Thursday, November 1, 2007

Pen-of-Fryers Contest

Is it just us, or is there something sleazy going on here? The three flirtatious hens, batting their eyes at us, knowing we're looking them over, hoping we'll select them for our special evening together? Do you, too, find the 1979 George C. Scott film Hardcore running through your mind?

The P-o-F Contest gets a whole lot more sleazy when you delve into its iffy milieu. For these chicks are not merely asking to be used and consumed. No, that's kids' stuff when it comes to the suicidefoodism movement.

The way this contest works is far, far more unnerving: Youthful entrants (this contest is for the under-20 set) will receive 15 actual, living chicks. (The avian kind.) After seven weeks, the entrants return with their three best fryers. These stables of chicks—the "pens" of the contest name—will be judged on "weight and uniformity," as well as any deformities they might be suffering from.

So! You plunk down your $10, walk away with 15 baby birds, and return seven weeks later so your downy charges—your favorites!—can be evaluated by the scrupulously clinical eye of the butcher. And then? And then? (You are drawn in, aren't you? This is the part where George C. Scott cried out, "Oh, my God! That's my daughter!")

According to contest materials: "Following judging the birds become the property of the contest and may not be taken home. The birds will be processed and donated to charity." Peculiar, isn't it, how euphemistic they get, when the express purpose of this event is to afford participants "the opportunity to gain a greater awareness and understanding of the poultry industry in Oregon." Surely the P-o-F Contest is the one place where we can all speak freely and frankly and eschew the use of such watered-down, keep-it-clean-for-the-civilians terms. We're all professionals here—these birds won't be "processed." They'll be killed, butchered, and eaten.

No wonder the hens are feeling a little frisky!

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