07 September 2008

Corporate Chicken

Ask an 8 year old kid raised in the United states of America - where has he seen a chicken? “You mean chicken nuggets”, pat comes the reply. In an over industrialized and prosperous country where every successful cookie recipe, restaurant, coffee shop , grocery store , office supplies, is in a hurry to get franchised, the chicken has also not been left behind. The Kentucky fried chicken boasts in their several servings of ONLY chicken, McDonalds and Wendys in their famous chicken nuggets at a bargain price. Just transfer the scenes of the movie Fast food nation, a documentary depicting the beef industry to the two legged feathered bird.

The words Hen and cock are almost foreign to many young minds and a 6 year old brain can mostly conceive chicken as the heavily breaded rolls of pressed chicken in the form of nuggets, chicken wings during a superbowl, a roasted chicken from the Boston market or the supermarket deli shop. Any packet that is marked “Purdue” or “ Tyson” brings chicken to adult minds and babies get their first feed of chicken in a bottle produced by Gerber. Ultra huge warehouse stores like BJ’s and Costo sell everything for "Bigger deals for better values" just the answer for overworked parents who are raising kids and trying to keep their jobs.

Visualize a chicken factory - A counter top where the hens are cut and all the parts separated into thighs only or breasts only or legs only moving along on the conveyor belt, workers standing just like in an assembly line and the rest of the poultry tits bits compressed as nuggets. On food TV shows Chefs in designer aprons teach how to cook chicken using “the ONLY “ parts mantra for a delicious moist meat. These kind of recipes promote the way grocery stores market the poultry and vice versa. How many times have TV shown what a a chicken looks like before they come on the plate, considering that an average American kid spends atleast one hour in front of the TV every day after school. What will happen to young minds if they show how a chicken be killed on TV is the first question that comes to the producers mind and how will it be perceived. In all good intentions parents do not want their children to see how a hen is cut and how it becomes ‘meat’ on their plate. Will their young feeble minds be scared and be traumatized?

Children are kept hidden from the reality that their chicken on the plate are raised in containers that are as tightly packed as sardines and fed on hormones and antibiotics that would bulk the chicken up, a pleasure for the eyes and the gratification of a huge size portions on the plate. Free roaming chickens raised on normal food such as whole grains is almost alien, with some kind of awareness popping up in the last few years in this country.

I grew up watching chickens being killed for meat, when we went to the poultry market to buy them and turned out to be a perfectly normal individual. School lessons enforced the concepts of food chain and adults kept us under reality check! When young minds are presented facts in ways that help them learn and understand the reality of things they turn out to be ungluttonous meat eaters. A habit is instilled into a child by the values that adults teach and the perceptions that children are presented with. Good and bad attitudes are formed by the culture and the environment that they are raised. Raised in oblivion of the environment children DEMAND. A feeble young mind soaks up information with curiosity . Good eating habits begins at home.

When a teenager goes to a poultry farm ( in other words hens raised only for meat ) as part of their school trip, they are shell shocked and numbed that for the last 15 years they ate a ‘cute’ feathered bird 7 days a week, two times a day in some form and overwhelmed with guilt at the thought of consumption of the number of chicken wings and drums sticks they have gobbled up heartlessly !

Chicken finds a way at every table. The impression that “ No meat” on the tables means poor should be fact checked and attitudes such as these needs to be corrected.
How the Perdues and the Tysons, have overtaken dinner table are seldom thought consciously because this is what babies are fed, children raised in and adults feel comfortable with, and the brain ingrained for 21 plus growing up years. Teach a old horse new tricks, and you will rather stand upside down with head on the floor and feet in the air. This is what has happened to average meal times . But comforting news is around the corner for those who try to look sideways . A handful has risen to the occasion. Thanks to a few food movements and documentaries and books on agribusiness. the average meal is slowly changing and may be in another 30 years this country will see a healthy eating pattern and well established one at that.

The customer is always KING.


Vinod_Sharma said...

It is a strange world. Many are shell shocked after a visit to a poultry "farm" - even the idea of calling a place where hens are raised without a life 'farm' is disturbing - while many comfortably spend a lifetime doing what they do there.

But, you are right. Most of us who virtually live on chicken, at least in the US, haven't even a clue about what really goes into making their meal. That information should be graphically made available to all so that they can truly make an informed decision about consuming chicken and other meat.

I must clarify here that I am now a happy vegetarian. Was a voracious meat-eater a decade back. Now, what was 'food' to me earlier is a living being, not much different from all of us.

Anrosh said...

sticking to kosher organic chicken has helped me to keep myself in check - once in 2-3 months or so..i have tamed myself !

Indyeah said...

again I am all for vegetraianism:)
and seriously this complete lack of knowledge in the US kids on where chicken comes from and how is weird...

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