Exclamation Point, Special Organic Free Range Chicken Broth Edition

Oh dear.

Late last week I was going through my special hatemail folder — it’s called “Hate is all you need” and every time I open it four butterflies explode out of my computer and kiss me on my nose — and realized that I had enough really good ones to put out a fall collection. (You can see the Spring Edition here and the Summer Edition here) There’s a particular gem I got sent a couple weeks ago from someone who lives in Salt Lake City, and after ranting about how my website sucks because it doesn’t give him a boner, he goes on to tell me where he lives, what his car looks like, where it is parked, and then dares me to show up and throw a rock at his windshield. For a brief moment I considered heading out to find his car, only instead of smashing his windows I’d put a little note underneath the windshield wiper with the name of a good therapist and 10 dollars to help with the co-pay. And then sign it, “Hugs and kisses!”

But Friday night I wrote a little something about organic free range chicken broth mistakenly thinking that I was being ridiculous enough about it that people would know I was joking. That I don’t hate chickens. That, in fact, I firmly believe chickens should live as unencumbered as possible, that their lives should be filled with happiness and joy and leisure. And many, many hand jobs.

And, oh, the hatemail that followed. Turns out hatemail about chickens is a lot more colorful than hatemail from Mormons. The Mormons obviously need to try harder.

The idea of organic free range chickens isn’t necessarily funny, 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. And then there is the whole idea (an idea I agree with, mostly) that chickens should be allowed to live more fulfilling lives, lives where they are allowed to roam free and sleep in better cages, at least right up until we cut off their heads and eat their juicy thighs with a little bit of lemon pepper marinade. It’s like, here chicken, be happy! Relax! WE NEED YOU TO TASTE BETTER.

I didn’t mention that Jon and I often buy organic food, and agree that it is usually (although, not always) healthier for you, because the whole point of that post was to poke fun at my mother who was horrified when she realized that she agreed with a very liberal approach to farming. It just doesn’t match up with how her world is set up, one where you’re not supposed to care about the chickens, don’t you know that the chickens were put here by God so that we could eat them? Also? Those chickens totally had it coming because I have prayed about it and the Lord told me they are rotten, dirty whores.

According to the email I got in response to that post, I guess you’re not supposed to joke about chicken broth. Ever. This website is now on the Official Shit List of the Organic Free Range Chicken Broth People. And my, are they a testy bunch.

Let’s start with this one from Jason who I’m guessing would not laugh if I came up behind him and stuck a fork in his butt:

Well, I’ve never been a huge blogger, I read them once in a while, but I was forwarded your blog today by a friend. Things must be really slow in Utah around Thanksgiving, or maybe its the cold.

I’m unsure how Free Range Chicken Broth is funny, or for that matter how it would be funnier than Free Range Chicken?

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

First I find it funny that you have no clue how to make Chicken broth. Then after admitting to this ignorance, go on to comment about how, in your infinite wisdom, you can’t understand how the qualities of a chicken would be transferred to the broth made from that chicken.

It’s like saying I don’t understand how Vitamin C makes it from an orange into orange juice. Boggles the mind.

Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Hmm… that ringing in my ears is the sound of… delicious free range condescension.

Here’s one from from Megan:

Just wanted to let you know that due to your ignorant and uneducated post about free-range chicken I will no longer waste my time reading your blog. In the past I have always enjoyed your wit and regularly stop in to catch up on your life, however your latest post has honestly left me annoyed. Do you even know what free-range means? I am so not a hater normally, but you sound like a moron in your post. Please do yourself (and your family) a favour and research Organic Agriculture and Sustainability. Failing that, consider what it would be like for Chuck to live out his days in a cage, sitting in his own feces and urine, never getting a change to move his body. Does this sould fair to you? And if that doesn’t get your attention, perhaps you might want to consider all the antibiotics and hormones an animal is given when kept in subpar living conditions on a factory farm. Mmmm yummy. Honestly there are many more reasons why one might consider organic free-range products but I’ve already spent enough time writing this post. As a last note, not everyone who believes in saving our environment is a hippy. I in fact am wearing makeup right now!

Chuck isn’t supposed to be living his days out in a cage eating his own feces? Is that what you’re telling me? A LOT OF GOOD THAT DOES ME NOW, MEGS.

This next one is from a reader named Rich:

Free range chicken broth may seem hippie to you, but there are many reasons you should consider buying it over regular broth. Organic food as well as food raised free range [blah blah blah, several long, complicated sentences here about the history of the meat industry, blah blah] and while [blah blah, more long sentences, blah] it can only [blah blah] but [blah]…

[blaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh]

Therefore, organic is better for you, and if [BLLLLLAAAAAAAAAHHHHH] …

I wish you would educate yourself and your readers about this very important issue. Use your power for good.

Thank you, Rich, for that very useful, very lengthy primer on agriculture. Although you might want to take a different approach in the future when you’re trying to convince someone that you are right and they are wrong. First, you should make sure that the person disagrees with you. That usually helps.

Then try to be a little less civilized. Call them names. Spit. Misspell a few words. Go wild and add a punctuation mark where none is called for. USE A SENTENCE FRAGMENT (!!) Because something tells me you haven’t ever done any of these things, and that your inner six year old yearns to be set free.

Here’s one from Ted:

You don’t have any idea what your talking about, and you shouldn’t pass judgement on things in which you are ignorant. It makes you look like an idiot. I am not going to take the low road and hurl some ridiculous insult at you, because I think you would get some twisted sense of joy out of it. Rather, I will simply say, I hope this e-mail ruins your day, and that you would take a long hard look at the words you write. There are many people who believe in the power of organic foods, and most of the ones I know are just as sensitive to marketing hype as you. I happen to know the guy that started this particular chicken broth company, and I can assure you his office doesn’t have a 14th floor.

Next time you decide to laugh about something that really isn’t funny, why don’t you at least do your homework and educate yourself so you don’t sound like a moron.

Normally I think you are funny…but in this case I think you are the one that should think about your conscience before you go to bed tonight. The truly ironic thing is that you are writing about being a better democrat when in actuality, you sound like some some stupid republican who is talking about how we are in Iraq to protect democracy. Good luck with that.

People who believe in the power of organic food? You mean like people who believe in the power of the Holy Spirit? Because if that’s what you mean, I’m sorry, I would never intentionally poke fun at a religion on this website. Maybe.

Speaking of religion, here’s one from Donaleen:

Do you know how non free range chickens are raised? They are kept in cages so small they can’t move around. They are covered in chicken shit because the cages are stacked. And they are often rather bald because of the conditions. The ones that lay eggs are definitely bald. The chickens are given poor food and lots of antibiotics. They are nutritionally bad. And they taste bad.

It DOES matter how your food is produced. The chicken tastes different. The eggs taste different. And I make my own chicken broth from free range chickens. It is fucking amazing. It can heal the sick and raise the dead.

I don’t know about you, but now that I know that the eggs I eat for breakfast every morning might possibly be laid by a bald chicken, a rather bald chicken, waking up is going to be a hundred percent more awesome.

This one is from Lynn:

There is actually a significant nutritional difference in free range fed animals vs. confined, grain-fed and feedlot-fattened animals. In particular the omega 3 content and omega 3 to omega 6 ratio of animals raised close to their natural roots is much better. I don’t eat chicken at all, but if I did I would only eat free range fed chicken.

I included this one not because it was particularly mean, but because I wanted to juxtapose it with a link to this research study that several readers forwarded to me, and it says this:

But organic poultry is actually less nutritious, contains more fat and tastes worse than its mass-produced equivalent, research has shown.

Tests on supermarket chicken breasts showed that organic versions contained lower levels of health-boosting omega 3 fatty acids than other varieties, including non-organic free-range poultry.

As usual, the best part about that link is the comments section where someone says something like, “The welfare of the chickens is paramount. High time we considered the chickens before always putting our interests first.” To someone who already thinks organic free range chickens are a good thing, that sounds totally normal. But, to someone who doesn’t, that sounds like this: THINK OF THE CHICKENS! WE MUST SAVE THE CHICKENS! THE CHIIIIIIIICCCCKKKKKEEENNNNSSSSSSS!

Here’s the only one that included multiple exclamation points, and it did not disappoint. From Julie:

You have finally crossed the line with this one. Why is free range chicken broth so funny? It isn’t!!! Have you seen the pictures of chickens are are raised on those mass farms? They are so sad and helpless and did not ask to live that way. How would YOU like to watch your dog live that way? YOU would never let him live that way, so why is it OK for CHICKENS to live that way? ITS NOT!!! People like you shouldn’t be allowed to own animals. I feel sorry for your dog!!!!

I do too, because when we finally get tired of taking him on walks and decide to eat him, we won’t be boiling him in organic free range chicken broth, that’s for sure.

  • Grace

    Getting the chickens 4-star hotel rooms and feeding them gourmet meals is nice and all, but we’re…gonna…eat them. All this “ethical” debate on chickens that are meant to be EATEN! Dude. Ugh. All this chicken talk is making me want to eat some.

  • Molicious

    This is about 15 different kinds of awesome. I love it when people get all pissed off about the most idiotic crap.

  • RzDrms

    i just realized: waaay more important than the butterflies… which came first? the chicken or her free-range bald eggs? did they cross the road? did they make it to the other side?! answer, dooce, ANSWER!!!

  • Reader

    Although I think your first post was meant to be funny and sarcastic, it does seem like you’re very passively arguing a point now by posting a link to that one small, questioned study. To many people it’s more about the kind of agriculture and livestock industry you want to support rather than bleeding your heart out over chickens. As someone who lives in an area where the groundwater is contaminated by swill from huge factory farms, it’s a bigger, more sensitive issue than just the (apparently ridiculous) concern for the treatment of chickens. The groupthink of “OMG, don’t these stupid hippies realize the chickens are dying ANYWAY?!” might seem logical at first, but doesn’t cover the complexities. I wasn’t outraged or even bothered by your initial post, but now to see so many people misunderstanding and laughing at the issue, and then smacking down organic, natural AND free range practices (which aren’t all the same thing) is totally unexpected.

  • http://notafraidofchange.blogspot.com/ Amy

    If I weren’t terrified of the nasties on the floor in my office I would be rolling right now! You are freaking hilarious.

    I work in the organic food industry, making no money while protecting organic farmers (the small ones with no money, too!), and apparently have a much better sense of humor than many of your readers because I thought your post about the chickens was overwhelmingly hilarious! God I love your blog!

    I also love run on sentences and comma splices!

  • http://www.christinashaver.com Christina Shaver

    I normally don’t comment…are you even reading this far down?? But I just have to post on your hatemails. They are absolutely the BEST. Love it.

  • Queen B

    Hilarious, really, I can’t stop laughing. I think people take everything in life too seriously. Thanks for sharing, Heather. Your blog is just brilliant. Keep up the great writting.

  • Scottysmum

    Oh.My.God.

    So, my co-workers are worried about me as I laugh hysterically, tears rolling down my face – you know Dooce, you have finally done it – made me laugh at one of your posts t’il I cried!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    The best, the best … was that “Egg-laying chickens are DEFINATELY bald”. How? The.Hell! Does someone know that?!?!?!?!?!?

    Ok – so- I’ve been reading your posts for about 1 month now, since the picture scandel brought me here. Clearly – these were from first time readers, yes? I mean .. they should know where you stand about animal wellfare by now, right? You know. They must know about the TORTURE you put your dog through daily? Placing every conceivable object on his head, taking his picture and then flashing his sweet mug on the internet .. gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaasp, the HUMILIATION!

    Anyway, I never laughed so hard as I did this morning .. THANKS for that!

    Oh and, BTW, I THOUGHT there was something funny about my Grecian Formula tasting scrambled eggs this morning, it ALL makes so much more sense now!

    Cheers, and keep up the GREAT work!

  • http://www.jennifernoveck.com Gooooder

    Of all the things people can possibly choose from in the world to get upset about.

    Seriously?

    Thanks for sharing with us how ridiculous people are. I almost forgot.

  • CrazyLady

    I think this calls for a sit in. Free range chicken lovers unite and join the overcrowded chickens in their cages. Or would that be better termed a sh#t in? :)

  • http://allanthinks.com Allan

    So. Let me get this straight.

    Eating free-range chickens and drinking their blood will cause me to go bald?
    ;)

    Great post, Heather. Brava!

  • dykewife

    it’s amazing how angry people will get about things, isn’t it. i, for one, would never have thought that free range chicken broth would have caused such a furor. i don’t call them free range though, i call them “happy chicken” they do taste better imo, but that’s me.. happy pork and happy beef taste better too. :)

    i guess there are many humour impared people out in the world. i guess you should make fun of something safer, like, oh, i don’t know, snow. oh, nevermind, i’m sure there are some snow advocates out there who would get their nose bent out of joint.

    keep on writing, you’re more fun than a barrel full of monkeys (have you smelled monkeys? ewww!)

  • http://daniel.lestarjette.net/ Daniel Lestarjette

    Heather, thanks for sharing these! Who knew the OFRCB people had no sense of humor? !!!!!!! (just because). Oh and, happy holidays to you and your family.

  • 6degrees

    Oh, boy… where to start…

    What makes me laugh the most are the comments regarding poor Chuck (btw I STILL want me a Chuck… just saying, since it IS around Christmas time).

    First, it is my assumption that any chicken that is raised to be slaughtered is probably not really a pet, per se. I’m not saying that due to that fact they should reside in sub-par conditions, but comparing chickens for slaughter and Chuck is like comparing asphalt to baklava… or something equally disparate, but more relevant… dealing with animals… like… oh, you get it, right?

  • Jane

    Some people need to get a life. Keep writing! You are great!

  • Adam Walker Cleaveland

    My wife and I actually did MAKE chicken broth last night, after eating our Organic Free Range Chicken, whom we named Lucy.

    However, apparently we DON’T know how to make chicken broth either. Damn. Check this out…

    http://cleave.blogs.com/pomomusings/2006/12/lucy_oh_lucy.html

  • Lori

    Laughing out loud at these. Thank you for sharing! It is too bad that you get hate mail at all, but it did provide laughter for us and I hope for you also!

  • http://livinlife007.blogspot.com/ TigerLambGirl

    Di,
    I LOVE fois gras. It’s fabulous.
    Whiny do-gooders can suck it.

  • SpootMSU

    Hi there!

    I’ve refrained from commenting many a time on this site, but I really had to put in my two cents on this one. I’m an animal agriculture major, and one of the nutrition classes I help teach raises chickens as a project, so the claim about broiler chickens being “nutritionally bad” (haha is that the technical term?) just got me. I’m also studying growth promotants used in commercial agriculture, so you can imagine I get into these types of conversations on a regular basis. People who claim to be so educated about where their food comes from just make me laugh…you have to laugh, otherwise you’d just start screaming at people, and who needs that stress…if you’re going to research it, go to pubmed or google scholar and get the real facts from an affliated, peer reviewed journal article and not the frikken PETA website. There is a great difference between animal lovers and those who care about animals. I prefer to think of myself as one of those who actually care.

    Okay, off the soapbox….Dooce, keep up the great work!!

  • lellis31

    Does anyone even get the fact that “organic” actually tanslates into “grown in human feces?” E Coli anyone?????? (extra question marks just for you!)

  • http://redstapler23.blogspot.com Suebob Davis

    “…I hope this e-mail ruins your day…”

    Because I am all about the kindness to living beings, yo.

  • http://geezohpetes.blogspot.com Roonie

    The real kicker is the masthead. Since I read your blog via Google Reader, I don’t often see the page in its full glory. When I came to the site to comment, I almost peed my pants laughing.

    What really strikes me about this argument is all the people who can’t see that either way the damn bird grows up, you’re still killing chickens and eating flesh, no matter how they’re raised. If you care so damn much about their lives before they’re killed for your consumption, become a vegetarian (like I did), why don’t you? Pffft!

  • http://misterstinny.blogspot.com Andrea-cat

    Wow. As a strict vegetarian, I laughed at the original post because I saw the (okay, here’s a big word) HUMOR [insert necessary exclamation points!!!!] in the post. Lighten up folks! The patchouli is clouding your senses!

  • Nannergrrl

    Anyone who would perpetuate the use and abuse of Aussie Shepards for dog-on-dog related porn deserves all the hatemail they receive.

  • http://www.myspace.com/txirishlassie ashleigh

    hahaha! Your comments to their comments are always spectacular. At least these people seem to be a little more literate than the usual dissenters. Except for probably the guy who gave you directions to his place.

  • http://accidentalgoddess.blogspot.com shaynapunam

    You are my hero.

    I read the first post about the BROTH and laughed out loud. Who knew it could get better by bringing out the haters.

    The fact that you compare Mormon hate mail, free range chicken broth hate mail, and get in a bonus mention of boiling your dog simply made my Thursday.

    Thank you.

  • Shelley Bonnechance

    America is doomed. We are doooooooooooomed.

    Not because of the war in Iraq, but because we live in a society that is so pampered, so cosseted, that we have people who devote large amounts of their leisure time to writing hate mail about a CHICKEN BROTH post.

    I think it would behoove us all to start reading up on the final days of the ancient Roman Empire so that we’ll kind of know what to expect.

  • http://www.chickadoodle.blogspot.com AJ

    Too funny! Who would have thought that any kind of broth could get people so excited!

  • sarie26

    I’ve been reading your blog for about 6 months now and enjoying it completely, but this is the first time I’ve felt compelled to leave you a comment. And that, Heather, is the power of the free-range chicken.

  • ChickNurse

    This is the funniest thing you have written in a long time, so thanks. I really needed the laugh.

    I am personally a chicken hater. We used to have chickens on our farm. Because the were free range, I have scars on my face. The damn birds would chase you all over the yard. When I was 2 I had one attack me and peck at my face. Thanks to that “chicken freedom” I have scars on my cheeks. So I’m all for caging them.

    I don’t buy anything organic if I can help it. I’m a firm believer in organic food leading to more starvation in the world. Okay, let me explain. An organic grain crop will produce MUCH less grain than non-organic. Therefore less grain production to feed the starving, only because some people are selfish enough to only think of themselves and buy organic because there is a chance it could be better for them. Anyways, that’s my beef about organic food.

    Please keep writing your humorous blog, and the entries about the haters are the best.

  • http://jodifur.blogspot.com/ jsscualaw

    I thought the organic post was hysterical. In fact, it was the first post I ever read by you. (I am so behind the times!) I then read your archives.

    You know what’s even funnier, organic free range vegetable broth. It’s water and salt, what exactly is organic and free range?

  • tracy

    I am laughing so hard I’m crying! People, in general, are hysterical. The people that wrote those letters are actually in hysteria. Even better!

    Thanks for passing those along, you and your comments just made my day…

  • http://www.lisamulvey.com Lisa

    Are you watching CSI by any chance? I never watch this but I have it on and Danny Bonaduce is talking about the evils of chicken manufacturing….it made my laugh because I just read your entry about free range chickens….

  • AmyC

    I’m so excited for the chance to comment here – and I haven’t even read the whole post. I was thrilled to see how long it is – can’t wait to read it all! Yes, I have nothing much to say, but I wanted to say it anyway.

  • http://uppoppedafox.blogspot.com Vikki

    I actually have a six pack of organic free range chicken broth at home. I had no idea it was medicinal and magical. My baby has a weird rash, maybe I can rub it on her back and the rash will miraculously disappear. I’ll let you know.

    It’s a sad day when we can’t even laugh about chickens.

  • Stephanie B

    I have to admit that I didn’t quite understand why you thought free range chicken broth was so funny either. But, hey, some people like Kevin Smith. I didn’t take you for a chicken hater.

  • Granny Barbo

    The link you give is to a newspaper article. It interested me so I searched the topic through Medline (free via the national library of medicine, at http://www.pubmed.gov). What the newspaper article claims is backed up by many scientific studies. Something else . . . when bird flue reaches the United states it will pass from the wild bird population through to the free range chickens and then to the farmers like shit through a (wild) goose.

  • FeelinFroggy

    Wow, you are so f***ing cool, you get hate mail on Organic Chicken Broth. Who else could create a stir on ORGANIC CHICKEN BROTH? I think that next you should put Chuck in a little cage and video tape it, do like a hostage situation until the hippies retreat.

    What I found particularlly ironic is how idiotic the haters sounded while spouting off to you about your dislike of hippies and chicken. Hey haters, before you start flinging shit at people perhaps you should read more of the website so that you are “educated on what you are talking about.” Hello pot, yeah its kettle, um YOUR BLACK.

    Have you ever seen Chicken Run? Rent it RIGHT NOW. We’ve got to save the Chickens.

  • http://livinlife007.blogspot.com/ TigerLambGirl

    I guess you’ve really gone and done it now; pissed off the entire lunatic fringe. I can smell another masthead brewing.

    How about those V-neck t-shirts?
    Any remote chance you guys will look into this since you’re already checking out the kids t-shirts?

  • Reese

    OMG. The biggest thing to remember, is that lots of people are stupid. Seriously. Sometimes, just remembering that is all that keeps me from going absolutely bonkers.
    You can also take comfort from the fact that those crazed e-mailers definitely pick and eat their own boogers.
    Ok, maybe not, but doesn’t that make you feel better?
    : )

  • http://www.annenahm.com anne nahm

    hahahaha! I think you need a banner that says “using my powers for good by caging things in their own feces”

  • http://dibookblogetc.typepad.com/my_weblog/ Di

    I don’t have anywhere near the readership you do, but take my advice from my experience on my blog…don’t mention the FABULOUS fois gras appetizer you had at dinner!

  • chendow

    It’s chicken people…
    Calm down. Relax.
    So what…their bald. I don’t eat the feathers. Who would…I am sure the crap keeps them warm.

  • http://www.transcendentalreality.com/blog/ Tracy

    You know, I hate to contradict Donaleen (ok, really, I don’t care), but I’ve had organic, free-range chicken…smoked. And…well…the little bits of feathers that were left on it? Um…ew. Kinda scarred for life from that one. So, I’m all about the bald chicken. But then…I’m also a republican, so there ya go! :-)

  • http://fluttercrafts.typepad.com goddesschristine

    wow. just, wow.

    Did they all move around freely in their cages at the organic, free range asshole farm?

  • http://www.smallredsneakers.com MichelleM

    Wow. Free Range Chicken Broth is where you really crossed the line? I would have picked at least a dozen previous posts. ;) I was feeling all good about myself for having my Free Range Chicken Broth in my pantry until I read Angie M’s comment and now I just feel badly about the broth. All that boiling. In a pot and everything. A weensey one, too. One in which the broth would have no hope of ranging, free or otherwise. Horrors!

  • http://amusebouche.org Joan Horner

    Priceless. When I was in Culinary School I had a chef who used to preface the chicken lecture with this statement;
    ‘Chickens are filthy and disgusting creatures’.
    I have seen chickens who are Free Range and are allowed to wander and peck at will, many of these chickens were bald from the other chickens pecking at them. Chickens are anxious creatures, pecking is what they do people.
    I”d also like to point out that organic does have a government approved definition. Free Range, on the other hand does not. Free Range does not mean these chickens are sunning themselves on a chaise lounge sipping a worm and bug martini and discussing Proust. It simply means that they are not locked in cages sitting over a battery to produce eggs. They could actually be in a barn with 500 other chickens walking all over each other.
    I could also discuss this lovely study (http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/
    food/chicken-safety-1-07/overview/0107_chick_ov.htm)
    that might give you hives and at least force you to bring your chicken home from the store and immediately remove it from that giant bacteria diaper stores pack it with to absorb the liquid, rinse it well, dry it well and put it in your own storage container, followed by washing the SHIT out of your hands with some good soap.
    Having said all that, I still buy the Organic Free Range chicken broth when I am too busy to make my own. Why. It tastes good. Simple.

  • http://www.moderndogweblog.com Leslie

    People. Scare. Me.

    Somedays it looks like the organic free range chickens are the lucky ones.

  • http://www.dooce.com Jennifer in Ohio

    This just fortifies my argument that stupid narrow-minded people should be stuck on a deserted island so they don’t contaminate the rest of us with their unusally big mouths. They can breed with each other and leave the rest of us alone.

    Anyone with an 8th grade education on up should have been able to tell that your post was tongue-in-cheek. I would disregard the knuckle-dragging mouth breathers who can’t grasp the concept of SARCASM.

  • Molly Chase

    I think I just horked a big bite of bagel through my nose laughing at your hate mail.

    I thought the chicken broth thing was hilarious. I now think it’s even funnier.