Posts Tagged ‘eating animals’

The First Chicken

Your progeny will be known as Gallus domesticus, chicken, cock, hen, poultry, the Chicken of Tomorrow, broiler, layer, Mr. McDonald, and many other names. Each name tells a story, but no stories have been told, no names have yet been given to you or any animal.

Like all animals in this time before the beginning, you reproduce according to your own preferences and instincts. You are not fed, forced to labor, or protected. You are not marked as a possession with brands or tagging. No one has even thought of you as something that could be possessed or owned.

As a wild rooster; you survey the landscape, warn others of intruders with complex calls, and defend mates with beak and sharp toes. As a wild hen, you begin communicating with your chicks even before they hatch, responding to peeps of distress by shifting your weight. The image of your motherly protection and care will be used in the second verse of Genesis to describe the hovering of God’s first breath over the water. Jesus will invoke you as an image of protective love: “I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.” But Genesis has not yet been written, nor Jesus born.

I just love the type of thinking Foer presents in this quote. Sometimes things come first, and other times, things just think they came first. Before we learned how to engineer the life and production of a chicken, they lived. Yet humans were probably still able to eat chickens from time to time, as hard as it is to believe. For some reason it is comforting (and scary) to think that chickens have an existence entirely outside of me and my story.

From feeling like I eat too much and purposely eating too little to my newest contemplation (vegetarianism), my history with food is wide and varied. There are scary stories to be told, laughs to be had, and joyous times with loved ones to be remembered.

My vegetarian exploits have brought me to Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals (that’s where this quote is from). In the book, Foer encourages his reader to consider the story that comes with eating and emphasizes that these stories are not ones told from the quiet seclusion of individuality. Food, whether we like it or not, is communal. From the people we eat with (or without) to the animals we eat (or abstain from eating), every choice we make involves another form of existence in one way or another. This, considered with the fact that chickens (and all of our food) have an existence outside of us (humans) seems to demand that we show a little more respect to the food we eat, or at least that we take a little more time to consider where it came from.

I’m still not entirely sure what this means for me and my food story. All I know for now is that I will try to be a little more conscious of what relationships I am forming (or supporting) with the food I eat.


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