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Chicken Conditions

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It’s a positive that Perdue is improving the welfare of the chickens on the farms it contracts with. It’s creating new standards that include exposure to sunlight and exercise to make chickens’ lives less terrible. Of course, the treatment of farm animals is a national shame but efficiency and profit has gotten in the way of humane treatment. Public pressure on these issues is forcing Perdue to make some changes. Now, these changes are completely dependent on corporate culture and corporate willingness to enforce, so they are far from a solution. For that, you need outside regulations. But still, it’s a start.

I will also state that it would be nice if people cared about the conditions of workers on the factory farms as much as they cared about the chickens and pigs and cows. But alas, they don’t really care at all.

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  • DAS

    it would be nice if people cared about the conditions of workers on the factory farms as much as they cared about the chickens and pigs and cows. But alas, they don’t really care at all.

    “I aimed for the public’s heart, and . . . hit it in the stomach” – Upton Sinclair

  • Judas Peckerwood

    …it would be nice if people cared about the conditions of workers on the factory farms as much as they cared about the chickens and pigs and cows.

    Well, we’re not eating them (yet), so they should count themselves lucky.

    • DAS

      If I remember my H.G. Wells correctly, it’s the workers that eventually take to eating the upper classes. The workers have to eat something and upper class twits need to have so.e purpose for their existence after all

      • NBarnes

        Eat the rich
        There’s only one thing they’re good for
        Eat the rich
        Take one bite now, come back for more

  • Derelict

    When it comes to workers, people are far too inclined to think, “Eh, if the job sucks that hard, they should just quit and find other work.” Obviously this ascribes a level of agency, ability, and opportunity that is largely absent from the lives of most of these workers. But that’s the reasoning.

    The average chicken, on the other hand, doesn’t have much control over anything.

  • Captain Oblivious

    I wonder how much of this is really because of the massive industry losses caused by the recent avian flu epidemic, which was exascerbated by packing as many chickens as possible into the smallest possible space.

    • ThrottleJockey

      I’d guess that more of it has to do with the strong marketability of free range chicken.

      There is one thing that puzzles me: Aside from moral concerns about factory farming and the spread of super bugs, why does anyone care about antibiotic-free chicken? It appears that a lot of people have conflated antibiotic-free chicken with healthier, tastier chicken and I don’t understand that at all.

      I can’t really taste any difference between free range chicken and the factory farmed variety. The only reason I care about antibiotics and the food I eat is because the over use of antibiotics enables super bugs.

      • DAS

        If the chicken truly is free range (has a good amount of exercise, eats plenty of stuff you really, really do not want to think about), it’s somewhat dry and takes some care to properly prepare, but boy does it taste good. However most so called free range chicken is not really all that free range.

        • ThrottleJockey

          I have been surprised at how much differently chicken tastes in other countries. In France I found it too fatty. In Central Africa I enjoyed the flavor but found them scrawny. Those are the places that stand out the most.

          • When I was in South Korea, all the time I was served soup with chicken feet in them, but I swear I was never served any other form of chicken. Never did understand where the rest of it went.

        • DrDick

          It often tends to be rather tough (I have eaten a lot of real free range chickens) and is best slow cooked. The flavor, on the other hand, is wonderfully intense.

      • JohnT

        The superbug thing seems pretty damn important to me as well. Non-indicated antibiotic use for animals should have been banned a decade ago.

        The logic of a taste-based difference is presumably that in the absence of antibiotics you can only fight disease in chickens by raising them in less hellishly cramped conditions and giving them cleaner feed. I haven’t tasted enough chicken with only that label to tell.

        • DrDick

          Most of the differences in taste of meat has to do with diet and, to a lesser extent, exercise. Truly free range chickens get much more exercise (which is why they are not as tender) and eat a wide variety of seed and other plant based foods, as well as insects and other things you do not want to think about.

  • Gareth

    We actually have musical evidence of the situation before efficient chicken farming:

    “You tour the world in a private car, you dine on chicken and caviar, an actor’s life for me!”

    When Fozzy sang this on The Muppets, it always confused me that eating chicken was a sign of wealth.

    • skate

      I’ll bet Gonzo hated that song.

      • Gareth

        Speaking of mistreating chickens…

        • wjts

          That’s nothing compared to what Lew Zealand did to those poor fish.

  • Warren Terra

    It’s worth reading Mother Jones‘s long piece on antibiotics in chicken farming – and in particular how Perdue has pioneered ways of farming its chickens just as profitably and without misusing antibiotics.

  • dm

    People care. The University of Chicago did some work on this only a few years ago and found American workers overwhelmingly agree that health and safety is the most important issue facing them. The same poll/report noticed a media pattern of silence when it comes to reporting on the problems. It isn’t just a media blackout. Workers themselves are silenced through their precarious situations. Most people in the meat industry are migrant workers. Speaking up is risky behaviour. And with falling wages they don’t have a lot of resources to use to create change from within the system. The people who are supposed to protect them have an impossible job even if we assumed they were willing to do so. I don’t know about today but in 2010 there was one OSHA inspector for every 44,348 workers. The problem is the structure of capitalism which by its nature assumes workers, animals and the surrounding environment are disposable.

  • leftwingfox

    Did you see John Oliver’s segment on Chicken farmers?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X9wHzt6gBgI

  • were-witch

    leftwingfox

    …waaaaait a minute…

    leftwingfox

    I DON’T TRUST ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY ABOUT HENHOUSES.

    • leftwingfox

      I’d argue, but I do eat a lot of chicken and you’ll find a few feathers around my bedroom.
      (The latter courtesy of a cheap pillow.)

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