Thursday, July 28, 2011


The Circle of Life is a happening thing in Turkey. Only, there, the people of Erpiliç recast the Circle of Life into "From Farm to Table." It's the kind of minor recalibration often undertaken by the suicidefoodists. Life, death… Let's not quibble.

To hear them tell it, the journey is one of love and sheer, bloody-minded adorableness. And shrink-wrapped meat, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

It starts with a flirtation, and then a bond is formed. A bond of attraction, surely, but more than that, a bond of enduring regard and trust. That chicken you're eating? It's made of love.

Our young chick joins the wider world, a world where she—yes, she; the useless males have long-since been lovingly pulverized—joins a community. She now has a social self.

Her original family is no longer even a memory to her. Her new family is a place of food and fattening up.

This is where things really start to veer from the traditional telling of the Circle of Life.

Because this is where we get to the part about cross-contamination. Which is why we see the (human) family member stepping through the cleansing bath. And then the masked family member making sure her hands are free of infectious agents. No doubt she'll perform similar procedures upon leaving the chickens' realm.

The glorious climax of the story! It's the confident march into the killing and packaging mechanism! The chickens transform themselves from pre-product—cumbersome, inconvenient—into Product, the hallowed culmination of the entire enterprise. The conclusion to a grand life, this perfectly brief waystation between not-life and not-life.

Or, as Erpiliç puts it, with equal parts poetry and horror:
In the first stage, blood is drained out of the carcass and then scalding process takes place in feather softening tank where chickens are prepared for defeathering. Subsequently, head is removed from the body and the headless carcass transferred to the evisceration line. During transfer process, feet of the chicken are cut using feet cutting machine.

Chickens are conveyed into the evisceration machine, and stomach area of the chicken is perforated. Evisceration machine completely removes internal organs of the chicken which come to the machine. The internal organs continue on the line towards the giblet separation machine, in which intestines and gall bladder are separated. Automation process continues in the subsequent stages. Chickens without internal organs are entered into the throat control machine where maws are removed and the chickens are passed to neck breaking machine. Chickens' necks are removed by the machine. Following removal of the necks, neck skins on the chickens are cut by a machine; and then the chickens are taken into the machine for complete washing including inside and out side.
Still with us? (The chickens aren't! Har har!)

It's the birth of a metaphor, a New Fable to shape our lives. It's all just a journey from farm to table, my friends. Farm to table.


Desdemona said...

Whoa. It's the juxtaposition of the kiddie-lit style illustrations with the clinical, soulless prose that adds a certain,, something. (Also: "evisceration machine" is a word combination I never need to see again.)

Red said...

And anyway, the cute hen falling in love with the handsome bantam isn't the way it happens anymore, thanks to artifical insemination. Maybe it still happens at Humane Farming Association's Suwanna Ranch, where they have rescued chickens.