Many consumers have begun reducing the amount of red meat in their diet and increasing meats they believe to be “better” for them. While yes, white meats have been proven to be less unhealthy than a big ribeye, there are still some things to know about what goes on behind the doors of poultry factory farming.
If you were going to order that healthy salad with chicken on top for lunch today, I might just ruin it for you, but I like to think I’m educating and helping people become conscious eaters. I believe there is a right way to have meat in our lives, and unfortunately we have decided to throw caution and morality to the wind and take an untravelled cruel road. Today I am going to share some painful truths about the poultry industry.
Chickens that are raised for meat are referred to as “broiler” chickens. The life of these chickens is a short and tortured one. They are genetically modified so that they will grow twice as fast and twice as big, bringing them to the six-week slaughter date. The cruelty starts as soon as the baby chicks peck their way out of their shell. The end of their beaks are cut off, without anesthesia, ostensibly to reduce injuries when the birds become stressed and fighting can occur. Guess they get away with that by saying, “it’s for their own good.”
Being that these chickens are pushed beyond natural limits with thanks to these genetic modifications, hundreds of millions die before they make it to the six-week age. Forcing their bodies to grow so fast has several repercussions. The heart and lungs are not able to grow at the same speed, so they are underdeveloped and can result in congestive heart failure. Their legs are also not able to keep up which results in crippling leg disorders. Their legs are not able to support their abnormally heavy bodies. I have seen these Frankenstein birds first hand and it’s not pretty. This was before I knew of growth hormones and how our food made it to the table. All of these chickens could not walk more than a couple of steps without falling down. They were huge. An average chicken weighs 5-7 pounds. These “new and improved” chickens weighed upwards of 15-20 pounds. Turkeys are also created the same. Consumer demand was for bigger breast meat, so turkeys were modified for such, now leaving them unable to reproduce naturally, so they are artificially inseminated. That’s our food system, like “The Island of Dr. Moreau.”
Now onto how they spend their six week lifespan. They are crammed into warehouses with less than half a square foot of space each to move in. That is smaller than a sheet of letter paper. They are plumped up and then taken to slaughter. Put into crates of open trucks and not protected from the weather, many die in route. This is apparently acceptable because it’s still cheaper to transport them this way. The birds are then tossed, and yes I mean tossed, thrown, dumped, onto a conveyor belt. The ones that miss hitting the conveyor belt and fall through the cracks are left to be crushed by vehicles or die of starvation.
Once the birds are inside the slaughterhouse they are hung by their feet on a metal rail shackle system. The birds are then run through an electrified water bath that is supposed to render them unconscious. However, poultry is excluded from the federal Humane Slaughter Act, which requires that all animals be stunned before slaughtering, so the stunning procedures are not monitored and it is believed that the electrical current is usually too low to render them fully unconscious. Next the moving rail runs them past a blade that cuts their throats, but some are missed because they are still able to squirm. Those birds face being boiled alive in the scalding tank.
And that’s giving you the brief description. I’ve cried from reading the gruesome details. I don’t know how these practices are acceptable and legal, oh, yes I do, because many people overlook things for money. Our supply and demand model is working in the factory farmers’ favor, and to keep up with demand they had to do something, and that something is creating the franken-chicken that is tortured from beginning to end. Something for the conscious eater to think about! And today is Meatless Monday, so it’s a good day to start!
My next t-shirt design is dedicated to poultry factory farming. Check it out at the Etsy store.
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