Food is not always something that you put in your mouth and eat!

Craig Watts did the unthinkable in the world of a contract chicken farmer and industrialized chicken production. He allowed cameras inside of his chicken houses and showed the world the deplorable conditions which contract growers are mandated to raise chickens under.

Some will say that Craig is brave, others might say he’s crazy, and surely most contract chicken farmers will say that he should have known it would cause trouble for his self. Having walked in the shoes that Craig is now walking in I would say it’s a little bit of all of the above and more!

With the release of the shocking video, taken by Compassion in World Farming, reaction was swift. For those wanting to do something to stop the methods used in raising our nations chicken they had the option to send a letter to supermarket CEO’s asking them to replace the source of their supermarket brand, in Craig’s case Perdue.

All supermarket brands come from a source. All chicken companies supply one supermarket brand or another. Inside of chicken company processing plants packing under many different labels is all in a day’s work. Do you know who supplies your favorite supermarket brand?

Back to Craig Watts…. Having known Craig for quite some time I’m not at all surprised at what he has done. He has been simmering like a pot of water on a stove for a long time. He’s tried talking to Perdue representatives, he’s shocked them with video before Compassion in World Farming came along, and most often was given a message in some shape or form of keep your mouth shut. It’s nothing new and every contract chicken farmer knows it. In this case the swift reaction for Craig was for Perdue to inform him that he is the subject of an “internal animal welfare” investigation.

Secretly and behind closed doors, fellow farmers will pat Craig on the back. He will be the topic of conversations in the farmer community for a long time. Those in the outside world will use the video and the compatible New York Times Op Ed article by Nicholas Kristof for different purposes. When all of the sensationalism dies down, Craig Watts is still on his farm in North Carolina battling Perdue and hanging on to his farm by a thread.

I’m not saying that the world shouldn’t have been given a view into our food production system. We as individuals need to see where our food comes from and make informed choices. What I am saying is that now that Craig has provided that view, who will be standing with him in his battle?

I’ll have much more to say on this subject in the days and weeks ahead.

Comments on: "Doing the Unthinkable" (10)

  1. Diann Sherwin said:

    Thank you for the good writing. Is there a source for information about places to buy chicken raised the way you do it?

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    • I saw the video a couple days ago, and thought of you, Carole, and so many others who have been trapped in the industrial livestock model with deplorable conditions and mountains of debt. I hope he lands on his feet when all is said and done.

      Diann, we found our local, pasturing farmers through eatwild.com You could also check localharvest.org , http://www.eatwellguide.org There are other websites as well that help connect people with good local farmers. We now buy from one local farmer who has drop-off points all over our metro area and farmers’ market stalls in our area, another consortium of local, pasturing farmers and local artisinal food makers with drop-offs in three or four Midwestern states, a co-op that has weekly pickups, and a herdshare for our dairy. Once you get involved in your local food community, you’ll become aware of resources you didn’t even know existed, through word-of-mouth and other ways like newsletters and such. The Weston A. Price Foundation is a good organization to follow for those interested in local, sustainable, humane, safe, and oh, by the way, really delicious food. I could never go back to the way we used to eat.

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  2. Carole, I am huge fan. Thank you for being the hero you are. And to answer you question, I will be stand by Craig. I am in this for the long haul. As I said in the video, we need to stand shoulder to shoulder and I can tell you I really meant that.

    Thank you for this excellent post.
    Leah

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    • Leah it’s great to hear that you will stand by Craig! In the coming weeks and months ahead he will need all of the support he can get. Unfortunately for Craig, industry is vilifying him and all of the so called experts are stepping up and blaming him for things which they have no clue about! I would imagine that when all is said and done, Perdue will terminate his contract just because they can. The emotional roller coaster he is on right now is enough to drive a sane person crazy

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  3. Diann there are many directories on the web for food sources to name a few:
    Animal Welfare Approved has a listing of certified farms http://animalwelfareapproved.org/product-search/
    The Eat Well Guide http://www.eatwellguide.org/i.php?pd=Home
    Local Harvest http://www.localharvest.org/

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  4. Mari Dobbs said:

    I stand with Craig. Whatever it takes, count me in.

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  5. Wow..Carole this is uplifting. What most folks don’t know is you have picked me up and dusted me off more than once. But just to set the record straight I have already ridden the emotional roller coaster and as you know it is no fun. For some time now I spend my days, weekends, holidays has been dictated by a company who views a farmer as nothing more than an expendable resource. The support that came instantly after the NYT column was done removed an anvil had been on my chest. I would have to go back and look at old photographs to remember a time I felt the peace I feel right now.

    The response by the “experts”…well that will be dealt with…I can’t obsess over what I can’t control and I cannot control how many Phd’s Wal Mart sells off the shelves. Thinking about picking me one up when they roll the price back.

    You are the Ayotollah of Rock and Rolla. I am just skipping down a path you and others blazed. You know them all. Thursday all I could think about was Scott Hamilton. It doesn’t get any more gutwrenching than that.

    A cancelled contract may be manna from heaven. I am not gonna continue without seeing some major positive steps. Not sure if these folks even understand the concept of accountability. Compassion in World Farming did a whale of a job with media outreach. Last time I checked the video was viewed over 820,000 times. That may have somebody in this industry look the word up.

    for the record I still have the surprise inspection birds on the farm and have put in about 7 hours so far today….have not seen the experts come in and show me the way it is done in Fantasyland. I can’t afford the rent there anyway.

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  6. It is about time insider courage prevails over fear + greed. Hats off to a man trying finally to do the right thing. When love overcomes the power of greed, there will be peace/change/balance!

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  7. Everyone who lives on the Delmarva peninsula has driven behind a Perdue tractor trailer and we all know that every chicken in those crates, on their way to the slaughter house, look exactly like the chickens in Craig’s poultry houses. It doesn’t have a thing to do with how Craig managed his houses – it has everything to do with the genetic modification made to these birds by Perdue, Tyson, et al. Craig – its not easy being vilified by this industry but with friends like Carole you’ve got someone watching your back all the way!

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