A Visit to Chicken Hell

Just delivered at a poultry processing plant in Lewiston, North Carolina. Man. Everyone should visit such a place. Look, I’m not naive. I know that you don’t stock supermarkets with gazillions of tons of chicken flesh without these large processing plants. But it’s one thing to know all this and understand the basics of the process in an abstract way. It’s something else entirely to smell the place. To step over puddles of reeking water. To pick chicken feathers from your hair. And I didn’t even go into the processing area.
I brought in some packaging. Think of the styro-foam trays your fresh chicken breasts come in. They told me to drop my trailer in the drop lot which was around the back of the plant. Well, when I pulled around there were about 20 flatbed trailers under sheds, most fully loaded with live chickens. I’m sure you’ve seen these trailers going down the road, with chickens in cages that are stacked high. I had to drop my trailer with these chickens watching me. Somehow I just knew they knew I had pouches of chicken meat on the truck.
Pigeons kept landing near the trailers and looking up at the chickens, as if saying “Heya, fellas. What are ya’ll doing?” I couldn’t help thinking “That’s not a party you want to go to, ya pigeon.”
Well, like I said. I’ve never deluded myself about where chicken products come from and how they’re processed. But I never had to smell one of these places. Much less look a chicken in the eye and say “Yeah, I have a few of your buddies on the truck.”
But really, the one thing I can’t get out of my mind is the smell. Believe it or not, the most disturbing thing was that the the place smelled like … chicken. And I don’t mean KFC here. The next time you buy fresh chicken breasts from the supermarket, put the meat to your nose and take a good whiff. Then imagine an entire area smelling like that.
I think if I eat anything else today, I may just get me a hamburger. I haven’t had to smell cows in awhile.

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