Saturday Editorial: Where Chicken REALLY Comes From
I was 7-years old when I found out where chicken really comes from.
Up until then, I figured that chicken came in neat, yellow styrofoam containers put together by some nice man named Tyson (probably related to Mike). Packaged nicely in breaded, patty or nugget form– I made no connection between the cute, barnyard animal that made eggs and the contents of my lovely Happy meal. Chicken grew on trees for all I knew… Like bacon.
But on a humid summer Saturday, my world was officially rocked.
We were visiting relatives I vaguely remember, for some reason I vaguely remember. I do recall that it was hot as shit, it was on a farm in the boonies, and there were several kids my age referred to as my “third or fourth cousins” with most of them named Kyle or Jill-Ann.
The day started off like any other get together on the farm. Adults throwing back a few Busch Lights and shooting the shit– who’s getting’ hitched, who’s getting’ fat/ugly, how bad are the Vikings gonna suck this year– while the kids chase each other around the entire 40 acres and climb on anything that wasn’t barbed or electrified.
I distinctly remember my dad vigorously “high-fiving” my backside after I climbed to the top of grain silo on a dare. Apparently being “triple-dogged-dared” isn’t sufficient enough reason to climb a rusted out ladder on a rusted out silo 200-feet in the air. But the physical pain of parental discipline was no where close to the mental trauma that was on deck.
Chicken was on the menu that evening. But as I had visions of breaded, nuggety delights with BBQ sauce, my half in the bag uncle/cousin/relative had other ideas.
BL Smoothie in hand, he gathered everyone around the chicken coup, especially my family the “city folk” (although I’m not sure living in a town of 2000 qualifies us to such a title). He lured the largest hen from the roost with a handful of feed and ceremoniously hoisted the squawking bird above his head stating, “This one ‘ll do!” to many hoots, hollers, and raising of beverages in fanfare.
After the crowd died down, he unceremoniously held the chicken down to a tree stump with his boot, removed hatchet from belt, and abruptly separated chicken body from chicken head by its little chicken neck.
It then began to dance.
To the sounds of yells and cat calls usually reserved for the rowdiest of strippers, the headless chicken shook and gyrated as its life and soul slowly slipped from its body (also much like a stripper– sorry Nick).
Blood from the fowl’s recently aerated neck spewed like a geyser as it continued to flail around in front of the raucus crowd. The farm kids cheered in glee as I, being naïve and a rube to such occurrences, hid in terror behind my dad, face firmly planted in pant leg with only the occasional glance back at the action out of curiosity.
Eventually, the dancing, gyrating, and flailing stopped– as did the cheers. Looking back now, I’d like to think that everyone took a moment of silence in honor of the bird that had just given its life so that we could eat that evening… But in reality, the cheering probably only stopped because the dancing did (again, like a stripper).
The rest of the night was a bit of a blur. The chicken body from head separating occurred a few more times in order to feed the mob. Pretty sure I only had a wing and some coleslaw, I wasn’t too hungry after witnessing my first murder… There was also ice cream cake.
Thinking back, I’m actually glad I saw what I did. While most of you learned ‘where chicken comes from’ the easy way by watching a documentary in home EC class, I did it the hard way– Good old fashion brutal bluntness.
I can never unsee what I saw, but out of the experience I’ve grown a true appreciation for the meat that comes across our table. A living, breathing animal gave up their life so we could eat and live another day.
Just don’t ruin bacon for me. In my mind, that still comes from trees.
Andy is the Founder/Editor of Team EDR. His random collection of rants, tall tales, and misinformed opinions appear in the Saturday Editorial, right here at Eat.Drink.Repeat.