Saturday, June 17, 2006

chicken soul for the soup

A friend tells me he's helping out in a mate's chicken factory. I think he must mean the kind of place where desperate creatures peck themselves to death. But he reckons these particular birds, farmed for meat, have a comparatively good life. "All they do is eat and sleep, eat and sleep. They're happy enough."
I say it reminds me of something I read a few months ago, how scientists have found a way to grow steak in the lab. "Wouldn't that be the solution to all the cruelty?" I wonder.
But he shrugs. "I dunno. What if we're consuming more than just flesh when we consume animals?"
"You think we're consuming soul?" I say. He says maybe.
"Well, maybe the soul grows with it," I say.
Is it a soul worth savouring, though, if all the poor critter's doing is eating and sleeping all the time? (I'm jealous. Especially of the sleeping part.)
Later I dig out the clipping. Sun-Herald, undated, entitled "Fries with that lab burger?" It reports how, according to the journal Tissue Engineering, scientists at the University of Maryland in America have developed a technique of "scattering adult skeletal muscle satellite cells on a scaffold or carrier, such as a collagen meshwork...on thin membranes. Layers of flesh could be harvested to create edible steaks. Fish and poultry could also be made using the technique."
It's not quite GM green eggs and ham, but it's close. Actually it's closer to Gary Larson's Boneless Chicken Ranch, or that urban legend involving the fastfood chain using farmed mutant chicken torsos. But anyway...would you eat it, Sam-I-Am? I reckon I would, if it meant an end to animals suffering for us.