Monday, April 18, 2011

Foul or fowl?

Chicken is likely the most popular of all meats - everything from chicken nuggets, burgers, wings, fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, sandwich meats, ground chicken - you name it, they will make a meal out of it! But before you bite into that bucket of chicken or the pound of wings on special, do you ever think about where that chicken came from, how it was treated, killed and packaged for your consumption?

Each year there are more than 9 billion chickens, both males and females, are raised and killed for food in the United States alone. Worldwide over 50 billion chickens are now being slaughtered every year. Because of genetic manipulation for overgrown muscle tissue of the breast and thighs, these birds suffer miserably from painful lameness causing them to crouch and hobble in pain, from gastrointestinal and blood diseases, and chronic respiratory infections. The parents of these birds are raised in darkness and kept on semi-starvation diets to reduce the mating infirmities caused by forcing chickens bred for meat to grow too large too fast.

For the majority of theses birds, during their 45 days of life, “broiler” chickens live in semi-darkness on manure-soaked wood shavings, unchanged through several flocks of 30,000 or more birds in a single shed. Excretory ammonia fumes often become so strong that the birds develop a blinding eye disease called ammonia burn. So painful is this disease that afflicted birds rub their hurting eyes with their wings and let out cries of pain. These chickens are crowded by the thousands in cramped quarters to live out their days in pain, discomfort and fear.

Please be aware of the fact that these animals give their lives for your gastronomic pleasure. The least we can give them is some comfort and freedom for the short time they are share this planet with us. Everyone is anxious to make more money and make it faster. Pay a little bit more for chicken purchased from your local farmer where you can see them roaming free and enjoying some fresh air. Ask your butcher, grocer or favorite restaurant for organically, humanely grown chickens only. If they don't have it, go somewhere that does. The hormones that are given to these creatures to make them grow fast has to go somewhere - and that somewhere is in the meat you are consuming. That extra big juicy chicken breast doesn't grow like that naturally in just 45 days. Think about it. Be aware.

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