There is no doubting the comedy in this video, “Is it Local?” from IFC’s show Portlandia. However funny it may be, its hyperbole still brings about an essence of truth many of us face today. Where does our food come from? But really, is it local? Regardless of the “trendiness” of farmer’s markets or buying organic, it can be hard to answer this question.
This week, many of us stepped outside of usual practices, and perhaps even comfort zones, to carry meat chickens from the barn to a new coop. Being fortunate enough to carry two chickens, I immediately recognized the differences in their personalities. The first chicken was timid and seemed a little scared to be in a new place. The second chicken was a bit feisty and would probably make an excellent dancer. In class, we discussed the standardization of the food industry. If I had discussed this based solely on seeing an aisle of chicken cutlets in the grocery store, the argument would not have seemed as applicable. But viewing a plethora of chickens, and handling two with noticeably different character traits, makes me question how we could objectify on such a large scale. I know I’m anthropomorphizing, but if I were a chicken, I don’t think I would find that very fair.
The walk from point A to point B was rather lengthy and allowed for a lot of time to think about many things. When I wasn’t panicking to myself, “What happens if I drop the chicken?” I was mostly amazed by how foreign the whole concept was to me. My family eats a lot of chicken. For many people, including some of my extended family, eating chicken means raising and processing it on site. It seems that we, myself included, have gotten away from the roots of our food. Besides buying meat already altered, we change the names: cow becomes “beef,” pig becomes “pork,” chicken becomes “poultry.” If we don’t want to face the origins of our food itself, how do we expect to know where it came from?