Thankful for Industrial Poultry

Gratefulness is an important part of a happy life, but are we right to be thankful for an ill-gotten bounty?  In a country of 300 million people, a turkey on every table (or a chicken in every pot) means that many birds live hard and die fast.  They are also plucked, gutted, inspected, and packaged as quickly as possible, leaving human workers to pay the price.  On the Pump Handle, Celeste Monforton debunks the National Chicken Council's claim that working in a poultry processing plant is as safe as making omelets at a country club.  According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, poultry processing ranks among 2% of industries singled out for the severity of workplace injuries.  Elizabeth Grossman writes that workers typically handle thirty 16-pound carcasses a minute, for eight hours, risking repetitive stress injuries along with cuts and amputations, and developing kidney stones for want of a bathroom break.  So even if there's nothing wrong with cooking animals, do the practicalities of feeding a huge population change the moral equation? On Greg Laden's Blog, Greg explains the "cooking hypothesis" as set forth in the [other] book Catching Fire.  The theory says that cooking is a kind of "pre-digestion" that allowed our ancestors to metabolize many more calories much more easily.  The result?  Bigger bodies, smaller teeth, more brainpower, followed by agriculture, empire, colonialism, the first Thanksgiving, and now millions of Butterball turkeys at your local Wal-Mart.

Posted to the homepage on November 25, 2013.

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If we did not eat them, there would be many fewer turkeys in the world. This also true of other animals raised for food. It is a matter of a lot more individuals living a very restricted life. There is possible comparison to modern humanity; some seven billion of us, most living in poverty. I'm not sure what to think about it all.

By Jim Thomerson (not verified) on 12 Jan 2014 #permalink