by Jane Bauer
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi
I have a lot of mixed feelings about chickens; interestingly, I do not have mixed feelings about eggs. I think an examination of how humans relate to chickens can tell us a great deal about the ambiguousness of our morality. I know many people who will expound pedantically on the cruelties of cockfighting and then think nothing of picking up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Humans – we’re complex like that.
According to PETA, “Chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet”. And yet to be a voice for the chicken isn’t as noble or glamorous as fighting for dolphins’ freedom or the rights of dogs to be domesticated, treated as surrogate-children and flown to other countries for a better life. Worldwide over 50 billion chickens are slaughtered every year. Most of these are industrialized, fattened and killed at 42 days. A backyard chicken can live up to 12 years. So why are chickens so undervalued as sentient beings?
Granted, they aren’t as cuddly as puppies but they do fit comfortably in the crook of your arm and will rub their head on you in a very endearing way. Intelligence is a factor often given to justify supporting rights for certain animals – the dolphin being the poster-child for this movement. However, chickens aren’t stupid. They communicate with more than 24 vocalizations, each with a different meaning; they also recognize each other and have a good memory.
This month our writers explore chickens and the articles showcase the diversity of their interests and views. From pro-cockfighting to the history of the jungle fowl, to the variety of its call, to recipes on how to use the less-appreciated bits. Wherever your tastes lie on the chicken spectrum, we hope you enjoy this issue.
Wishing you the best in 2018!