Thursday, November 4, 2010

Blind Chickens, Blind Consumers

I’ve been thinking lately about how far removed we are from our food. What’s brought this to mind is the fact that I now have a blind chicken living in its own personal hutch custom built and attached to the garage. When this chicken survived its horrendous attack by the other chickens, my first thought was – Sunday dinner! I’m sure you’re shuddering. But really, we have 31 other perfectly good chickens and here is just one more chore waiting to happen. Why shouldn’t we butcher it? My children have lots of arguments for saving the life of “Kernel” (named after the ill-fated Popcorn who was carried off by a hawk), none of which amount to anything more than “how could you?”.

When I mention my disappointment to friends, they ask, “Could you really kill it?” I don’t know. Maybe. I’ve never had the opportunity. But I’ve been thinking that if I’m going to eat meat, I really should be able to kill the animal that supplied it. We all should. Don’t get me wrong – I think it would be incredibly hard. I’m certain I would have nightmares afterward and shed plenty of tears in the process, but I also think that morally I shouldn’t be eating meat if I can’t do the deed.

Not that long ago, everyone killed the animals that supplied the meat for their dinner. My father-in-law likes to horrify us all by demonstrating with a waving arm how he killed chickens back in his day. After watching the movie, Food Inc., I was convinced that we needed to raise our own chickens for meat. I explained, carefully, to the kids that these chickens would be so much better off than the chickens in the film. They would live happy, carefree lives right up until the moment we butchered them. No dice. I haven’t given up hope, though. They are petitioning to let our two broody hens hatch the eggs they have to be pried off of each night. I’m willing to make a deal here. But they haven’t yet decided that the joy of watching the girls hatch our own chicks would offset the final end for some of these precious chicks.

How many of us really know what we’re eating? We’ve become so far removed from creating our own food that most of us have to look up how to boil an egg or make a pie crust. Our grandparents could do these things in their sleep. I can’t help but wonder how the waistlines of Americans might be effected if they had to make all their own foods. If we ate only what we created with our own hands from ingredients purchased whole or grown ourselves, I bet we’d lose some serious weight. Maybe I should create a diet, called “Made (and Lost) From Scratch”.

Recently I came across an article with a quiz in it. It listed the ingredients in the average breakfast cereal, cracker, cookie, and bread. Then it asked the reader to identify which was which. It was impossible. In fact, you wouldn’t even recognize the group of ingredients as any food because most of the lengthy list would have been hard to pronounce. I love this quote –

“If you are what you eat and you don’t know what you’re eating, do you know who you are?” (anonymous)

It’s funny, but it’s also a very poignant comment on the state of the average person’s diet.

The next time you’re shopping, pick up your favorite box of crackers or cereal and take a look at the ingredients. Do you know what they are? Cause if you don’t, you’re gambling your health (and possible your life) on the trustworthiness of some huge manufacturer whose main consideration is how much you’ll pay for said product. You’re also banking your life on our government’s ability to regulate the food industry. They wouldn’t allow companies to sell something that would endanger your health, right? Of course not, just like they wouldn’t allow you to have a mortgage you can’t afford. Or allow an oil company to drill miles deep in the ocean with no safety net.

Be smart and remember, we truly are what we eat.

1 comment:

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