Kathleen Stachowski Other Nations
Today it was corndogs. Two days ago it was feathers. More often than not, something I read in the local morning paper gets my goat. It’s not that I go looking for the dark side, mind you. Whether an article deals with fun, food, or fashion, if the news-maker relies on animal exploitation, I see the backstory no matter how deftly it goes unmentioned. It’s probably like that for you, too. Animal rights folks tend to see the big picture–the one that includes the suffering and the slaughter. Sigh.
First, the corndogs. The headline advises me to “Celebrate corndogs, hoops on national day.” Turns out that National Corndog Day is “the first Saturday in March after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament kicks off.” Factory farming giant Foster Farms is a sponsor (“Foster Farms Corn Dogs are fun-tastic anytime!“). A local bar and restaurant is sponsoring a celebration–proof that if you market it, they will bite.The festivities include an eating contest. What a cackle it would be to show up with this undercover video shot at Foster Farms! Once the PBR starts flowing, though, it’s unlikely that anyone will much care about Foster Farms’ violations, questionable claims, or the billions of sentient lives spent and snuffed in hopeless and abject misery. Nah, they’ll be scarfing their cornbreaded, mechanically separated chicken franks and havin’ a fun-tastic blast!
Next, the feathers. “Raising hackles,” the headline trumpets in my morning print edition. “Popularity of premium fly-tying feathers causes shortage for anglers.” Understand that I live in A River Runs Through It country, where fly fishing is considered a religion. You know what I mean–tricking a fish to embed a steel hook in her mouth, ripping her from her only known universe, then pretending that you’re locked in a noble sporting match with her as she struggles in terror for her life. Yeah, that’s the spirituality I’m talkin’ about.
The problem is that the feathers in question aren’t everyday chicken feathers. The feathers most valued both by fly-tiers and, lately, fashion mavens come from specific types of roosters that are selectively bred to produce long, slender feathers. Such chickens typically take almost a full year to raise before slaughter – unlike meat-birds, which are typically slaughtered after just six weeks of life.
So here we are, fashionistas vs. anglers, duking it out over the sacrificial rooster at the dual altars of fashion and fishing. In their own words, first this, from a fashion blog: “…when done in moderation, its (sic) extremely cute, fun and flirty! Don’t take life so seriously :)”
And this, from the angler perspective: ” ‘For a fly-tier, those necks are really expensive,’ he said, estimating that the most in-demand capes of neck-feathers cost $60-$100. ‘That neck would last a lifetime for someone tying flies…’ ”
And the rooster who once relied on that neck?
Rooster? What rooster?
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