Utah, the state in which I live, is one of a number of states which have passed controversial laws against photographing agriculture. It's been called the "ag-gag law," here in my home state. That means you can be charged with one count each of class A misdemeanor criminal trespassing on agricultural land, and agricultural operation interference if you take a picture of an agricultural property. In this post I would like to give you a clear picture (with words only) about only one of those businesses in our country: The chicken industry. Over 93% of broiler chickens are factory farmed. It is getting harder and harder to get information on how these animals we eat are being treated. You can buy broiler chicken that is called "cage free" but broilers are never raised in cages. Cages are where you raise egg laying chickens. So, "cage free" is a way to manipulate the buyer of chicken meat into thinking they are getting a "healthy" product.
How are they really raised? All broilers are raised in large chicken houses with no natural light and only about an 8 X 11 size piece of paper in which to move. They are suffering from being in such unnatural conditions. Strangely, it may not be the fault of the factory farmer as much as of the companies who control them.
There is a documentary about the factory farming of chickens called "One Man's battle Against the Chicken Industry." In this documentary a factory farmer himself blows the whistle on the industry. My favorite quote from the documentary comes from the farmer who says, "You can torture one single chicken and you risk arrest for abuse. But if you abuse hundreds of thousands of chickens for their entire lives, that's called agribusiness. This video comes in 7 different parts on Youtube. Don't miss all seven parts. Let's get this video out there. People need to know where their chicken comes from.
Jonathan Saffran Foer, in his book "Eating Animals," states that the most devastating disease event the world has ever known was avian influenza, or bird flu. The 1918 pandemic, called "the Spanish flu" killed more people faster than any other disease or any thing since. An estimated 675,000 Americans died in a matter of months and 20 million people died across the globe before the pandemic subsided. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services). One quarter of the world fell ill. It killed healthy people. As many as 20,000 Americans died in one week. Robert Webster proved the avian origins of all human influenza and he called it "the barnyard theory." This theory states that the viruses in human pandemics recruit some of their genes from flu viruses in domestic birds. What can we expect when birds are housed in such tight quarters with no natural light and no way to act like normal birds. Disease will be an eventuality. Lest we forget, A pandemic usually occurs every 27 1/2 years, and it's now been over 97 years since this pandemic.
"Breeding genetically uniform, sickness-prone, birds in overcrowded, stressful, feces-infected and artificially lit conditions on factory farms promotes the growth and mutation of pathogens." --Jonathan Saffran Foer. Mr. Foer also points out in his book (which is well worth buying and reading) that chickens are quite intelligent, outperforming dogs and cats on many tests of advanced cognition. They are socially complex, forming well ordered communities and learning from each other in sophisticated ways. They are very protective of their chicks. I personally believe they deserve a better life than they are being given on factory farms.
How much suffering will you allow for cheap chicken prices? Read Jonathan Saffran Foer's book "Eating Animals," and see the documentary "One Man's battle Against the Chicken Industry."