Warning: Baby chicks ground alive so we can eat our omelets


Horror, but no surprise, was my reaction when I first read of the undercover video shot at an Iowa hatchery, where day-old male chicks are sent, alive, through a grinder. Their sisters are destined for egg production; Hy-Line North America, the hatchery in the video (below), sells 33.4 million chicks a year. For Americans to eat eggs for breakfast, these chicks must die. This practice is not a shocking exception; this is standard and, according to officials at the hatchery, the "instantaneous euthanasia" is supported by veterinarians and agricultural scientists. Chicken farmers and sustainable food activists couldn't help but realize something like this was occurring: because our poultry system is almost irreparably broken.

I am most decidedly not a vegetarian, but I haven't eaten chicken in more than a year and I raise all my own eggs in my backyard (from chickens who, I now know, must have seen their brothers perish by chipper) because of my discomfort with our modern poultry practices. Here is how the industry works, today: only one breed of chickens is raised for meat, the Cornish Cross. (According to chicken farmers and industry experts who I've questioned, greater than 99 percent of American meat chickens are Cornish Cross.)