If you enjoy a good roasted chicken and would like to continue to do so, you might want to stop reading now.
Because chicken as we know it—breasts cut up on onto a Caesar salad, nuggets fried in pieces in a bucket, drumsticks wrapped in plastic in the supermarket—is hardly the Little Red Hen of the children’s tale, free to peck around the farmyard as she goes through the steps of baking her own bread.
Chicken is now a commodity, protein to be delivered in the form of white meat as cheaply as possible to consumers.
And the cost of that system is considerable, as Maryn McKenna outlines in her book Big Chicken.
Ag vs. antibiotics
McKenna’s crusade is against the rising threat of antibiotic resistance, and it is a worthwhile endeavor. Her description of a post-antibiotic world looks a lot like the pre-antibiotic world, in which roughly a quarter of children died of infectious diseases before their fifth birthday, surgery and chemotherapy were impossible, and a skinned knee could be fatal—and often was.
It was a horrifying time to be alive.
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