Every few weeks or so there is a new public issue that sets the social media sites all a-twitter. Since Kony 2012 is sooooo last year, everybody on Facebook has now decided to obsess over The Great Chicken Debate 2012.
Essentially, Dan Cathy (Mr. Chick-fil-A himself) recently made public statements against gay marriage, causing the internet to almost explode. People are quickly (and publicly) taking sides. Some individuals are choosing to never eat another meal from those “Chick-fil-A-holes” again. Others, meanwhile, are showing up in droves at Chick-fil-A to show their solidarity.
I personally believe gay marriage should be legal. Hello, y’all, let’s spread the love! This is 2012. Regardless, these politics are not why I’m choosing to blog about the Great Chicken Debate. It’s not that I don’t find these issues important. I just feel like millions of other bloggers have got that part of the debate covered. Instead, I want to bring a hidden aspect of this debate to the table (so to speak).
I just want to talk about the chicken.
Here’s the meaty truth…. In 2010, 36% of Americans were obese. Whoa. Now, please consider the fact that a spicy chicken sandwich, large waffle fries, and a small coke add up to 1210 calories and 2000 mg sodium. Yikes. You don’t even want to know about the fat or cholesterol in that meal. That is one thing that worries me as thousands order nuggets to show their support for Chick-fil-A. Of course eating fast food occasionally is fine. Some people, however, have pledged to eat at Chick-fil-A at least three times a week to show their solidarity. Ick. They’re all hypothetically declaring “I’ll have a side of obesity with that free speech!” mmmm. America.
So, as you can see, it’s not just Dan Cathy’s anti-gay remarks that turn me off from Chick-fil-A. It’s also the unethical way they produce their meat that makes me avoid their (admittedly) delicious nuggets. I choose to not to eat at Chick-fil-A because I believe in happy chickens. The Chick-fil-A nuggets you love noshing, however, never led a very happy life. The way that chickens are raised for fast food restaurants like Chick-fil-A is all about maximizing efficiency. It’s disgusting, and unlike those amazing waffle fries, completely unappetizing. Here are some facts about the factory farming of poultry that you should take into account before your next visit to Chick-fil-A:
1) Chickens raised on factory farms are given hormones so that they grow as fast as possible. They have been genetically modified to grow a lot of breast meat (since that is what consumers like to eat). Unfortunately, this makes these chickens top heavy so that many of them unable to walk. Imagine your boobs being so heavy that you literally couldn’t move. Yikes.
2) Chickens are raised in packed, dark warehouses, and the space alloted per chicken is generally around the size of a piece of paper. The excessive over-crowding in these warehouses means that the chickens walk all over one another and live covered in their own feces. The feces cause very high ammonia levels, which are so terrible that several chickens asphyxiate. Yum, right?
3) Arsenic is in the feed of many of these chickens. (Aka poison). Double yum!
4) They pump these chickens full of antibiotics so they don’t die from sickness in these ridiculous living conditions. This overuse of antibiotics is causing major drug resistance problems. Not to mention that eating this meat could really mess with our own hormones, which is just freaky.
The reasons go on and on. Now, before you freak out…I’m not telling you that you must become a vegetarian. All I’m saying is that A) it’s probably best for you to limit your meat/Chick-fil-A intake anyway, and B) there are other ways to eat delicious (guilt-free) meat. Here’s how:
Don’t eat factory farmed meat. Instead, look for chickens that are grass-fed and free-range. These often have slightly better living conditions (and some argue they taste better as well). If you can, get your meat from a local farmer so you can actually know what the chicken’s living conditions were like. Also, try not to eat at fast food joints like Chick-Fil-A. Their priority is cheap food, not ethical food.
People seem to have forgotten (or are simply unaware of) exactly what they are supporting when they pledge to eat at Chick-fil-A. They are not just supporting freedom of speech (or whatever) but also the cruel treatment of animals. I personally support real food. I support farmers. I support farmer’s markets. I support organic. I support local. And most of all, I support sustainable. For these reasons, I hope that the next time you get the craving for a Chick-fil-A sandwich you will think twice. Not just because every human being deserves love, but also because chickens deserve a little bit of loving too.