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Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

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Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics
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PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

An absurdity i have recently came across is "Ethical Consumerism".

And ill try to explain why i call it an absurdity by taking the case of chickens as an example.

An "Ethical Consumer" will boycott the caged hen chicken, and therefore not purchase it in favour for the more expensive free range chicken - by which they will be "positively buying".

Now this works on two levels, self - fulfilling satisfaction that they are being an ethical consumer, which is best summed up with the south park episode 'Smug Alert' . And on the other hand the action of positive buying and ethical consumption is an active method to change production. That is to discourage the production of caged hens by boycott, via negative influence of decreased sales and a decreased market for caged hens.

1. what is firstly a problem is class. If you are faced with a chicken which costs ,£3 and one which costs ,£8 and you need to feed a family of four with ,£5. Well, you buy the caged chicken. (or the poor could abstain from chicken....)

2. in order to alter production methods what is actually happening is that the chicken which has already been caged and slaughtered and is plastic wrapped in the fridge, necessarily needs to be not bought, put in a bin and incinerated or put into land fill. Which in reality means that millions of chickens must be sacrificed and wasted (whilst people starve around the world) in order to influence more ethical production.

3. which touches on the larger absurdity - capitalism .

So although i disagree with caged hen production, to be ethical , i will purchase caged hen eggs and chicken. Because firstly i cant afford free ranged, and secondly the dead chicken is only going to be chucked.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:14 pm
tuxboxLeague LegendUser avatarPosts: 1172Joined: Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:05 amLocation: Vero Beach Gender: Tree

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Yep, I want the government to control everything. That will be much better for everyone!
"Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man." ~ Thomas Paine
Tue Oct 16, 2012 6:38 am
VisakiUser avatarPosts: 785Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:26 pmLocation: Helsinki, Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Talking about chicken. Here in Finland we had new norms for chicken producers this year and as far as I understand it cagechicken producing became illegal. The immidiate effect was as follows: we had an egg shortage in Easter, the chicken meat prices have gone up and about one third of chicken producers quit the industry are in the process of doing so due to the infrasturucture costs needed to fulfil the new regulations (Finnish production units of chicken were pretty small).

But at least the chicken we eat lived a happier life. Until they were decapitated, plucked and gutted that is. What we also got was a good example on how not to impose new regulations.

All in all I think I'm in the middle on this ethical consumerism thing. Some regulations are nesessarry but too much will ruin lives of the people in the production chain and hike the food costs up so poorer people can't afford some products (like that family having 5€ for food, they used to have an option to buy a cage chicken or not, but now they just can't afford a free range chicken because some people think it's better for the poor to suffer culinarily than the chicken to suffer). This is hardly a black-and-white matter.
Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:23 am
Your Funny UncleUser avatarPosts: 556Joined: Sat May 22, 2010 11:38 amLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

PAB wrote:1. what is firstly a problem is class. If you are faced with a chicken which costs ,£3 and one which costs ,£8 and you need to feed a family of four with ,£5. Well, you buy the caged chicken. (or the poor could abstain from chicken....)

This is, as you allude to in point three, and anti-capitalist argument, not an anti-ethical chicken argument. With a fairer distribution of wealth, this wouldn't be such an issue.

PAB wrote:2. in order to alter production methods what is actually happening is that the chicken which has already been caged and slaughtered and is plastic wrapped in the fridge, necessarily needs to be not bought, put in a bin and incinerated or put into land fill. Which in reality means that millions of chickens must be sacrificed and wasted (whilst people starve around the world) in order to influence more ethical production.

Again the problem seems to be less with the ethics than with the capitalist system. Until and unless the world starts working differently, the only means to change chicken production is to cause a drop in demand for factory farmed meat, producing these wasted chickens, but hopefully leading to fewer chickens suffering in the long run, despite the initial waste.

Another thing to consider, with regard to your point about feeding starving people, is that there are strong arguments that we really should be eating less meat as a whole if we want to feed the world and its growing population. Large percentages of agricultural production is spent growing food for our meat, which is not the most efficient way to feed the planet, so maybe meat should be more of a luxury item that we eat more sparingly. The poor family (and indeed the richer if they are truly being ethical) might buy the more expensive chicken and split it between more than one recipe, bulking out the protein with pulses or other veggie alternatives, which are cheaper to produce and have a smaller carbon footprint.
“I don't believe in an afterlife, so I don't have to spend my whole life fearing hell, or fearing heaven even more. For whatever the tortures of hell, I think the boredom of heaven would be even worse.” - Isaac Asimov
Tue Oct 16, 2012 10:30 am
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PABUser avatarPosts: 382Joined: Fri Oct 09, 2009 10:34 pmLocation: UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Your Funny Uncle wrote: Again the problem seems to be less with the ethics than with the capitalist system.


But the two things are intertwined. As the issue is to do with "ethical" consumption, which follows from "ethical" production under capitalism.

And the ethical issue that arises is - is it okay for millions of chickens to be wasted in the long run. (especially considering the amount of food that is wasted as it is).

so to be ethical requires abolishing capitalism in order to have a planned economy.
"The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil...there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy." Albert Einstein
Tue Oct 16, 2012 8:11 pm
TheMissingNUser avatarPosts: 11Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2012 4:15 pm Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

With regards to point 1:
Vegetables are MUCH cheaper than meat. A genuinely poor family is thus likely to consume far less meat.

With regards to point 2:
At no point do the chickens get "sacrificed" for the cause. Granted, the millions of chickens will go to waste, but the chicken's life is already over. So from the chicken's point of view, I don't think it matters that much whether it gets bought or not.
And just to complete the argument, starving people aren't making a sacrifice either. Regardless of whether the chicken is bought or not, it won't go to them. It seems unfair, sure, but that has nothing to do with the question of whether boycotting meat is worth it.

Yours, etc.
Alexander
Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:40 pm
VisakiUser avatarPosts: 785Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:26 pmLocation: Helsinki, Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

TheMissingN wrote:With regards to point 1:
Vegetables are MUCH cheaper than meat. A genuinely poor family is thus likely to consume far less meat.

Yours, etc.
Alexander

At least in Finland, no. Potatos are but that's about it. You can get marinated chicken breast/leg (that have the hind leg and the breast meat in it) pieces for about 3€/kg (even cheaper when they are on sale) and most vegetables, specially in the wintertime when we have to impost most of them, are more expensive than that.
Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:23 am
Nom_de_PlumeUser avatarPosts: 247Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:36 pmLocation: Western Canada Gender: Female

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Ok, I know I'm probably way biased on this, seeing as I'm a pasture ranged egg/chicken/turkey farmer.
Here prices for this type of product are around the $8.82CAD/kg eggs are $4.25CAD/doz and commercially grown stuff is half that price.
It's a very tough call when you have to compare money to ethics, and I know if I didn't grow my own and get it for cheap (I usually eat the bruised/cracked stuff) I'd be hard pressed to actually afford it myself.
One thing I have noticed though is flavour... if I make a soup or chicken pot pie with my own chicken I don't need to add any flavour enhancing powdered chicken stock to get a really good tasting pie or soup, but with the commercially grown chicken I do, as it tastes like nothing.
I've actually noticed a huge uptick in egg sales recently. My new customers complained to me that the commercially grown eggs aren't cooking properly and you have to overcook the yolk in order for the white to solidify properly. They say they don't have this issue with the eggs we grow here where the hens run around outside all day.
*shrug* strange hey?
The supreme irony of life is that no one gets out of it alive.
~Robert A Heinlein
Thu Nov 08, 2012 7:24 pm
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FrengerBloggerUser avatarPosts: 831Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:50 pmLocation: Derby, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Frankie Boyle, a Scottish comedian did a funny sketch on this, he basically said

"It was great, when the country was a bit richer everybody was saying, ""well, I only eat organic, I want all my meat to come from organic farms, I have to know the animals had a good life"", then came the credit crunch and suddenly it's ""I don't care if the only light that chicken ever sees is the one inside my oven""

I myself avoid this tricky subject of consumer ethics by being a vegetarian. Seems to do the trick.
Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:22 am
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Nom_de_PlumeUser avatarPosts: 247Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:36 pmLocation: Western Canada Gender: Female

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Frenger wrote:Frankie Boyle, a Scottish comedian did a funny sketch on this, he basically said

"It was great, when the country was a bit richer everybody was saying, ""well, I only eat organic, I want all my meat to come from organic farms, I have to know the animals had a good life"", then came the credit crunch and suddenly it's ""I don't care if the only light that chicken ever sees is the one inside my oven""

I myself avoid this tricky subject of consumer ethics by being a vegetarian. Seems to do the trick.


How does that do the trick exactly? You'd still have similar ethics concern when it comes to health/safety of workers on those vegetable farms and environmental concerns with pesticide use.
Someone posted this to my facebook the other day. I thought it was apt.
Image
The supreme irony of life is that no one gets out of it alive.
~Robert A Heinlein
Sat Nov 10, 2012 2:58 pm
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FrengerBloggerUser avatarPosts: 831Joined: Mon Nov 07, 2011 12:50 pmLocation: Derby, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Nom_de_Plume wrote:How does that do the trick exactly? You'd still have similar ethics concern when it comes to health/safety of workers on those vegetable farms and environmental concerns with pesticide use.
Someone posted this to my facebook the other day. I thought it was apt.
Image


Sorry, how does not eating meat get me out of the tricky conversation regarding the ethical eating of meat? I don't know how to answer that question sorry.

As for your completely unrelated follow up question my answer is I don't know. It's a very difficult question and not one I have looked into enough to form an informed opinion.

However my uninformed opinion is that any nationwide initiative that is detrimental to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants is not a good thing. However I am fully aware that the population of our species is so that these kinds of steps are, at this time, imperative. I suppose I would ask for balance, and by that I mean keeping certain areas (in fact as much area as possible) free from such human endeavours while also properly funding research into realistic alternatives. While this is clearly what I should imagine most people would ask for, it may not be realistic at this time.
Mon Nov 12, 2012 10:10 am
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Nom_de_PlumeUser avatarPosts: 247Joined: Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:36 pmLocation: Western Canada Gender: Female

Post Re: Chicken Ethics : middle class consumer ethics

Frenger wrote:Sorry, how does not eating meat get me out of the tricky conversation regarding the ethical eating of meat? I don't know how to answer that question sorry.

Sorry, yes of course you're correct that not eating meat totally gets you out of ethical conversations about the ethics of eating "meat" I didn't mean to imply that it didn't, I was talking about ethics regarding food in general, I believe this topic could also include buying mass produced products from environmentally hazardous companies that use slave/child labour.

I suppose I read the original post as bigger than it actually was and basically linked it all together under the umbrella of the ethics surrounding middle class consumerism.
I've noticed that ones pocketbook can be a very effective tool in getting things changed.
Over the last 10 years (here in my own province) I've noticed a huge shift in what is available in stores and how things are marketed based solely on what the consumers have demanded. Although, sometimes the product hasn't actually changed, just the marketing style to make people assume it has.

So going with that....I didn't see the next question as completely unrelated.
Frenger wrote:As for your completely unrelated follow up question my answer is I don't know. It's a very difficult question and not one I have looked into enough to form an informed opinion.

However my uninformed opinion is that any nationwide initiative that is detrimental to the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants is not a good thing. However I am fully aware that the population of our species is so that these kinds of steps are, at this time, imperative. I suppose I would ask for balance, and by that I mean keeping certain areas (in fact as much area as possible) free from such human endeavours while also properly funding research into realistic alternatives. While this is clearly what I should imagine most people would ask for, it may not be realistic at this time.


I will admit, that I do tend to get the bit between my teeth and run with it... I'll try and scale that back a bit.
The supreme irony of life is that no one gets out of it alive.
~Robert A Heinlein
Mon Nov 12, 2012 2:35 pm
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