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]…

[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.

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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