In October I published a post about Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Eating Animals, which I did finally buy and am about one-third of the way through.
I’ve just finished Chapter 3, called “Words/Meaning,” which is basically a glorified glossary of terms. (More about that later when I do my official review.) One “term” he cites is KFC, which most people will recognize as the shortened name for the fast food chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken. I remember my first trip west from New Jersey when I was a kid. We lived on buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken as we traversed the Great Plains, coastal highway 101, and the prairies of Canada. Today, I won’t step foot in a KFC.
As Safran Foer says in his book, “KFC is arguably the company that has increased the sum total of suffering in the world more than any other in history.” What he’s referring to is the nearly one billion chickens a year that are tortured by workers at slaughterhouses that supply KFC. This behavior doesn’t fit well with KFC’s commitment to “the well-being and humane treatment of chickens,” as quoted by Safran Foer. And he doesn’t even mention the health safety issues, which, if you don’t give a hoot about animal suffering, should at least matter if you eat factory-farmed chicken.
I had just read this part of the book when I saw Naomi Starkman’s post entitled “Two-Thirds of Chicken Tested Harbor Dangerous Bacteria” on The Huffington Post website. She reports that Consumer Reports tested fresh, whole broilers bought in 22 states and revealed that “two-thirds of birds tested harbored salmonella and/or campylobacter, the leading bacterial causes of food-borne disease. The report reveals that organic “air-chilled” broilers were among the cleanest and that Perdue was found to be the cleanest of the brand-name chicken. Tyson and Foster Farms chickens were found to be the most contaminated.”
The poultry industry is certainly a dirty one. To me, it only reinforces the importance of finding a local food source, getting to know your farmers, visiting the places your food is raised, and even participating in the hunting, gathering, growing, harvesting, feeding, and–yes–slaughtering of the food that you put on your table. (That last step is a tough one to stomach, I know. I’m still debating whether I can do it myself.)