My dilemma

What would you have done? As I prepared to finalize the text for my ebook, Twice As Nice, I couldn’t decide whether to include a section I had written about factory farms and chickens. I had several conversations with friends and even nice (or perhaps simply polite!) strangers who I met at a party about whether to include it or not. In the end, I decided to omit this section, on the grounds that foodies already know this, and others might feel put off or resentful, since agricultural practices are not usually the purview of cookbooks. But I promised myself that if I started a blog about food and cooking, that the factory farming essay would be among my first posts, so here it is: Food for Thought—The Chicken in the Factory Farm.

Looking over the essay now, I think my factory farming essay does a fair job of giving readers a general idea of the stakes involved, without getting into gory details. I didn’t want to change it from how it would have appeared in the book, but I feel like I could have pointed out the upside of the factory farming system, which is that it has made chicken, and food of all types, more affordable for everyone. And if you’re an omnivore, eating chicken certainly has a lower environmental impact than eating any kind of red meat. For example, the amount of water used to produce one pound of beef could be used to produce four pounds of chicken. Across the board, the environmental cost of eating chicken is much lower than the cost of eating red meat. Of course, having a vegetarian or vegan diet would have the lowest environmental footprint of all.

As I said in my essay, I still choose to eat meat; I write about that choice in the essay. Ultimately, I feel fortunate to live in a place and time where I can make choices that feel right for me and my family. I can find answers and information about questions I have about the food I eat. I love that there’s a lively conversation happening about the whole range of food culture: not just the best new restaurant in town, the hot new ingredient, or the newest diet fad, but the agriculture and processed food industry, the environment, and the human impact of our food choices.

So, join the debate! Tell me what you would have done:

[1] You should have followed your first impulse, and included the essay in the back of the book, between the Index of Recipes by World Cuisine and Sources.
[2] This topic is too political and depressing. You did the right thing leaving it out of the book, but it was OK to bring it up here in the blog.
[3] This topic is too political and depressing. You did the right thing leaving it out of the book, and I wish you didn’t bring up in the blog either.
[4] Other. Tell me about it!

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