Sunday, January 15, 2006

The economics of chicken

Today at church a man kissed my head. I was not okay with that.

It has recently been announced that Waco is getting a chicken processing plant and a hatchery. Between the two facilities, 1300 people will be employed and millions of dollars will be brought into the area. Also, production employees, after a year of work, will be making $10.10/hour, which is a really good wage for these parts. (Much better than what Baylor pays, but I won't go into that right now.)

This all sounds great. But is it really?

First of all, I'm currently reading a book about slaughterhouses entitled Slaughterhouse: The Shocking Story of Greed, Neglect, and Inhumane Treatment inside the U.S. Meat Industry (Thanks Cecilia!). The book is about just that, how horrible slaughterhouses really are. Now I'm not an animal rights person by any means. Heck, I don't even really care about animals at all. I don't get the big deal. But what strikes me from this book is how dirty and gross slaughterhouses really are. They are filthy and the meat can be contaminated in so many ways. It's actually quite sick. I don't think I want to eat meat that has been in vats of water that also have feces in it. Call me crazy, but that just doesn't sound very appetizing.

The workers at the slaughterhouses in the book are treated very poorly. Their jobs are extremely dangerous and many of them have been severly injured while on the job. Many of the people interviewed for the book have quit for fear of their lives. They had too many close calls and just couldn't work there anymore.

I'm not saying that the chicken places that are coming to Waco will be like those in the book I'm reading. The company that's coming could be very humane to the animals and treat their workers with the respect they deserve. Their facilities could very well be extremely clean so that they don't cross contiminate their meat. I don't know. We'll have to see. But what I do know is that they said that they will be exporting most of their dark meat. Since Americans generally prefer the white meat, they have to do something with the dark meat so they'll probably be dumping it on developing countries. Which means that people in those countries will not be able to sell their poultry as easily since there is an abundance of cheap chicken from the United States.

All this to say that I do not know if its good or bad that Waco is getting chicken plants. Maybe it's both.

10 comments:

Cecilia said...

Yeah, that book is good if you never want to be able to look at meat the same way again. Raw meat freaks me out so bad, especially birds and ground hamburger. One of my roommates was making hamburger the other night and it's just so gross. And there was meat juice everywhere. Nasty. He seemed to think that I couldn't know anything about meat since I don't eat it, but maybe I don't eat because I know about it. It's not right to kill and eat sick or dead animals or to have the meat be so incredibly dirty.
That book is also good for the person who's not so into animal rights because it talks so much about what happens to the workers in slaughterhouses. It just doesn't seem natural to beat animals all day, but what do I know...
And I know that there are way more pressing reason to be vegetarian than animal rights, but as a Christian, I can't believe that God created humans and animals to have humans treat animals so poorly. I would NEVER skin my cat alive (I love Ada). Why would I eat cow that's been skinned alive? Killing them is fine, but there are humane ways to do it. Perhaps they'll be used in Waco.

Cecilia said...

The wage part is cool though. That book talks about using illegals in slaughterhouses a lot and then treating them even crappier than citizens. So it's cool that it pays well. It's well deserved pay.

kodjo said...

Commercially grown and slaughtered chickens are nasty. Ditto for ground beef. Those two are about as nasty as it gets.

That said, I went to the rodeo today. Good times!

Golda said...

Another piece of the puzzle though, one of my roommate's family "grows" chickens for a different company. They have 120,000, give or take. I've seen them, they're treated humanely. And she swears up and down that everything is done in an ethical manner. But i just don't know.

Mary Beth said...

Hey girl, you should visit Cargill sometime. It's a turkey factory/slaughterhouse. I worked there for 3 years teaching GED/ESL. The pay sucks, the people are mostly contracted to work through other companies so Cargill can get by with paying them min. wage and not giving them due wage raises and benefits. Many who work there are immigrants...some working there for 13+ years without a raise or benefits. I'll get off my soapbox. I thought you might wanna know it's already in Waco, just in turkey.

Golda said...

Yes, why haven't we thought about using the resources that we already have?? Hmm. Although, it does remind me of a quote from the great Mr. Wonka:

"Everything in this room is *eat*able. Even I'm *eat*able. But that is called cannibalism, my dear children, and is in fact frowned upon in most societies."

Golda said...

Mary Beth, i didn't realize that that was in Waco. Very interesting. I'll have to look into that more. Sounds horrible.

Mary Beth said...

Yea, it is horrible. It is one of the largest privately owned corporations in the world someone told me. Pilgrims pride is right up there with it. I'm glad I found your blog on Anali's blog :) What are you doing when you graduate (I'm sure you're sick of hearing that question)?

Mary Beth said...

Oh btw- who kissed your head at church???

Golda said...

I have no idea what I'm doing when I graduate. Possibly moving to DC, possibly staying in Waco. Who knows?

And I have no idea who it was who kissed my head. He may have been homeless. He may have been drunk. But it creeped me out.