Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Today is International Respect for Chickens Day - and I'll be the first one to admit that I am not a vegetarian, vegan. nor do I partake in any protests that boycott KFC.
In fact, I rather enjoy the flavor of chicken skin- deep fried in a thick, crispy batter of seasoned flour. And the plump, white breast barbecued in a tasty mix of hickory-honey sauce. Mmmmmm...
But we are not here today to revel in the deliciousness of the chicken. We are here today to pay our tribute and respect for a terribly misunderstood farm animal.
Domestication of wild fowl began in Asia some 8,000 years ago. However, most experts think that chickens were not introduced to North America until some 5,000 years later.
It soon became a convenient source of food- one that could be used for both meat and eggs.
The average hen lays nearly 265 table eggs a year. And it takes her 24-26 hours to lay a single egg.
If fertilized by the male chicken (also known as the rooster, or cock), the eggs will hatch in 21 days.
And in the United States alone, 80 million eggs are produced a year and over 9 billion chickens are raised for food.
And that's no yolk!
(Just had to throw that in there. I was getting painfully serious for a moment, wasn't I?)
I bet you didn't know that the egg laying process for a chicken begins in its eye.
Chickens lay eggs only after receiving a light cue, either from natural sunlight entering a coop or artificial light illuminating a commercial egg hatchery.
The light stimulates a photo-receptive gland near the chicken's eye, which in turn triggers the release of an egg cell from the chicken's ovary.
I just wonder about the first human that decided to crack an egg and eat it. Especially witnessing its emergence from the birth canal into a bed of poopy straw.
Did he say, "Wow! I think I'll eat that!" ?
And later, did he drop a bit of raw egg on a hot rock by the fire and decide to taste its scrambled form? (It was probably the same fellow who decided to squeeze cow teats and enjoy a warm glass of milk.)
Last week, my husband and I were actually discussing the idea of raising chickens when he retires.
"Oh, won't that be cute! A little hen house with red window boxes and plump, white chickens laying on fresh nests...Dozens of eggs a week for breakfast, brunch and tuna salad!" I said excitedly.
"Yes- and they'll help eat table scraps and unwanted bugs - and we can butcher and freeze them, too," he said.
Of course, then came the reality of the whole giant chicken dream.
" What about coyotes and foxes?"
" Who will chicken-sit if we go on vacation?"
" How many times during a snow storm will we have to check their water and food supply?"
" What if we become emotionally attached to them and can't force ourselves to eat them?"
" What if the sky is really falling?"
"Forget it," I said, suddenly deciding that the price of eggs and fryers were not really that expensive. Considering.
I suppose the best way that chicken-eating-lovers like me can show their respect today, is by abstaining.
Skip KFC and eat fish.
Nix the chicken burrito and go for the beef.
Choose tuna salad over chicken salad and ask for pancakes instead of eggs, sunny side up.
Give poultry a day of rest, celebration and respect!
Now- let's shake our tail feathers, shall we?
Posted by Rae Frazier