Obviously, I wish you wouldn’t buy any eggs at all. But the large eggs are the worst, explained chicken expert Jan Galeazzi of Animal Place, a farm sanctuary in Grass Valley, CA. And there’s even some eggs that come in “extra large” and “jumbo” sizes which, for the hen, can be, well, just imagine…
As she held one of the rescued chickens, tucked under her arm, Jan talked to a group of us gathered recently in the chicken yard connected to Animal Place’s chicken barn.
She explained that modern selective breeding has created a chicken that doesn’t much resemble the one that God/evolution created. The God-made chicken produces about 15 eggs a year. The man-made chicken produces up to about an egg a day.
An egg a day. Doesn’t matter whether the hen is on a factory farm, a “free range” or in a backyard.
The larger the egg, the harder it is for the chicken to pass them. Sometimes they just can’t lay the egg. It won’t come out. The egg can either break inside her oviduct, causing an often fatal infection or get pushed back into the stomach.
The chicken’s stomach can get filled with eggs in shells so that their abdomens become huge and it’s hard from them to walk. Eventually they often die from the condition.
Also, just the strain of producing so many eggs wears the chicken out after a couple of years. On factory farms they are “culled” at a year or two. In the backyard, commercially bred chickens can usually live about four or five years. The biggest killer of laying chickens (besides the chicken industry) is cancer of their reproductive systems.
I recently saw a “joke” on the internet: “Hey vegetarian, my food poops on your food.”
Well, Mr. Carnivore, actually your food also poops on your food. Eggs come from a chicken’s so-called “vent.” In a chicken there’s no additional hole for poop, explained Jan.
Speaking of poop, it also gets into the meat. A New York Times article cited a study finding that 48 percent of chicken found on grocery store shelves was contaminated with e coli, generally an indicator of the presence of fecal material.
That’s basically why you’re supposed to cook the shit out of chicken flesh and chicken secretions.
Sorry, eating eggs and eating chicken “meat” is just shitty on so many levels.
When I heard “You’re all under arrest,” my heart jumped in my throat. I flashed on who-will-take-care-of-the-dog-what-about-babysitting-I’d-promised-I’d-do-tomorrow- and what-about-the-cat-and-what-about-all-the-work-due-for-my-class-this-week- what-if-I-can’t-get-to-my-class.
I’ve never really been in jail before.
It was an “International Respect for Chickens Day” protest. We were in the San Francisco Ferry Building which is a sort of foodie plaza where you can spend all sorts of money on “artisan” cheese, olive oil, nuts, fruit, pricey bread and “humanely-raised” meat.
In fact, it was in front of one of these “humanely raised and cruelly-killed” meat places where two animal rights groups, United Poultry Concerns (UPC) and Direct Action Everywhere (DXE), had joined to cause a disruption.
“HUMANELY RAISED,” shouted long-time activist Hope Bohanec of UPC.
Back to the protest: So we were lined up in front of the meat counter and here was this guy dressed in a uniform saying we were all under arrest.
But I looked around and saw nobody really budging and realized that the guy talking about arresting everyone was actually a security guard – not a police officer. And even if he had been a police officer we would have to be given a reasonable amount of time to leave.
The guard sort of laughed and shook his head when he heard we were protesting the cruel treatment of chickens. Conventional belief is that chickens are stupid, if not ridiculous.
Scientists have discovered that chickens recognize and remember human faces, they communicate with other chickens, they learn from each other and they teach their young, new behaviors. And when they’re happy and safe, chickens purr.
Yet chickens are, according to Bruce Friedrich of Farm Sanctuary, the most abused of all farm animals. Of the 9.1 billion land animals killed for food in the U.S. during 2013, over 8.5 billion were chickens, according to the USDA.
And being raised “free range” and/or “humanely’’ means little or nothing for most. “Humane,” “Sustainable,” “Cage Free” are basically advertising slogans designed to increase sales and prices while reassuring troubled consciences.
Cage free means, in most cases, thousands of birds stuffed into a darkened filthy shed. Cage free also means that male layer chicks which are of little use to industry are ground up alive or suffocated in garbage bags shortly after they’re born. Backyard chicken farmers please know, this is what happens to the male chicks you don’t buy.
“Free range” broiler chickens are also stuffed by the thousands into these same types of sheds. Those chickens are so deformed and maimed by selective breeding to have huge breasts or “drumsticks,” they can barely move. Experiments have shown that broiler chickens are in nearly constant pain.
It’s a horrible, horrible scene, which is why I just kept standing there with everybody else holding my sign in front of this meat counter listening to the DXE speakers.
One of the butchers wearing a bloody apron came out from behind the counter and got in front of me and said, “Don’t you have something better to do?” which I thought was a very interesting question given the circumstances.
I just stared into the distance and he went off to ask other people in our group, “Why don’t you go get a hobby?”
As the DXE speakers continued (LOUDLY,) another butcher came out of the back with a spoon and a big pan which he started to beat ferociously to drown out the speaker. It was loud enough to hurt my ears and sounded like one of those “Come ’n’ get it” triangles from cowboy movies.
Foodies from all over the Ferry Building arrived to see what was going on or maybe to check out what there was to eat. (You know, maybe some free samples…)
What they saw was us with our signs and our huge banner decrying chicken slaughter, an upset dude in an apron banging on a pot and security guards fluttering around trying to stop the photography. Eventually though they had to give up on trying to stop the photos, because even the foodie/tourists were filming.
Once the short speeches and the chanting were over, we left. The whole thing must have been 10 minutes, max.
Next location: A “humanely-raised” restaurant with tables on the sidewalk in front of the Ferry Building.
The people sitting at the tables just stared as DXE members spoke to the crowd about the horrors of the so-called humane meat industry. I saw one man eating a hamburger trying to sort of duck down when he took a bite. His companion looked miserable.
I kind of felt sorry for them. I’m sure lunch hadn’t been cheap and after all, these were folks who cared enough about farm animals to try and do the right thing – buy “humanely raised.” Maybe some lights were going off inside their brains. That’s what I hoped.
Security came back, this time with a bright blue plastic tarp which they held up as barricade between us and about four tables in the restaurant. The “barricade,” of course, did nothing to stop the sound and it was too small to block the views of most of the people in the restaurant.
It was silly but I thought there is a serious side to animal rights protesting. I’d read Will Potter’s book, “Green is the New Red,” about animal rights activists who had done nothing more than operate a website and had been sentenced to federal prison for lengthy terms.
DXE founder and attorney Wayne Hsiung explained after the protest ended that out of the many, many animal rights activists only 10 have ended up in prison under the 2006 Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, and that animal rights and environmental activists no longer get top priority from the FBI.
Hsiung said, compare what’s happened to animal rights activists to the tens of thousands of innocent Muslims who have been imprisoned in the U.S. under the Homeland Security Act or the millions of innocent African-Americans who have also been imprisoned in the United States or have been brutally killed by police simply because of the color of their skin.
I don’t trust yoga studios. You never know what they’ll do – turn up the heat to 110 degrees or make you stand on your head. Now a New Hampshire yoga studio has come up with something way more heinous than a simple heat wave: a chicken slaughter demonstration.
The Be Well Yoga Studio has joined with a grocer, “The Local Grocer,” to do a “chicken processing class” at Mountain Flower Farm.
Doesn’t Mountain Flower Farm and the Be Well Yoga Studio sound like the nicest places in the world? How about “The Local Grocer?” Just so sweet. Just so local.
Oh no, it’s the “it’s-fine-to-kill-them-as-long-as-you-do-it-in-the-backyard” crowd. But first make them into pets and then kill them. Sort of realizing the horror of that scenario, one urban farmer I know trades her chickens to slaughter with another urban farmer friend. Voila! Nobody’s killing their own pets.
Some bloggers have gotten wind of the yoga chicken killing plot and are asking, hey what about ahimsa, the Hindu/Buddhist/Jainist principle of “Do No Harm?” And what kind of ghoulish yoga studio are you?
I guess they just couldn’t resist the new trend: butchering classes, the rage in quite a few places.
United Poultry Concerns, a group that is, well, concerned about chickens, turkeys and other feathered friends has joined in the protest, circulating this petition. Please sign!