When Herbert Hoover promised his presidency would lead to "a chicken in every pot" in 1928, the birds were a scarce, expensive commodity that, with a great deal of labor to grow and process, produced very little meat. Today, according to Evelyn Rude in her new book, Tastes Like Chicken, Americans eat 160 million servings of cheap convenient chicken every day.
Though America still eats more meat than any virtually other country in the world, consumption at home has been on a downward slide for the past several years. Concerns about factory farming methods and its environmental impact; animal welfare; potential health risks as well as the Meatless Monday movement, all have helped fuel the slide.
And while some people have cut out meat altogether, many people have simply swapped cows for chicken, thinking it a healthier or earth-friendlier option. Not surprisingly, the switch-over to chicken has increased demand and the poultry industry has answered the call, in a way that’s anything but healthy for man or bird. In short, chicken’s got problems — and if you’re a poultry-eater, so do you.
The process that made chicken the overwhelming mainstay of the American diet was fundamentally technological that Rude calls "the most efficient meat-making machine on the planet". Innovations like the egg incubator and breeding contests to the introduction of antibiotics in feed also created environmental, social and health issues.
As Dr. Frank Lipman states in MindBodyGreen, (June 10, 2014): "The U.S. raises roughly 10 billion chickens a year, which generate billions of pounds of excrement annually. While some is used as fertilizer, there’s literally tons more waste, which, no matter how well-managed, still tends to spillover, contaminating air, land and water. And poultry processing is pretty tough on people, too. Workers face daily exposure to the toxic chemicals used to clean and disinfect poultry, which often trigger severe respiratory problems, sinus troubles, rashes and burns. If that weren’t enough, poultry production is also indefensibly and insanely wasteful: it’s estimated that it takes roughly 700 gallons of water and six pounds of grain to produce just one pound of chicken meat. Is this any way to spend our precious resources?"
Then there are issues of e-Coli, antibiotics effects on the consumer, not to mention bland taste. But Rude notes that the system of production, due to is incredible success, is definitely going to increase around the globe. The whole world will become, she thinks, big chicken eaters like we are. A world dominated by boneless, skinless chick breasts.
There is absolutely more to life.