not be fed antibiotics or growth hormones, and have access to outdoors.

I was stunned to know how a modern day farm operates. The farmer will house chickens in an area with no windows for sunlight because they control the light for production. Light manipulation allows them to produce more eggs throughout the year instead of only in the spring. Next, they are hauled to the processing plant with no food or water. They are shackled by their feet and hung upside down and the conveyor systems runs them through an electric bath. Some birds are not dead immediately, and someone has to slit their throat. After the heads and feet are removed, a machine rips them open to remove it’s guts, releasing feces into the birds cavity. A USDA inspectors examines a bird in TWO seconds inside and out, both carcass and other organs for different diseases and abnormalities. The inspector looks at 25,000 birds per day. Journalist Scott Bronstein wrote a remarkable series for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about poultry inspection. He interviewed nearly a hundred USDA poultry inspectors from thirty-seven plants-

Every week, millions of chickens leaking yellow pus, stained by green feces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors, or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers.”

More from the article by Bronstein:Playing Chicken on food safety:

The government has had plenty of time to decide whether to require training for plant employees; the 2001 audit recommended it to ensure “that plant personnel are as competent as federal inspectors.”

The agency hasn’t heeded the advice. “It would [be] appropriate for the establishment to determine the type of training its employees need,” FSIS says.

Other countries with similar inspection programs keep their meat or poultry plants on a shorter leash:

– In New Zealand, the USDA requires that company workers receive training equivalent to that of a U.S. federal inspector — a much higher standard than it is proposing here — if the plant exports meat to the U.S.

– Employees at Australian plants that export meat must undergo about 500 hours of training to inspect meat.

– In Canada, the government trains plant workers for two months before they may inspect poultry.

Article: Playing Chicken on Food Safety

There is only artificial light, no fresh air, and huge fans circulate the stale ammonia filled air. Chicken meat is perfect for our fast food culture.  A producer can ‘grow’ a chicken within a few weeks with super large breasts, and minimizing overheads through economies of scale (a.k.a. animal abuse) and remitting very poor wages to his/her unskilled employees. Article: Playing Chicken on Food Safety

Next, the chickens go through a refrigerated tank to be cooled. These water tanks care called “fecal soup” by immersing clean and dirty birds in the same tank, which equals cross-contamination.

From the beginning most farms treat their chickens far from regular animals and more high-profit, high-quantity product. This is my substantial post on a topic I can justify with morality,  I don’t follow politics frequently, but I do believe in morality is a big part of our culture whether it’s practiced at work, school, or in this case how our food is processed. I don’t agree with the process of these “farms” and would love to become an activist to change these huge corporations. The only way to force them, is there were strict laws on processing animals or at least a type of process that includes extensive training, inspection and no cross-contamination between clean and dirty animals.

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13 Responses to Do you know how your chicken was raised?

  1. bmfdub says:

    It really is interesting, if not horrifying, where exactly our food comes from. There is a tremendous disconnect between farm and table that seems to be rapidly snowballing. There is a population to feed and feed cheap enough that it can grow. Capitalism breeds this kind of behavior in every sector of the economy. And yet, there still is not enough to go around.

    While it is difficult to say that these measures are necessary, are they not a byproduct of our dreams to feed everyone? But then does it really feed everyone? I personally know a few individuals who would be ever so grateful for the chicken described even if it was accompanied with the story of how it got to them.

    That is really the problem: the necessity of feeding a massive population does not justify how it is presently done. When the means fail to achieve the end, is it not necessary to find a means that does? The reality of the situation is that the market provides the legitimacy for these practices to continue. It is only when that market disappears will that reality change.

    The roommates I lived with for some time were pretty adamant on this subject. They were least fans of high-fructose corn syrup, a different topic but still very pertaining to food production. At first, I found it to be quite annoying when I went shopping. Looking at every label, checking for quality, learning what made food good rather than focused on the price tag was all a hassle (especially that last one). However, I shop at the same place every time anyways, and once you relearn what you like (i.e. what is good) out of there, it is just like any other shopping trip. Making looking at the price tag the second step in the decision process instead of the first changes the whole perspective.

  2. noodlemuncher says:

    If you have strong feelings about how meats are raised in the US, wait until you see the documentary “Food Inc”. Not only is the way the animals are raised terrible, but the negative impact on the farmers financial stability is just as bad. In the documentary, farmers who have been a part of the meat industry for so long know that showing the inside is bad for business. However, one brave soul decided that she was willing to let the cameras in so they may see how disgusting farming chickens were. Shortly after the documentary was release, all meat processing companies terminated their contracts with her; leaving her to sit on the massive debt she obtained from becoming a chicken farmer.

    Like bmfdub said, it will only exist if the market continues to do so.

  3. newyorker585 says:

    I am honestly scared to know where most of my food comes from. I have watched a dew documentaries on Netflix about the inhuman treatment of animals that we consume. I am stunned at the way veal is created and the fact that our animals are stuff full of hormones so that they can grew quicker and therefore get to our table quicker. I have yet to dive fully into the reading, but I am interested to find out what Mr. Foer thinks about what we are doing and how we are treating our livestock. I personally would like to raise all of my own produce and livestock, but we/I live in a large city and do not have the time or resources to raise livestock, plus I do not think that I could kill Betsy after raising her for so long.

  4. I can definitely agree with you and your views on purchasing chicken. I also purchase the lowest priced package of chicken, not knowing where it comes from. I personally think that I was raised with the idea that food is food and that we shouldn’t be picky on where it comes from. My mother was raised on a really small and poor farm in Mexico and she has told me her stories on how they tried to get food. Meat and chicken were seen as luxuries and that is why I don’t see myself as picky. However, I do find myself thinking on where does my food come from and I rather not think of that. Overall I liked your post because it sets things in our perspectives on how we don’t think twice on where out food comes from. I don’t know if I could raise my own produce or livestock to feed myself because I am too used to going to a store to purchase everything I need.

  5. deanwlover21 says:

    I am not the type of person who checks the labels on food or someone who wonders where my food comes from so reading this post was definitely eye opening for me. I agree with you when you say that there should be “…strict laws on processing animals or at least a type of process that includes extensive training, inspection and no cross-contamination between clean and dirty animals.” Moreover, I find it extremely cruel that the animals are subject to such horrible conditions before they are processed. There is no need for the animals to suffer before they die and I concur that something needs to be done about these horrible conditions.

  6. This is thoughtful and overall a reminder about how we should watch our diets. I definitely agree that I want to eat organic food, but the cost is so extremely high, many cannot afford this. I am curious by your remarks on stopping corporations from treating these animals inhumane. Are there any studies that would show that if we did not use the practices would there be a lack of food supplies for certain animals? The process seems to be time consuming and the business aspect would be tough to work around. I believe that treating animals inhumane is wrong and stuffing them with chemicals could be harmful to us, but how can we as a society put a stop to this? I do not ask these questions to challenge the ideas you have put forth, rather to find solutions that would be plausible. I believe that many Americans understand that the food they consume probably is not healthy for them and yet they still ingest it. Why? I thank you for this post because it has sparked my interest on the subject and I will now look into studies that would give me a better perspective on the issue. Maybe some of this research can help me answer some questions I have.

  7. It truly is heartbreaking to see what we as society has put these animals through. I attempted to go vegan back in high school and I will say that during that time I have never felt better! I always had energy, I didn’t feel groggy, and overall I felt amazing! However, it is SUPER expensive to eat that way. Eventually, I had to stop that life style and went back to eating meat. I understand that there is a huge disconnect between the “farm” and the dinning table in our homes but we must open our eyes to the ugly truth! These poor animals live a life of pain and horror for our own selfish needs. In a philosophy course I taken last year, we actually debated about this topic and someone showed a video of what happens to male chicks. They are separated from the females (since the females are what we eat) and the baby male chicks who were just hatched a couple of hours ago fall to their death into a grinder. These innocent precious birds are crushed to death and yet no one bats an eye! I could not help myself but tear up because no living thing should ever endure that.
    As you stated, WE MUST DEMAND A CHANGE! Now, that I am older I’d much rather pay an extra couple bucks for organic food than pay a ridiculous amount for medical bills because of my poor health due to my poor diet. The way the food industry is will only be our downfall.

    Kevin’s Law is a devastating story about a mother who lost her son due to our food industry:
    “On Tuesday, July 31, 2001, two weeks after we returned home, Kevin awoke with diarrhea and a mild fever. On the evening of August 1st, we took him to the emergency room for bloody diarrhea but were sent home. By the next morning, Kevin was much sicker and was hospitalized for dehydration and bloody stools. Later, that afternoon, we were given the diagnosis: E.coli O157:H7. On August 3rd, Kevin’s kidneys started failing. He had developed the dreaded HUS. Late that night he was transferred to the Pediatric ICU at the University of Wisconsin’s Children’s Hospital. Mike and I spent the next eight days living in that hospital – watching our beautiful son slip away from us.”

    If you would like to read more about it check out this site: http://www.foodborneillness.org/kevin-s-story.html

  8. Bill Murry says:

    Over the past couple of years I have been trying to eat less meat or meat that is organic, free-range, humanly raised or wild caught fish. I thought that I was doing the right thing but after reading Foer’s book “Eating Animals” I am done with meat altogether. The animals are genetically modified to the point that the typical turkey that we buy and eat is no longer able to reproduce on its own. This is not food, this is a science experiment. These animals suffer though a life in the factor farms and then they are shipped off to be cruelly slaughtered, all so me can have cheap meat. We buy this food because it is cheap and then we throw about half of it away, as meals we don’t finish or food that spoils. Factory farms are the number one cause of global warming, Foer writes nearly1/3 of the land surface of the planet is dedicated to livestock. Their waste runs into our oceans and kills them or pollutes our drinking water. Seafood is fished by scooping out large net fulls of fish with no regard for other ocean life. All incidental catches will be thrown back into the ocean dead or dying. Foer writes about sick animals that are just thrown in the trash to suffer. We have come so far away from our relationship with animals that we no longer see them as living creatures that should be cared for, respected and thanked for their sacrifice, instead now we just see them as garbage. The factory farm industry says that they are just giving us what we want, cheap always available meat. I don’t think that it is right to blame the consumers for their behavior it is greed that drove them to behave this way and as a consumer I don’t want it. I am not going to eat their shit.

  9. anndia321 says:

    Is there a morality in the way we treat animals? Does bad treatment of animals make someone less moral and/ or not a good person? I say yes. I believe the way we treat animals is indicative of the way people will treat other people, perhaps not killing or torturing them the way they do chickens, but with a lack of empathy for life. The fact is that we (the consumers) are the reason companies treat animals so brutally. If the consumer did not demand the cheapest, biggest and most meat, but instead insisted on only buying from the most respectable and compassionate of farmers then they would be forced to change their behaviors. But as Americans we cannot tolerate sacrifice or going without for the sake of any cause. It’s ironic that the U.S. not only has the worst and fastest mass production of meat (chickens and slaughter houses), but also has the most obese people of any country. American consumers can be selfish and self-serving and until there is a change in the culture, nothing will change in our food production industry.

  10. jamietraxler says:

    I have read many articles and books before about inhumane treatment of animals and it is sad how degrading it is for these animals all to save a couple dollars. Not only are these animals sitting in all different types of nasty things, we put that into our bodies. It is also degrading to us that we live in a society that destroys us. We are the only animal species in the world that drinks another species’ milk. Drinking milk is not a natural thing to do unless you are a baby. I think it’s very irresponsible of the FDA and the usda to have control of the food and chemicals we put into our bodies but they do a very poor job of doing so because of special interests and where their money comes from. It’s scary how food, something that is supposed to nourish us has become so detrimental to society.

  11. sethalger says:

    As the certified bomb thrower of the class (yes I am certified by the federal government) I would just like to throw some more on the subject. I am not attacking any one specifically, especially not marlenelopez867, she had some very good insight into the subject. But I would like to ask some questions. What do we want? Do we want to stop eating meat altogether so that we don’t have to kill these animals? Or do we just want to treat them more humanly before we ultimately slaughter them? The reason I bring this up is because in a society where we value liberty, we cannot force people to become vegans. We cannot do this on a global scale either. That being said, how could we make the lives of the animals more humane? This also depends on what everybody’s line in the sand is. Marlenelope867 talked about the last poultry farmer who treats his turkeys humanly, however, these turkeys as we discussed in class can become hundreds of dollars. This is not good because if we make this the norm, yes more people will do it, the prices will come down, but meat will still become a delicacy that only wealthy people enjoy. Is this what we want? I was discussing this in class with a fellow classmate and we discussed how we bring up these issues without having any practical solutions. We discussed how maybe we should make some slight changes like adding an inch by inch in the chickens’ box or something of the like. However, some people might not think that goes far enough. I just don’t see how this is going to change in our society today when we have billions of hungry people around the world and a demand so high that it could reach the sky. That being said, I also believe the problem is there, but the problem is not as great as the author would have us believe. He defiantly exaggerated his stories and said things out of context. The perfect example was the shit pool. The author talked about it in the book without clarifying that the poop is recycled as fertilizer which I thought was something we wanted to do. When these things are said in class I lose confidence in the author’s credibility. I however, am not a Pollyanna, I know there are small things that need to be changed. Little things that could make the animals lives a little easier, but also don’t keep me from my $1 cheeseburger.

  12. builder357 says:

    While it is certainly distressing to learn the cycle of the meat that we serve on our dinner tables, I think it is something most us of ignore. We choose to ignore it (myself included), as it is both an inhumane and unethical treatment of animals as well as a potentially serious health risk. If ever there was a situation for the adage, ignorance is bliss, the agricultural and food industry is it.

    The question arises as to what should be done (if anything can be done) to change it? As many of us have noted, going vegan isn’t always the answer. The agricultural industry itself has an overwhelming moral dilemma of GMO foods. The last election in both Colorado and Oregon failed to pass legislature on the required labeling of GMO. These are progressive states and if they can’t even label food as GMO, where do you think banning the use of GMO seeds will succeed? Ok, the EU and a few other countries, so it can be done if a nation is willing not to let big business overtake the welfare of a nation’s citizens. Since we now count corporations as people, I think the answer is we are truly screwed.

    Fortunately or unfortunately as the case may be, this is America, home of the largest (in more ways than one) consumers in the world. Those that are the 1%ers can avoid the nastiness of the Hormel and Swift big agro companies and shop in Whole Foods. Just take a look in Scottsdale WF and you can bet the vast majority of women with LV handbags shopping there didn’t vote for President Obama (I am not stating women are the cause, they are generally the ones who do the family shopping and TG they are smart enough to buy organic if they can).

    The food industry throughout the world is one big example of social inequity and if you think I am kidding, how do you think the current Ebola crisis started? People need to ingest some protein to survive and if all you can afford is the local bushmeat (bats etc), then you will take the risk to eat it (and be appreciative that you at least ate some type of meat). The food industry will never change until there is some redistribution of wealth worldwide. When corporations and money lose their power over social and economic actions, then change will take place. This is a serious moral dilemma that we are going to be forced to make as the world population increases, resources become scarcer and environmental damage escalates.

    Lastly while we are on the topic of chicken, I am not sure how many of us are aware of legislature that passed this July, allowing chicken to be raised and farmed in the U.S. to be shipped to China to be processed? Now I am not saying that there aren’t quality-processing plants in China, however I am saying that the reason any company outsources processing/manufacturing is purely for the Benjamins. I find this rather ironic, as Petco and Petsmart have banned the sale of dog treats made in China after the death of our beloved pets. This Chinese chicken (and I don’t mean the kind in the Bare Naked Ladies song) is to be sold to schools and in RTE meals (as if our military hasn’t sacrificed enough). The schools at least are allowed by USDA law to demand U.S. processed chicken. Food for thought as the saying goes.

  13. After reading your post, I kind of feel strong about my opinion and I would like to share with you here. The huge issue we have with animals is not as simple as the book said eating animal, it is also not the part where they talks about how bad animals has being treated. The issue is we need to come back and rethink the relationship between higher level animial aka human and animals in general. Are animals our friends? Does animal has the same right as we do? Does the animals are all independence items or are they our tools? The easiest example is the way we treat animals like dogs and cats are different than the way we treat chicken. Is that fair? Is dog or cat better than chicken? Do they have higher position than chicken? The way we treat chicken which we put them all in a narrow case might not exactly indicate we are bad people, It might just because we think chiken are our tools, they are only become valuable when we need use them(eggs or food). Because we think chickens are tools instead of animals, we treat them like we treat the knife, the hammer, the screwdriver and so on. We treat them the way we want because we don’t think them as animals, we think them as regular tools in our lives.What is the relationship between human and animals? That is the thing we need think before we discuss about eating or treating animals unfair.

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