Two chicken producers have come up with a novel idea in salesmanship. They will start selling “stress-free” chicken in your local supermarket sometime soon, according to the New York Times. Rather than, say, merely slit the chicken’s neck to kill it, the companies plan to incapacitate the animal with carbon dioxide gas. Then slit its throat.
That’s a long way from my childhood experiences in a rural Kansas town. Nowadays I and my neighbors would be considered the most brutal of our species.
Harriett, who lived next to us in town, kept chickens in a pen behind her house. I remember many a time when this normally pleasant church-going woman would pull a squawking hen from the pen by its head. Then winding up like an oldtime baseball player, she would swing it around and around until its head snapped off. There Harriett stood with head in hand, watching as the rest of the chicken ran about the yard for a few seconds spurting blood before falling to the ground dead as can be.
It was a good lesson. At last I knew the true meaning of “running around like a chicken with its head cut off.” I never once thought about a stressed-out chicken in those days.
Nor did I think about a stressed-out fish.
My dad taught me to skin a catfish while it was still alive. We cut out the dorsal fin, scraped the tail and made a fine incision by the gills. Then holding the fish’s head, we used pliers to grab the skin at the incision point and pull it off from front to tail. Then at last we’d cut the tail off and wash it up, ready to eat. We also scaled crappies while they were alive, holding them by the head.
The flathead catfish were often too large, 50 pounds or more, to hold by the head and skin. Some anglers would hang the big fish on a tree to skin it, attaching it with a big nail driven through the head. For years you would see those skeleton heads hanging there along the river and creek banks.
I suppose if anyone was caught doing such inhumane deeds these days, we might have to answer to a higher authority. Sent up the river, even.
There seems to be a segment of our population that does not want to think about killing our food. Those people I suppose want not to see their nicely-wrapped store-bought chicken and fish as former living animals. Stress-free chicken sandwiches. Hmmmm.