Thursday, January 17, 2013

From Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

"Once upon a time, USDA inspectors had to condemn any bird with fecal contamination. But about 30 years ago, the poultry industry convinced the USDA to reclassify feces so that it could continue to use automatic eviscerators. Once a dangerous contaminant, feces are now clssified as a 'cosmetic blemish.'"

"Every week, millions of chicken leaking yellow pus, stained by green feces, contaminated by harmful bacteria, or marred by lung and heart infections, cancerous tumors, or skin conditions are shipped for sale to consumers."

"Next the chickens go to a massive refrigerated tank of water, where thousands of birds are communally cooled. Tom Devine, from the Government Accountability Project, has said that 'the water in these tanks has aptly been named 'fecal soup' for all the filth and bacteria floating around. By immersing clean, healthy birds in the same tank with dirty ones, you're practically assuring cross-contamination."

p. 130 from the kindle version of the book, Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Monday, January 14, 2013

Remembering My Father

My father was a habitual story teller. It was a day like no other day, he would say, beginning one of his many stories. Immediately my mother would correct him.

It was a perfectly ordinary day. I remember it well.

The air was so electric, my father would continue, ignoring my mother. Even the hairs stood up on my hands.

Hairs don’t stand up on hands, my mother said. Besides, it’s hair, not hairs.

I said hairs. I meant hairs.

Sitting cross-legged on the living room floor in front of the box fan after dinner, I would listen to my father’s tales, and my mother like a hound tracking his every word. They were good stories, made better by my mother’s interruptions. And they were evolving stories that changed with every telling.

Sometimes my father would be joined by his friend, the writer, Peter Taylor. The two would trade tales about their families, the south, ghosts, and famous writers. My father, a competitive man, could hold his own on the first three categories of stories. He even suspected Peter was stealing his tales and using them in his fiction. Secretly my father thought he was the better raconteur of the two.

But when it came to stories about authors, Peter Taylor, held most of the cards. He and his wife, Eleanor Ross Taylor, could talk at length about Randall Jarrell, Robert Lowell, Jean Stafford and many others. But my father did hold one ace. William Faulkner visited our farm before I was born. Did I ever tell you about the time William Faulkner was thrown off our horse? he would begin. Peter nodded. After a while, my father decided to tell a James Dickey story instead. After several tellings, my father went back to talking about William Faulkner. I’ve often wondered how many times William Faulkner fell off our horse.

Photo collage by Robert Carioscia