Step your mind into a crowded elevator, an elevator so crowded you cannot turn around without bumping into (and aggravating) your neighbor. The elevator is so crowded you are often held aloft. This is a kind of blessing, as the slanted floor is made of wire, which cuts into your feet. After some time, those in the elevator will lose their ability to work in the interest of the group. Some will become violent; others will go mad. A few, deprived of food and hope, will become cannibalistic.
There is no respite, no relief. No elevator repairman is coming. The doors will open once, at the end of your life, for your journey to the only place worse.
- The shit of a bull
- Misleading or false language and statements, such as:
Applied to meat, eggs, dairy, and every now and then even fish (tuna on the range?), the free-range label is bullshit. It should provide no more peace of mind than “all-natural,” “fresh,” or “magical.”
To be considered free-range, chickens raised for meat must have “access to the outdoors,” which, if you take those words literally, means nothing. (Imagine a shed containing thirty thousand chickens, with a small door at one end that opens to a five-by-five dirt patch—-and the door is closed all but occasionally.)
The USDA doesn’t even have a definition of free-range for laying hens and instead relies on producer testimonials to support the accuracy of these claims. Very often, the eggs of factory-farmed chickens—-chickens packed against one another in vast barren barns—-are labeled free-range. (“Cage-free” is regulated but means no more or less than what it says—-they are literally not in cages.) One can reliably assume that most “free-range” (or “cage-free”) laying hens are debeaked, drugged, and cruelly slaughtered once “spent.” I could keep a flock of hens under my sink and call them free-range.
The typical cage for egg-laying hens allows each sixty-seven square inches of floor space–about the size of a sheet of printer paper. Such cages are stacked up to eighteen tiers high, in windowless sheds.
Not all chickens have to endure battery cages. In this way, it could be said that broilers—-chickens that become meat (as opposed to layers, chickens that lay eggs)—-are lucky: they tend to get close to a single square foot of space. If you aren’t a farmer, what I’ve just written probably confuses you. You probably thought that chickens were chickens. But for the past half century, there have actually been two kinds of chickens—-broilers and layers—-each with distinct genetics. We call them both chickens, but they have starkly different bodies and metabolisms, engineered for different “functions.” Layers make eggs. (Their output has more than doubled since the 1930s.) Broilers make flesh. (In the same period, they have been engineered to grow more than twice as large in less than half the time. Chickens once had a life expectancy of fifteen to twenty years, but the modern broiler is typically killed around six weeks. Their daily growth rate has increased roughly 400-percent.)
This raises all kinds of bizarre questions—-questions that before I learned about our two types of chickens, I’d never had reason to ask—-like, What happens to all of the male offspring of layers? If man hasn’t designed them for meat, and nature clearly hasn’t designed them to lay eggs, what function do they serve?
They serve no function. Which is why all male layers—-half of all the layer chickens born in the United States, more than 250-million chicks a year—-are destroyed.
Destroyed? That seems like a word worth knowing about. Most male layers are destroyed by being sucked through a series of pipes onto an electrified plate. Other layer chicks are destroyed in other ways, and it’s impossible to call those animals more or less fortunate. Some are tossed into large plastic containers. The weak are trampled to the bottom, where they suffocate slowly. The strong suffocate slowly at the top. Others are sent fully conscious through macerators (picture a wood chipper filled with chicks). Cruel? Depends on your definition of cruelty.
Is it anthropomorphism to try to imagine yourself into a farmed animal’s cage? Is it anthropodenial not to?