Some harsh facts for chicken eaters, like me.

September 2, 2009 | By | 5 Replies More

Have you ever been to a children’s science museum where the children get to see chicks hatching from eggs?  At these educational facilities, we teach our children about the innocence and beauty of the baby chicks.

Image by Erich Vieth

Image by Erich Vieth

In addition to looking at them hatch, I like to eat chickens and their eggs. I always have. But this article and the undercover video that follows have really put me in a moral quandary.

An animal rights group publicized a video Tuesday showing unwanted chicks being tossed alive into a grinder at an Iowa plant and accused egg hatcheries of being “perhaps the cruelest industry” in the world.

I promote this ghastly system whenever I eat the chickens and eggs sold at most grocery stores in the U.S.  There’s no way around it.  Perhaps one solution is to open up chicken factories to school groups, so that the children and their families can learn about the process leading up to that admittedly delicious meal of chicken strips.   Then, we can make more informed decisions at the grocery store.

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Category: American Culture, Food, Good and Evil

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

Comments (5)

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  1. One way to at least limit support for this industry would be to buy eggs from local producers. There's a woman at work that I buy eggs from. She sells a dozen for $1.50 and I get some very tasty eggs and she doesn't throw chickies into a grinder.

  2. Brynn Jacobs says:

    Erich-

    I just saw this story this morning in our local paper too. Every couple of years an animal rights group sneaks out hidden camera footage that proves the abuses that the corporate farms insist do not happen.

    Luckily, the choice isn't between cruel foods and no foods. California passed Proposition 2 last year, which "Requires that calves raised for veal, egg-laying hens and pregnant pigs be confined only in ways that allow these animals to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs and turn around freely." It's not a perfect solution, but it's a big step in the right direction.

    Also, my wife and I have given up on grocery store eggs all together, and not just because of the cruelty issues. We have found local eggs from free-range chickens to be superior in taste and quality in every way, and we simply cannot eat the dull eggs from the grocery store any more. Local harvest is a great resource to find if something similar may be available to you.

  3. Erika Price says:

    Perhaps it is just to make myself feel better about the moral dilemma, but I really believe that animal rights issues such as these will be "won" by the moderate changes in purchasing and eating behavior occurring on a large scale. I think tiny, inch-by-inch changes in how often and where we buy meat will matter more than the minority of people who are willing to eschew animal products entirely. It is much easier to persuade people to make small changes, the process is less daunting, and people are more likely to adapt and stick with it, I'd venture.

    If we accept this notion that these abuses will be changed by millions of small alterations, then we're in luck! All we have to do is pass on information such as this, take pause to consider our purchases and dietary habits, and stop taking meat as a given component to every meal. I'm no vegetarian, and I will never be vegan. But I only eat meat a few times a month- usually special occasions or when out at sit-down restaurants. But that might be a little extreme for some people. Even if the average American cut down their meat consumption to a few days a week, there would be a massive difference in the environmental (maybe even ethical) impact.

    Speaking of environmental impact, I've always found the wastefulness of meat consumption far more compelling than the animal suffering. The excess methane, waste products and waste of water all effect humans directly- and ultimately I hold the well being of my own species more highly than that of others. It's somewhat a necessary evil self-interest, I think.

  4. Dan Klarmann says:

    We get our eggs from friends with chickens. Sure, the size and color is unpredictable. And they do taste a little different than factory eggs. For chicken, we often try to get "free range" rather than cage chicken. At least, we pay extra and the meat is darker and membranes and tendons tougher.

    Those who eat should stay aware that another life gets eaten.

  5. Erich Vieth says:

    In order to compare modern meat-processing with traditional methods of hunting, I read from <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=SEopBoB8ch0C&pg=PA393&lpg=PA393&dq=native+american+eating+animals+respect&source=bl&ots=sG-RbEh0Gj&sig=Cct9t9QSlLCYvBHCXLd1RC0vhHE&hl=en&ei=Q0mfSoTOLpTANYHarfQP&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=10#v=onepage&q=native%20american%20eating%20animals%20respect&f=false"&quot; rel="nofollow">American Indian religious traditions: an encyclopedia, Volume 1, by Suzanne J. Crawford, Dennis F. Kelley, starting at page 392. The contrast is startling. Native American cultures stressed showing respect for the animals they ate. They assumed other species of animals to be "persons" worthy of respect, and that they had cognitive abilities. Native American culture would generally think it to be crass to assume that other species existed simple to serve the needs of humans. Further, eating the flesh of other animals established a spiritual connectedness between humans and other species.

    Factory produced chicken-strips gobbled thoughtlessly by obese people would seem to offend the core of many native American traditions.

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