I am Afraid of McDonald’s Chicken

It’s spreading. Once I saw that pink slime, I would never, ever again eat a McNugget. Didn’t matter if the ammonia claim wasn’t true. A distinction, as they say, without a difference. Then I saw the blender video—hack, hack, whirl, whirl—and every piece of chicken that wasn’t immediately recognizable as a bird became suspect.

(Several weeks ago at the tennis tournament when I ordered a chicken crepe and peeking from the edge of the wrapping was a squarish chicken thing—well, it was all I could do not to run screaming and hollering down the hallway: “Get out while you can! They’re feeding us beaks!”)

The “does it look like a leg?” litmus test has its own problems. To wit, if the answer is yes, it looks like a leg! A near-constant reminder every time you approach your food that you are eating one of your fellow creatures. Like the little chicken stuck on the vertical chicken roaster, its naked body trapped in the oven: help! help! it cries, arms raised.

The “is this really chicken?” issue is just the beginning. Then we have antibiotics and hormones (just slap that “organic” label on there, he he, they’ll never know the difference.) And, the more ephemeral but eternally haunting question of the chicken purveyors: are they mean to their chickens? (fondly known as the Weezie test).

Chicken may not be worth it.

All well and good. Then my husband sends me an article about that “meat” they’re hocking in schools. And I see the still photo of the poor pregnant pigs laboring in metal troughs (I couldn’t stand to click on the video.) And who can forget Sarah Palin’s pals feeding the turkeys, head first, into the funnel?

I’m on the verge of giving up all meat.

Which leaves fish. The tuna in the can that l can pretend never leapt through the waves (but whose capture probably kills dolphins) and surely shrimp are safe—shrimp look like shrimp, nobody shapes goo to look like shrimp, right? But are they raised in beds contaminated with raw sewage? I don’t even want to think about the origins of the “filet o’ fish” sandwich.

“You are what you eat,” they say which, given the above, is bad enough. But, now that I know, am I also the unconcern with which I chomp into that animal that began life as a cute little thing only to be tortured into the “food chain” and thus on its way to my lazy stomach?

My friend Robb Pate told me one time that very slow photography of a rose being clipped shows the rose retreating from the advancing shears.

Here’s to creative synthesis . . .

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