the smell of my desperation has become a stench

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]…


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.

  • RzDrms

    2006/12/07 at 5:46 pm

    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!!!

  • Christina Shaver

    2006/12/07 at 5:47 pm

    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.

  • Gooooder

    2006/12/07 at 6:12 pm

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


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

  • dykewife

    2006/12/07 at 6:15 pm

    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!)

  • Jane

    2006/12/07 at 5:57 pm

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

  • TigerLambGirl

    2006/12/07 at 5:59 pm

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

  • Suebob Davis

    2006/12/07 at 5:42 pm

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

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

  • Nannergrrl

    2006/12/07 at 5:37 pm

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

  • Shelley Bonnechance

    2006/12/07 at 5:36 pm

    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.

  • ChickNurse

    2006/12/07 at 5:35 pm

    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.

  • Lisa

    2006/12/07 at 5:29 pm

    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….

  • Stephanie B

    2006/12/07 at 5:32 pm

    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.

  • TigerLambGirl

    2006/12/07 at 5:35 pm

    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?

  • Di

    2006/12/07 at 5:08 pm

    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!

  • goddesschristine

    2006/12/07 at 4:53 pm

    wow. just, wow.

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

  • Leslie

    2006/12/07 at 4:55 pm

    People. Scare. Me.

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

  • mayberry_blonde

    2006/12/07 at 4:48 pm

    ‘Tis the season!

  • Jutenhoop

    2006/12/07 at 4:53 pm

    I’ve been reading for a long time, but have never been compelled to get an account to be able to comment. Thank you for all the laughs you’ve given me, and especially the tears I’ve shed reading.

    Heather, you rock.

    Here’s to the idiots that are responsible for brilliant posts like this.

  • Gretchie

    2006/12/07 at 4:48 pm

    Um, doesn’t “free range” still mean they may still confined to cages, only they are bigger cages? I mean, is the chicken’s quality of life better in a somewhat larger cage? Granted, if it’s outfitted with Tivo, that may be acceptable… And while the chicken may not be much tastier, or any more nutritious, by golly, it was a bit more comfortable and well entertained in life.

    On a related note, would it be acceptable to call first class passengers “Free Range Passengers”, simply because their seats are somewhat larger than the coach passengers’?

  • Kelli

    2006/12/07 at 4:35 pm

    I think it’s hilarious that people say they will stop reading your website forever just because they feel you talk about chicken broth in an unsavory manner.

  • samantha

    2006/12/07 at 4:35 pm

    It’s funny, the more you look at the word “chicken”, the more silly it looks. Silly like people who will FIND a reason, any reason, to come down on Heather because they’re jealous.


    We <3 you, Heather. And your organic dog, too. Heh.

  • EOMama

    2006/12/07 at 4:18 pm

    Soylent Green is made of people! IT’S PEOPLE!!!!!

  • SurlyRide

    2006/12/07 at 4:24 pm

    Raise Your Hands!
    Raise Your Voice!
    Give the chickens another choice!
    Join with me!
    Set them free!
    Brothers and sisters,
    Let the chickens beeeeee!

  • Darren Conley

    2006/12/07 at 4:15 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me how someone will complain about shit being dumped on a chicken’s head, but then proceed to drop their pants and shit on a human being’s head (metaphorically speaking) by saying “I hope this e-mail ruins your day”.

    Keep laughing Heather!

  • Valeta

    2006/12/07 at 4:09 pm

    I use the dumb organic free range chicken broth all the time. Mostly because that is the only kind they sell in bulk at my Costco. I thought your jokes were funny. Those people are jerks. I hate dumb people who cannot take a joke. Seriously.

  • Ate-to-the-Bar

    2006/12/07 at 4:04 pm

    Love your site! I’m so psyched you have a food-related entry so now your link on my blog has a direct connection to my content. The fact that my new year’s resolution is vegetarianism will only make this funnier. Keep on rantin’, grrrl!

  • Val

    2006/12/07 at 4:01 pm

    I’m glad that you have readers who are smart enough to notice how moronic and callous the post making fun of people who are aware enough to buy free range anything. Its too bad in this post you just try to make a joke out of it rather than acknowledging that animals who aren’t raised organic, free range live a horrible life and we shouldn’t purchase them to continue to support factory farming. Of course better yet is to go vegan.

  • karin

    2006/12/07 at 3:47 pm

    Not to overload the bandwagon here…I tend to anthropomorphize meat: imagine how you feel when you are stressed and unhappy–clenchy, tense, TOTALLY unappetizing. That is why personally choose to eat animals that were happy in life–there are enough ways to get grumpy in life, I don’t need residual stress in my meat. I do, however, love the image of happy little boxes of broth wandering in the sunshine…why WOULDN”T free-range broth taste better?!

  • Headhurt

    2006/12/07 at 3:57 pm

    I’m not a hater. I love both free-range and not-free-range chickens equally.

    They both taste good in the secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices.

    Don’t forget the gravy.

    (As a side note: is any chicken, caged or not, truly happy considering their heads are going to be lopped off in the most unceremonious way?)

  • Monkey's Mom

    2006/12/07 at 3:41 pm

    Oh SNAP! Who knew joking about free range chicken broth could cause such hate and that supporters of free range would be incapable of seeing the humor.

  • Brittney Gilbert

    2006/12/07 at 3:41 pm

    If these morons had any clue, they’d know that “free range” chickens live jut as miserable a life as those who aren’t. Free range don’t mean shit, except that they are allowed a door to go outside through once a day. Free range chickens are still kept in tights cages, debeaked and starved to force molting.

    Want to make a fucking difference? Don’t write my Dooce, give up all meat, dairy and eggs. Otherwise, shut your self-righteous trap. Free-range and cage-free are only a minute amount less cruel.

    Fucking amateurs.

  • Rusty

    2006/12/07 at 3:41 pm

    Ho…ly…CRAP. These people are psychotic! Obviously they missed the part where you said we might as well not eat chickens, seeing as by eating them, we’re killing them either way, free range or living completely bald in their own feces. This is the stupidest argument I’ve ever heard, and as usual, I side with you on this one. Free range chicken broth is pretty damn funny.

  • me

    2006/12/07 at 3:33 pm

    I will never understand how you can do this for a living without losing your mind, Heather.

    People are so very odd.

  • Christine-y

    2006/12/07 at 3:34 pm

    I am still amazed that people take the time to send you hate mail. Some people seriously need to get a life. It’s just chicken broth, for fuck’s sake.

    I personally thought it was funny. 🙂

  • Leonie

    2006/12/07 at 3:32 pm

    Do these people even know how bad the INTERNET is for the environment! Energy! Save! Now! Shower! Later!

  • Karen

    2006/12/07 at 3:28 pm

    My husband I laughed our asses of over that post. I almost emailed you that day to thank you for the good laugh because I really needed it. Instead I’ll be commenter number 400-something.

  • mslieder

    2006/12/07 at 3:23 pm

    Ya always have to worry when someone starts out with, “People like you…”

    I ate alligator the other day…wonder if it was free-range.

  • Sonja

    2006/12/07 at 3:24 pm

    Oh, everybody just HAS to right. “Look at me! I know more than you do and you are stupid because of it. I refuse to waste another moment of my pretentious time reading your ‘lack of education’.” PULLEAZE! Heather, that was funny as hell. I laughed right along with you and Jon at your mother, and I mean that (mom) with affection!
    To lamblast you for your post on free range chicken broth is just as unskilled and unrefined as it would have been to admonish my 2 year old daughter when she first saw her newborn brother and exclaimed “AHHHHH! A BOY SISTER!!” I mean, we could have informed her that she needed to register for an anatomy and biology class and shunned her from the rest of civilization until she was 14 and some peasant knocked on our door and asked for her dowery. But we didn’t. We found some humor in it. Some people, on the other hand…

  • Kari

    2006/12/07 at 3:05 pm

    You know what’s funny? I’m only a quasi-regular reader (once or twice a week) and even I knew that you were going to provoke the ire of a thousand angry supporters of organic, free range chicken. Knew it as soon as I read the post, as my first thought was “she really doesn’t know how goddamn good organic, free range chicken broth is” before I could stop myself and then I laughed because I realized I missed the bigger point in the post.

  • Pollo

    2006/12/07 at 3:03 pm


  • Jason

    2006/12/07 at 3:04 pm


    Wonderful hate mail edition! I can only hope to one day receive as much hate mail as you do.

  • fraucowtown

    2006/12/07 at 3:04 pm

    Wow. There are a lot of people out there with far too much time on their hands. You are amazing to put up with all the crap emails…

  • slate

    2006/12/07 at 3:01 pm

    You’ve really crossed the line this time chicken-hating-Dooce. It’s personal, since I was raised by chickens in the jungle (wild jungle-chickens). It took a long time to integrate me into society, to make me stop clucking and pecking, but one thing I never forgot – what those chickens did for me. *tear*

    So chicken-lovers of the world, let us unite to take down this Utah chicken-fascist!!!!!!!! (extra ‘slammers’, cause I know how you love em)

  • Warrior Knitter

    2006/12/07 at 2:51 pm


    Actually, I prefer “chickens in choppers”. If you’ve not seen it, it’s hilarious. Go to & turn your speakers on. It’s a flash movie. It’s not dirty. And, yes, it will offend the hate-mailers.

    Love your site, as always!!

  • Ms. Scarlet

    2006/12/07 at 2:56 pm

    I always love your hatemail editions …

    As a farmer myself, I’m with you on the whole organic free range chicken broth thing. We’re eating the chicken shortly anyway, and once it’s dead, it’s not going to remember how much it’s life did or did not suck.

    I also wanted to add that I’ve raised chickens and they are evil, nasty, vile creatures who LIKE to eat their own crap even if they are free range. They also used to peck the crap out of me when I went to feed them, which made the revenge of eating them that much more delicious.

  • HalfwayCrucified

    2006/12/07 at 2:58 pm

    Q: Why did Mozart slaughter all of his free range chickens?

    A: Because they kept going BACH, BACH, BACH, BACH!!!

  • Meranath

    2006/12/07 at 3:00 pm

    Heather –

    I was reading through your comments and was going to add my two cents about how fucking stupid/hilarious that hatemail is. But first, I decided to do a Find to see how many times “fuck” showed up in the comments.

    It crashed my browser.

    I think that’s even funnier.

    Love you guys!!!

  • hillaryfay

    2006/12/07 at 3:04 pm

    I have to admit, I didn’t get it. But the hatemail is fantastic.

    I usually go for the best price and the prettiest box of chicken broth. If it’s a way to support organic farming by using their chicken byproducts, I’d by the organic free range stuff.

  • katie moss

    2006/12/07 at 3:05 pm

    well done. in the end, I think Rich would be proud. by cuasing a stir you have raised the awareness of all your readers and i’m sure inspired a few people to check out the skinny on chicken treatment/chicken broth/and the difference between organic and free-range. thank you for unintentionally educating your readers on this “very important topic.” i have to admit that i didn’t find the original post that funny, but i live in Eugene, OR (hippie central) and assumed i was just to close to issue to find the humor in it. keep up the good work.

  • Pandemonium

    2006/12/07 at 3:05 pm

    As for me, I prefer my chickens bald when I eat them.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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