Reality of killing chickens for food
Why the chicken crossed the road is still a mystery, but how he (or she) arrived on your dinner plate is not; it had to be killed. That reality is a little distressing for some consumers.
Consequently, mercy killing of hens and roosters destined for human consumption is being considered seriously, and in some cases implemented, by a few major suppliers of poultry meat. A supermarket chain or two have joined the chorus in response to customer sensitivity.
A measure of mercy has been standard for poultry suppliers for years. They render the chickens unconscious or nearly so moments before they are slaughtered. The slaughtering itself is done by slitting the chickens' throats as they hang by their feet on a conveyor that carries them past a knife.
The suppliers have learned from experience that the pre-slaughter stress can affect the texture and perhaps the taste of the meat. Knocking the chickens out through semi-euthanasia or by withholding oxygen seems to be a humane last step before slaughtering.
Some of the encouragement for merciful killing of the chickens is coming from consumers whose curiosity has led them to learn more about poultry production and handling methods by large-scale producers. In some cases, their inquisitiveness has been whetted by so-called humane organizations. Apparently some of them have learned more about chicken slaughtering than they really wanted to know.
The slaughter of any animals is not pretty, wherever and however it is done, especially on a large commercial scale. Most consumers today are so far removed from the process that they can complete an impersonal purchase of animal products for the dinner table without even considering that the animal was ever alive.
Generally speaking, farm families are more realistic, especially if they raise poultry or other animal meat products. On-farm slaughtering still occurs, although rarely, providing those with a farm heritage a touch of reality.
A case can be made for putting city-dwelling consumers in touch with the slaughtering process. Civilizations throughout history have at least been able to acknowledge that meat for their tables was once on the hoof, and somebody had to be in charge of the transformation.
Deer, elk and moose hunters can wax dramatic about the beauty of the beast they killed. Something of the older civiliza tions seems to tie them to the reality of killing animals for food. Fishermen live by the same code.
That code of reality has brought a certain strength to societies through the ages by reminding their members that something must be sacrificed for the general welfare. Some in current societies apparently believe that is not a valid premise, even that meat animals should not be part of human diets.
Animal sacrifices were big in biblical times. Reading some passages makes you wonder how they disposed of all that blood and the parts not used for food or other purposes. Hauling those parts away from commercial animal suppliers today as offal is a big business.
Those who stand by the Bible's emphasis on animal slaughtering must remember that when the children were in the wilderness and running short of food, the divinely inspired supply was manna, not drumsticks.
Whatever animal slaughtering means to society, making it more acceptable on a larger scale is under way in earnest. Those who want to see how it was done the old-fashioned way need to make an appointment to tour a poultry processing plant, get a grip and try to keep their lunch down, especially if it was supplied by the Colonel or Chick-fil-A.
CONTACT Don Curlee at email@example.com