In keeping with this blog’s recent poultry theme, I feel a responsibility to bring you coverage of the week’s other important chicken-related story. It all started with a box labeled “Certified Organic Chicken Broth.”
If a little voice is chuckling inside your head, then you might appreciate the original post on the matter by Heather Armstrong of dooce.com. Basically, she argues, the whole idea of organic chicken broth is ridiculous. “Do you really expect me to believe that [the organic free range part] can be transferred to the water?” she writes.
“The idea of organic free range chickens isn’t necessarily funny,” Armstrong later explains, “but when you put that label on a box of chicken broth, there is an incongruity there that is a little absurd. As if the broth water itself was out grazing feed next to the barn.”
I kind of get where she’s coming from. After the point at which a carcass has been stripped of its usable flesh, plunged into a pot of boiling water, and rendered into liquid form, does its organic designation really matter? And if it does, would it be okay, then, to market free-range chicken bouillon cubes, where the chicken broth has been dehydrated into a powder, mixed with certified organic MSG, and pressed into cube form?
Somehow, these things seem a few too many steps removed from the chicken’s organic upbringing to merit full credit. Partial credit, at best. Or, maybe, it’s just the thought that counts.
Of course, most rational people believe that chickens (and all livestock, for that matter) deserve humane living conditions as a matter of course, a point so blatantly obvious as to be easily glossed over (which Armstrong did). And so the writer, no stranger to hate mail, was bombarded with complaints accusing her of being unsympathetic to the plight of the chickens and organic farming in general.
But, I had another bone to pick with her, and so I fired off an angry letter of my own. It went a little something like this:
Somehow, I think you have lost sight of the BIG PICTURE!!!
Yes, the chicken in the broth of which you speak may be certified organic, but what of the water? IS THE WATER ORGANIC?
What’s the point of going to all the time and expense of raising organic chickens for organic broth if you fuck it all up with non-organic water? Sure, you boil it. That, perhaps, may get rid of some impurities. But what kind of conditions has that broth water endured P.C. (pre-chicken)? Has that water ever been confined unwillingly? Has it spent any time at all in a toilet bowl? Sure, it may have been sanitized by the city, but was it a “certified organic” chemical treatment plant? And, more importantly, were the chemicals harsh in their treatment of the water?
Not to mention what happens once the broth has been stripped of its organic, free-range packaging. Have we considered the psychological abuse waged on the broth by the certified organic chicken broth buyer, who, despite his/her liberal stance on farming, glares viciously at the pot’s contents, cursing it up and down for its lethargic boiling properties? This is degrading to the self-esteem of all broth water, organic or not.
I find it laughable in the face of this debate that no one has stood up for the welfare of our most valuable natural resource. So, grow up, Heather. I trust next time you’ll leave the chickens alone.
Name withheld (okay, it's Tammy)
P.S. I heart H2O.