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comment by kleinbl00

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Molly Ivins devoted a chapter to poultry workers in 2004, based on research she started publishing in 1999:

    Lest you think hideous working conditions are found only in the Third World, consider the case of Big Chicken, the poultry industry in America.

    Workers in chicken factories endure conditions that would shame Guatemala or Honduras. Many stand for hours on end in sheds that reek of manure, or chop chickens all day in cold, dark plants, or are constantly scratched by live chickens that have to be crammed into cages by the thousands.

    The New York Times reported that the Rev. Jim Lewis, an Episcopal priest whose assignment is to improve the lives of poultry workers, once led a wildcat strike against a plant where a worker was fired after he had a finger cut off. The wages are so low, workers often qualify for welfare. And as Texans know from our experience with Big Chicken in East Texas, these plants are often notorious polluters as well, fouling both air and water.

You can go to the grocery store and get a whole fryer for about $4. Want it "organic?" that's about $7. If you want a farmer's market chicken, they're around $25. That's about $21 worth of externalities per chicken.

ButterflyEffect  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm okay with that. We should get closer to paying for the real value of a chicken, or pig, or strawberries, than what we're currently paying. If that means improved labor conditions, less pollution, and not supporting industry that creates a welfare state then I consider those all wins. Who knows, maybe it would even reduce the amount of food waste and make us more efficient with our food.

By buying from the Walmarts of the world or the large scale factories of the world, we support an environment that is less than admirable, and exploitative of the workforce. This is where Trump fails, and where wall supporters fail, I think. I'd wager that the majority of these workers are immigrants, legally or illegally. The fallacy of "they'll take our jobs" is ridiculous because nobody wants to work in these conditions.

OftenBen  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    We should get closer to paying for the real value of a chicken, or pig, or strawberries, than what we're currently paying.

I had a revelation about that at the farmers market last week. I was eyeing a big piece of ethically raised ribeye and noticed that it was hella expensive compared to the ribeye you'd see at the grocery store. But then I thought about how my great grandparents bought meat, and how a roast was a big goddamn deal to them because it was expensive. If I had bought that piece of ribeye, it would have been a big deal to me. If I had bought a more-evil slice of meat at a lower price, I really wouldn't care as much. The cows my grand-cestors ate were raised basically like the ethically sourced meat I would buy today. They paid a premium for that meat, and it makes sense that I should do the same.

Coincidentally, eating vegetarian has become easier and easier as time goes on. I prefer to make meat a conscious decision, rather than a 'oh well it's here' default.

kleinbl00  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I pay $7.99 a pound for heritage-breed turkeys once or twice a year. That's more than roast beef, and it's fucking delicious.

Most people view thanksgiving turkeys as obligatory.

They're doing it wrong.

snoodog  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    The fallacy of "they'll take our jobs" is ridiculous because nobody wants to work in these conditions.

If that's true then by getting rid of NAFTA and allowing no illegal immigrants and fewer unskilled legal ones there will be nobody that will take these jobs. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Innovation will have to occur and these jobs will have to restructured into jobs that are something Americans are willing to do.

kleinbl00  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The problem, as always, is implementation.

Hit chicken with an 800% markup and those food stamps lose a lot of utility. The responsible party will not be thanked for saving the foodchain, they will be lynched for instigating food riots.

snoodog  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Paying people reasonable wages and allowing them to work in safe conditions wont result in 800% markup. At most it will add a couple cents a pound to each chicken. In the modern free trade environment that would be unacceptable and drive American producers out of business but with 10% tariff an all countries that pay their employees less than we do US industry would be able to compete just fine.

kleinbl00  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

That implies that the small producers are taking a 790% profit and I don't think that's an easy argument to make. There are economies of scale, obviosly, but ethical, sustainable poultry is a long road from 79 cents a pound.

snoodog  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Small producers have no economy of scale. We own 3 chickens and just the hatchlings cost me more than a 5lb chicken from the store. Add in 6 months of food and I'm probably at 25-30 bucks a chicken before I get a single egg. Since I can't get a chicken to weight (food wise) for the price i pay for a cleaned full grown chicken obviously there is a different price scale at the mass production end.

My ethics don't really extend to the chicken itself it's got the intellectual capacity of an ant. Ifit was cheaper to grow them in test tubes I wouldn't even be opposed to that. But I do think that that the people working these facilities should be treated better and I have empathy for them.

kleinbl00  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I know no one who has raised chickens who views them more favorably than iguanas. Most people I've met are indifferent to lizards but actively disparaging of chickens.

Bill McKibben in Eaarth describes attempting to get local farmers around his place in New Hampshire to produce sustainable bacon. None of them could do it for less than $14/lb.

dingus  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I don't like the concept of 'voting with your wallet'. It essentially says, you have the choice of having enough money to live or being an ethical person. In almost all cases, those are mutually exclusive.

Instead, we should get rid of the system that means people have to work 12-hour shifts to feed themselves, and you have to put up with that because otherwise you can't feed yourself. It's all a vicious cycle that we have the power to break, if we choose to.

kleinbl00  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Don't tbink of it as voting with your wallet. Think of it as supporting the things you believe in. Turn that frown upside down.

dingus  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Still have to choose between non-poverty and supporting what I believe in. Not a good choice.

user-inactivated  ·  2281 days ago  ·  link  ·  

1991 Was supposedly the inspiration for Ivins to look into the chicken industry.