Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chicken Language

Chickens are incredibly social animals and even have their own language. Different vocalizations mean very specific things. For example, when one makes a similar sound to a cooing pigeon it means that she is scared and tells all the others to stand perfectly still under a bush. Another sound is like a chattering which is only used when a hen is sitting in the nesting box and another one walks in while she is laying an egg. The chattering is like a scolding or mild threat. Chickens give a proud cackle when they have just laid an egg. A fourth vocalization is like the cackle but a little different because it is faster and more alarming. A hen will only make that sound when she alone and separated from all the other hens. When two hens are together they will not make the call of, “Help, I’m all alone and don’t know what to do!”

I’m starting to sympathize with the vegetarian way of life. I couldn’t eat one of my chickens because I know them. All of my hens have unique personalities and they always seem so happy to see me. I couldn’t break the neck of such a trusting animal. I can now understand what George Bernard Shaw was talking about when he said, “Animals are my friends… and I don’t eat my friends.”

I think most people would become vegetarians if they had to raise and kill all of their own food. It is really amazing how separated we are from what we eat. In the history of humans such a distant relationship with our food didn’t happen until very recently. We are so spoiled and careless with where are meat comes from that we seldom think that what we are eating was at one time a living and breathing individual. Meat is usually packaged in such a way that the animal it once was is unrecognizable. I remember as a kid the organs of the turkey were always in the turkey, but now the organs are gone so we are not reminded that the Thanksgiving turkey was once alive.

I stumbled across a news article which listed the ingredients found in chicken nuggets. I haven’t eaten chicken nuggets in many years, but when I was a kid they were my favorite fast food. What is in those nuggets can barely be called food. It is a concoction of chemicals and flavorings with chicken only accounting for 50% of the ingredients.

Here is a complete list of all the ingredients from the McDonald’s website:

White boneless chicken, water, food starch-modified, salt, seasoning (autolyzed yeast extract, salt, wheat starch, natural flavoring (botanical source), safflower oil, dextrose, citric acid, rosemary), sodium phosphates, seasoning (canola oil, mono- and diglycerides, extractives of rosemary). Battered and breaded with: water, enriched flour (bleached wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamin mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), yellow corn flour, food starch-modified, salt, leavening (baking soda, sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium aluminum phosphate, monocalcium phosphate, calcium lactate), spices, wheat starch, whey, corn starch. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

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