Over the summer, a strike by fast-food workers in Flint called attention to the low wages and poor benefits that workers at restaurants like Church’s Chicken must endure. Worse still might be a job at a poultry processing plant. A recent article in Salon cites a study by the Southern Poverty Law Center which finds that American workers in such plants face an injury rate 50 percent higher than for workers in other industries.
Nevertheless, many of these jobs may soon belong to workers in China. The USDA has apparently green-lighted four Chinese processing plants to begin processing the corpses of chickens slaughtered in the U.S. and it is likely that more will follow. The announcement was made on the Friday prior to the Labor Day weekend so as not to draw the attention of consumers.
But even chicken processing in the U.S. is neither safe for humans nor humane for the chickens. Most factory-farmed chickens are injected with saltwater solutions to make them gain weight. Eventually they are slaughtered in assembly-line facilities where they are stunned (not paralyzed, and so consequently they still feel pain) before having their throats slit.
And chicken farming adds a tremendous amount of pollution to both land and waterways. Because the farms saturate water with phosphorous and nitrogen, aquatic life is deprived of crucial oxygen.
On the bright side, some lucky hens recently found a kinder fate waiting for them as SASHA Farm, an animal rescue in southeast Michigan. The spent hens were to be gassed at their egg farm in California until their owner relented and agreed to their redistribution at nine different animal sanctuaries across the country. At SASHA, they will enjoy grass under their feet and sunlight; free from the terrible confinement they once had to endure.
If the suffering inflicted on chickens and other animals bothers you, why not experiment with meat-free alternatives. Indeed, if you are interested in trying a cruelty-free meal, SASHA is holding a vegan chili cook-off on Saturday, September 21st. Come out and meet new friends and enjoy some fantastic food.