Here chickie, chickie ….

Disturbing video captured by an animal rights activist who secured employment at an Iowa hatchery raises some serious questions over how we get our food supply.

 Honestly I barely made it to the one-minute mark of the 3:44-long Hatchery Horrors video – I just couldn’t get past the grinding machine.  I guess most of us are aware – dimly – that the meat and other food we buy at the store may come to us poisoned by actions we would normally find repulsive, but it’s different to actually see it.

 According to the group responsible for the video, Mercy for Animals, this one hatchery slaughters over 30 million male chicks every year. The males are killed because they cannot produce eggs and won’t grow fast enough to be sold profitably for meat. (The surviving females, the group and other advocates point out, will spend their lives in confinement under cruel conditions.) Perhaps the most disturbing aspect is that those 30 million male chick deaths represent a fraction of the number ground up by the industry – it’s almost beyond imagining.

 The gruesome footage, which shows male chicks being tossed into grinders (among other things) grabbed a few headlines in both the traditional and online media. But it has failed – at least so far – to gain any traction. This is probably in part due to the group’s demand that 50 of the largest nationwide supermarket chains in the U.S. put warnings on egg packaging “Male chicks are ground-up alive by the egg industry” and urging of consumers to adopt an animal-friendly vegan diet. The requests are just unreasonable in today’s world.

 Bottom line, with all the other problems in the world today, the treatment of chicks (or piglets or calves) en route to our dinner tables just isn’t going to attract the massive amount of attention needed to change how the industry operates.

 So what can we do as individuals? Nothing, or everything, depending on how strongly you feel about the issue. 

  • Keep purchasing and eating eggs the same as ever
  • Support Mercy for Animals quixotic campaign
  • Become a vegan
  • Do the due diligence on area farms and purchase only from suppliers that treat their chickens fairly
  • Urge your local supermarkets to stock eggs from local suppliers
  • Buy your own hens and become a small scale producer (If that sounds appealing, here’s a few chicken tending tips to get you started)

 As for me, my next trip to the supermarket will be an investigation – to see what options they’re providing – followed, perhaps by a visit to the local health food store to check their stock. Next week I’ll head over to the Wednesday farmer’s market a couple miles from home and see if anyone is selling eggs.

 I’m not going to stop eating eggs, or meat, or fish – but faced with the horrifying reality of what my consumption actually means, the least I can do is look for kinder alternatives.

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