The next time you sit down to a chicken dinner, or even a bag of nuggets, you might give a thought to the chicken. Did it spend its life in an animal paradise like Joel Salatin’s Polyface Farm? Lots of fresh air, good food, sunlight, room to roam? Watch the video below.
Given the amount of chicken we consume here in the US, chances are much greater that it spent its short life in an enormous henhouse such as the one Craig Watts runs on contract for Perdue, one of the biggest “integrators” of poultry products in the country. The video below is pretty shocking.
Most commercial chicken operations in the United States are off-limits to anyone not in the industry – and the unusual filmed visit to the Watts farm by a representative of Compassion USA makes it all too clear why. Watts and Leah Garces part a dimly lit sea of sickly white birds panting for air, too oversized for their legs to keep them upright for long, as the camera zooms in on scenes too grisly to detail.
But hey, chicken’s chicken, right? As long as it tastes good, do we really need to worry about its previous address?
Take a look at both videos. Joel Salatin’s a wild and crazy guy, fired up, on a mission – and for sure his chicken doesn’t come cheap. Craig Watts is sober, a little sad, caught up in a system he now wants to change, and feeling bad about the product he’s providing to thousands of dinner tables at the low prices we’ve come to expect. Bad enough to threaten his livelihood with Perdue by exposing their practices.
And we get to think about, well, where would I want to live out my days if I were a chicken? And which chicken seems more appealing now that I’ve looked beyond the Styrofoam tray with the plastic wrap in the supermarket?
Of course there’s a vast middle ground between the two extremes of chicken production shown in these videos – including free-range birds grown by local producers, for instance. And little by little, as we learn more about factory farming and its various effects, US chicken eaters are growing dissatisfied with the chicken business as usual.