May 4 is International Respect for Chickens Day. That’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T with some Aretha attitude, by the way. It’s your chance to make up for any transgressions you might have accumulated against our feathery friends. I suppose eating them might be at the top of the list, but the day was actually proclaimed back in 2005 by United Poultry Concerns to protest the bleakness of the lives of chickens in farming operations.
As it turns out, there are worse things than being eaten; a life packed into a cage with so many other birds that none of them can turn around is bleak, indeed. Not to mention the common practice of de-beaking followed by many poultry operations.
How can you help? Look for “pastured” labels on eggs. Cage-free means nothing in terms of crowding; simply that the mass of chickens are housed without cage bars around them. “Free-range” on a label means nothing either, sadly. A strip of earth may technically exist adjacent to a farming operation but the birds rarely, if ever, have access to it.
If you can find them, these are the labels that supposedly live up to their promise: “animal compassionate“, the label now used by Whole Foods, “free-farmed”, “certified humane” or “animal welfare-approved“.
“Natural”, “organic”, “grass-fed” and “grass-finished” are apparently useless labels. A “vegetarian” label on egg cartons is to be avoided. Chickens are NOT vegetarians, based upon the number of times Lucy has devoured the turkey from the CE’s Subway sandwich. In a perfect world, chickens are meant to forage for bugs and worms, flap their wings, dance the conga if they’re in the mood and dream sweet dreams on an uncrowded roost bar at night.
Buy accordingly, or stop by our house for some eggs.