So, we are driving down the road. On our way home from a holiday at the parents' house in western Missouri. Lovely countryside, those Ozarks!
Ok, so we are tooling along I-44, and we pass two semi trucks. They are both hauling chickens. Imagine this: A semi truck, stacked as high as it can be, with crates of chickens. Each chicken crate is about an inch bigger than each chicken. Wire. One could see right in.
These were freak of nature genetically bred oversized birds, too. OK, You know the size of a chicken breast at a restaurant? Think how big that is. Now, think about the last time you were on a farm and saw a real live chicken. Those are NOT the chickens that will yield the big chicken breast that's on your plate. No, in order to get one like that you need genetic mutation chickens. Like the ones in the truck.
These chickens were sick. Patches of featherless skin. Ripped and raw red, pink. White feathers flying at our windshield in the wind. Were the ones on the outside edge going 65 mph the lucky ones, or the ones stacked in the middle, in the dark, with barely enough air to survive the trip to the slaughter house? For that is surely where these poor animals were going. I couldn't decide which birds had it worse. But the all looked so bad.
And I cried, and the kids cried. Yes, I know. There is human suffering in the world, and we all need to be aware of it and do what we can to alleviate it in all its various forms. But part of being human is also treating the animals that are in our care in a humane way.
And after I cried, I thought: Eeeeeeeew! I eat that????? Imagine the stress those birds are under. Does stress leak into their flesh? Does sickness leak into their flesh? Does eating stress and illness cause stress and illness? Can this sort of thing really be good for US?
I've already been working hard on changing my shopping habits. Simpler, more from scratch. As much local and organic as I can manage within my budget. Fresh eggs, that sort of thing.
It will mean less chicken, but suddenly locally farmed free range chickens that have been treated well is very important to me.
There is so much broken with this world, and I can't fix it. But I've got a house full of sick kids here, and the least I can do is ask myself if feeding sick animals to sick kids is going to get us any healthier.
I think I know the answer to that one.