Friday, September 4, 2009

Can Anyone Act Rationally Anymore?

So, I turned AIM on and that annoying AOL pop-up page opened in Firefox. As I was about to click it closed, I saw an article and was roped in. Basically, it is an article about how the egg industry (well actually, the industry that produces chickens for egg production) has been so completely disintegrated from the chicken meat industry that, while hatched females are sold to egg producers, male chicks are thrown into grinders to die just after hatching.

Look, I'm not a vegetarian. Nowhere close. I stopped eating commercial mammals (beef, pork, lamb) 11 years ago, first to maintain a healthy weight and then because I learned just how unhealthy and unnatural these animals have become. I do, however, still eat fowl, fish and mammals in or close to their wild state (Bison, Ostrich, Wild Boar, etc.). Even after having lots of vegetarian and vegan friends, I never even considered a switch to a completely meatless diet because it is just as unnatural as those cows pumped up with hormones and antibiotics and fed corn by the trough-full. Human beings are built to be omnivores, just like our dear old friend the Dog, and completely unlike our other favorite pet, the obligate carnivore known as the domestic cat.

That said, this kind of thing always bugs the shit out of me. It is not just about the cruel nature of how these birds are dying, which probably looks a lot more cruel than it is in the grand scheme of ways to kill a 1 day old chick, but it is about that insane amount of waste that goes on in this country. Seriously, I realize that the commercial chicken industry has created this crazy Cornish Cross meat bird at the expense of all others, but how the hell is it a better economic policy to just kill 200 million chickens a year? Why not sell them off to become everything from pets to become meat chickens anyway? In fact, why don't the hatcheries grow them as food? Even if they can't beat the other guys on price, I am sure they can cover all the costs that they would have incurred by killing these things.

Indeed, I take umbrage with a lot of the article, in that it basically suggests that we need to forget about getting "cheap" food and make the hard transition toward a less meat-intensive life. While I agree with this to a point, Americans in particular eat WAY too much of the wrong kinds of meat, there is no real reason to bite the bullet here. You know why Americans love chicken more than any other group of people on this planet? Because it is the meat of the masses. Much like people in coastal regions (including my home state of California) love fish, the chicken and the United States as a whole go together as well as anything. Unlike cows, chickens are really well suited to the consumption of grain and we can grow a ton of that in the middle of this country where harsh weather keeps other choices limited. As such, chicken was always the cheapest thing people could buy, and we developed a taste for it. In fact, chicken was insanely cheap until the early-1980s, before the demand for the fitness niche caught on. Since then, chicken prices have shot up, not coincidentally as factory farming and market disintegration has become commonplace. No longer are the roosters raised for meat and the hens for eggs. Instead, you have one breed for meat then another set of chickens, females only, for eggs. How fucking stupid is that? I don't give a shit what economist for Tyson or Purdue came up with this idea, but I will never be convinced that such a wasteful practice actually works to lower production costs.

As an aside, who else has gotten really tired of these mainstream message boards (I say this as I ask people to comment on mine)? It really seems like as more and more people have found these things exist, you get more and more trolls trying to tell other people how to live their lives. On the board for this article, at least half the comments seemed to be either 1) people comparing the culling of live chicks to a woman's right to choose an abortion or 2) people screaming at others to go vegetarian or vegan. Honestly, a big fuck you to both of them. The veggies and vegans get so annoying, for the specific reason that they completely twist around scientific research to their own liking and don't get that "plant-based diet" means "eat more plants, but don't forget the protein." Even people who do eat meat, like Michael Bittman, bug the shit out of me because they live in this box where the USRDA is all they look at. Sure, the RDA for protein in a 2000 calorie diet is only 60 grams. Does anyone ever pay attention to the fact that the RDAs are near to the minimum humans need to survive? If you exercise at all, your requirements go up. If you exercise like a person should, they go even higher. They are just as bad as the low-carb people who thought that pissing away water and drastically lower calories meant that carbs were evil.

On the first one, come on people. Simply because people care about animals means they have to live your religious fundamentalist life? Listen, I know many women who have had abortions and many men who have supported them through the process (and some who are fucking deadbeats about the whole thing). I have been smart, and probably a bit lucky, enough to not end up in this situation, but what a hell of a situation. Who the hell are you to tell others what to do with their own bodies? This whole back and forth about whether a fetus is a living creature gets old. Its not a child. A fetus is a mass of stem cells that can't live outside the mother for at least 3 months. Even then, you are talking about something that has to basically be cared for in an environment meant to replicate the uterus until it actually becomes a viable human life. I realize this is harsh, but its the truth.

Further still, I really don't get how the anti-choice types get off preaching their message, then turning around and justifying their omnivoric existence. The commandment says "thou shalt not kill" not "thou shalt not kill human beings." If they are so adamant about that position, why keep eating meat? They should be the first ones railing against these practices, and should stay as far away from their local BBQ joint as possible.

Long story short, I am disgusted with the food industry too, just not because I care all that much about the animals themselves. Don't get me wrong, it is reprehensible to treat animals cruelly. In fact, I put it right up there with child abuse, because you have a similarly less developed body and brain. That said, I don't really see all that much difference between killing a chicken at a few months old for its meat and killing it at a day old in a grinder. One just looks a hell of a lot worse. My problem with Big Food is that they have turned things that are healthy and necessary into unrecognizable mutations, and that they rely on false economies to do so. Why not raise these things the natural way? They taste better, they create less down line costs (borne by the taxpayers, thank you) and you don't waste anything. Seriously, even if those 200 million male chicks grew to only 3 pounds (not likely, because I am sure they could fatten them), you are talking about SIX HUNDRED MILLION pounds of chicken. That's 300,000 tons. Food wouldn't be more expensive, it would be cheaper. Sure, some of these big factory types would lose some money, but they would have to just become more efficient. By, you know, not wasting half their potential product.

1 comment:

  1. How could you eat Matt Kemp? Now we have no chance come October.