Founder’s Blog: A Chicken in Every Pot…Posted by Joyce Tischler, ALDF's Founder and General Counsel on December 5, 2014
During the 1928 presidential campaign, the Republican Party published an ad stating that if Herbert Hoover was elected, Americans would experience such prosperity that there would be “a chicken in every pot…” Well; we certainly have achieved and exceeded that goal. Industrial agriculture raises and kills nine billion chickens each year. As of 2000, Americans were eating an average of 53 pounds of chicken annually (PDF), according to the USDA. It would surprise most Americans to learn that there is a significant downside to this abundance: a torrent of animal suffering. Meat production is also a serious contributor to climate change, the pollution of our waterways and air, and negatively impacts human health from such practices as the overuse of antibiotics in animal feed.
I thought of the “chicken in every pot” quote as I read Nicholas Kristof’s excellent op-ed in the New York Times, “Abusing Chickens We Eat,” By the 1950s in the U.S., the agriculture industry had a new way of raising the chickens who are eaten (industry calls them “broilers”). On today’s factory farm, 20,000 chicks are placed into each massive barn, where they live until they are large enough to go to slaughter. The industry has selectively bred them to grow to market weight in just seven weeks. That is 300 times faster than chickens grew just 50 years ago, and it takes a toll: the chickens’ skeletons have difficulty supporting their weight; they have deformities, and trouble walking. Oftentimes, their hearts and lungs can’t work effectively to circulate oxygen through their bodies. Add to that the fact that, as they grow larger, the barn becomes very crowded. The litter they sit in and live in is loaded with feces and urine, burning their skin and making it hard for them to breathe.
It’s one thing to read about these conditions; it’s another to actually see them. Thanks to Leah Garces, USA director of Compassion in World Farming, and a brave poultry farmer named Craig Watts, we now have that visual.
Most Americans have no idea how farmed animals are raised; they honestly don’t know. You can change that. If you eat chicken, cook chicken, feed it to your children and to your friends, I think you’ll want to see this video. If you’re like me, you’ll see that this is just not right.
What You Can Do
The strongest influence on the agricultural industry is the consumer, so please take the next steps:
- Learn more about the reality of how factory farmed chickens are raised and killed in the U.S. here. Check the ALDF website for updates on our lawsuits to protect chickens and other farmed animals.
- The best thing you can do for chickens is to stop eating them. Boycott the abuse.
- Spread the word; teach others by showing them this video, and others like it.
- Contact Perdue, Tyson, Foster Farms, and other companies that advertise about how much they care about the chickens, while keeping them in terrible, abusive conditions. Tell these companies that their treatment of these sentient creatures is not acceptable.