Have I mentioned that I hate traffic? Another benefit associated with commuting is some time to ponder and mull over things that you might not necessarily have the time nor the inclination to mull at other times.

I tend to mull quite a bit while cursing driving to and from work. More often than not I think back to a TED Talk that peaked my interest. I love TED – a compilation of some of the greatest and most amazing ideas presented by really smart people.

On my way in the other day I happened to pass a truck full of chickens.

Truck full of chickens

Think chickens know how to hate? Wanna bet?

Giggling as I passed (and launching into an impromptu discussion between two chickens stacked on top of each other), I couldn’t help but think of a couple of things:

  1. Did any of those chickens see that bunk-bed scene in Step Brothers?
  2. Does that truck smells as bad as one filled with pigs?
  3. How many chickens are squeezed in there, and where are they going?
  4. I’m glad I’m beside this truck…

#3 reminded me of a TED Talk by Carolyn Steel on how food shapes our cities. It’s a fascinating and mind-blowing look at what it takes to feed a city. There’s another TED Talk by Louise Fresco where she discusses how the proliferation of agricultural technology has fundamentally changed how the world eats.

Both of these ladies talk about how human development and drive toward increasing efficiency and improving workflow have had an everlasting effect on both the human race and the entire globe.

So let’s step back for a second to think about this: those chickens on the truck – Where were they going? Where did they come from? What did they cost to get to that age and size? And how much is each of those chickens worth to me, the consumer, either as bite-sized morsels or slathered in Frank’s Red Hot sauce?

I go to Costco alot, and not just for the $1.99 (CDN) Hot Dog and Pop deal, but because buying big boxes of stuff at volume discounts just makes sense with kids and a chest freezer. Typically it’s my wife that tells me what to get, but next time I’m going to go out of my way to check out their chicken section. We’ve had the pre-cooked, ready-to-eat Whole BBQ Chicken (for around six bucks!) and I know my wife has bought the big cello-wrapped air-chilled chicken-pieces thing, but I’ve never really thought about where they came from before. Have you?

Anyone catch that Dirty Jobs episode where Mike Rowe had to go and “sex” the chicks at a chicken farm? Gross, yes, but stunning to see thousands upon thousands upon thousands of chickens, chicks, eggs, and all the machinations that are required to house, feed, care for and propagate the squeaking, stinking things.

I’m forced to think about a bylaw that was all the buzz in the news a while ago about allowing residents of vancouver to raise chickens on their municipal properties, and how that ties into the TED Talk from Carolyn Steel above. Why not let city-folk try and grow their own food? We have a vegetable garden out back and seriously, there’s nothing quite like a fresh tomato with a couple slug holes in it to really finish off a salad. Could I rear a chicken? Would you? What if your neighbour decided to? I can’t see as how that would be anywhere near as bad as listening to that freaking dog next door bark itself silly over a squirrel, then dropping a load next to my fence.

I’m not convinced it’s a fantastic idea, but shit, could it hurt? If all else fails, it is just a chicken, and Swiss Chalet sauce is only .79ยข a packet, and Gordon Ramsay has a f***king petting zoo in his yard and he let’s his kids name the things they’re going to eat

So if we can all start changing the way we look at agriculture and our local ecology and consider moving back toward self-provision, maybe things could get, to paraphrase Mr Ramsay, “fresh, honest, simple, local” again?

Either that, or we just sell the Vatican and Feed the World.

Go Sarah!