“Passover?” you’re probably asking yourself. “Wasn’t that like a month ago?”
Indeed, it was exactly one month and one day ago, and it is thus no accident that I chose to write this post on Shushan Pesach Sheni.* [To those who don’t get this joke immediately: don’t even bother trying to figure it out. Of course, feel free to ask, and if you manage on your own, mad props, but seriously — don’t waste your time.]
The inspiration for this piece comes by way of a Sponsored Ad Suggested Post that appeared in the middle of my Facebook newsfeed in the middle of Passover, and it took me a month to convert that inspiration into actual written material because this isn’t my full-time (or even part-time) job. Without further ado, here’s the ad:
Pretty unremarkable. The advertised product isn’t exactly Kosher for Passover, but then again, it’s also just plain not Kosher, so I suppose the easy point to make is that Facebook, with its vaunted voluntarily-dispensed informational advantage, should do a better job figuring out what ads might actually induce a given user to make a purchase — or even click.
But then again again [not sic], my religion is listed on Facebook as “Orange Catholic Bible” — and hidden deep within my profile, to boot — so it’s probably not fair of me to expect Mark Zuckerberg to have figured that out.
In any event, that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to draw your attention to that ad’s copy:
Bacon, Ranch or Sweet Chili. What more could chicken ask for?
What more could chicken ask for, indeed?
And so, in honor of the Jewish holiday obsessed not just with food, but with the symbolism of food, I would like to invite you to a brief chicken seder. We’ll pick up in the middle:
Rabban Gamy-liel would say: Whoever does not cluck the following three things on Passover, has not fulfilled his obligation: bacon, ranch, and sweet chili.
This ranch dressing which our ancestors ate during the time of the Holy Battery Cage – for what reason did they do so? Because they were labeled “free range” to conjure up idyllic images of ranches and farms, but in actuality rarely saw the outdoors, as it is written: “Chickens living in battery sheds with a door opened for a few hours a day are free range, even if they don’t actually go outside because they are stressed and terrified. Other chickens may ‘range’ on dirt or gravel, without any actual pasture to graze on.” [McDonald’s often claims its eggs are free-range. It’s often not true, and even if it technically is… so what? Free-range is no ranch house.]
The bacon that we eat – for what reason? Because not only did our ancestors never see daylight, they were forced to live five-to-seven chickens at a time inside battery cages like pigs, as it is written in just one undercover-operation (the likes of which are becoming increasingly illegal): “The battery cage system is inherently cruel and it’s one of the cruelest systems we have in animal agriculture… There were [dead] birds that were left in the cages that were decomposing for weeks or months at a time.” [McDonald’s buys a whopping less than one percent of its eggs cage-free.]
This sweet chili that we eat – for what reason? Because just as chili peppers have antimicrobial properties, so did our ancestors survive thanks to a steady diet of antibiotics, as it is written: “An estimated 8.9 billion animals a year are raised in confinement where cramped conditions, a lack of exercise (or fresh air), and high stress environment necessitate the use of antibiotics… More than half of all chicken sampled [in one 2011 study] carried antibiotic-resistant E. coli.” [Onion headline from 2002: “U.S. Children Getting Majority Of Antibiotics From McDonald’s Meat.” According to an arguably more-respectable news organization, “80 percent of all antibiotics sold in the United States are used in animal agriculture, and public health authorities around the world increasingly are warning that antibiotic resistance is reaching alarming levels.”]
Granted, a make-believe seder is a curious vehicle for a post on animal cruelty and poor practice perpetrated by an obviously non-kosher establishment, but McDonald’s is far from the only place complicit in like behavior — and don’t think that just because your meat is labeled “kosher” that the animal it came from was necessarily treated any better than something you might find at McDonald’s.
And if this faux seder gets you to even think for a moment about incorporating faux chicken into your diet, I’ll call it a success. As it turns out, the product is quite delicious — and there’s a discrete chance you won’t have much of an appetite for the real stuff once you take a gander (pun intended) at just one example of how poultry are treated down on the “farm”:
You’re welcome for not posting a video showing some of 200 million baby chickens that are tossed alive into meat grinders each year.