Sunday, May 03, 2009

Live Brown Chicken at Civic Center Farmers Market

Last Sunday I was at the Civic Center Farmers Market in San Francisco and decided to get some shots of this long line of people at the back of a flatbed truck filled with yellow plastic crates. What were they waiting for? Live chicken. Talk about fresh meat at the market!

I've noticed that this truck selling live chicken have been at the market in the last few months, and there's always a line of people, mostly Chinese people looking for a live chicken or two. The chicken seller (what do they call them?) would basically grab a live chicken from the yellow crate and stuff it into a brown paper bag and then into a plastic bag before handing it over to the customer.

I never got close enough to figure out how much the chicken cost (believe me, it smells so bad with all the chicken poop you don't want to get too close to that truck) but the chicken seem to sell out by noon.

Now, some of you might cringe at the idea of buying a live chicken, mostly because that undoubtedly means you have to butcher the chicken when you get home. But I grew up with my parents buying live chicken and then cooking it for us for dinner. My dad did the butchering and my mom did the cooking. I had the unfortunate job of plucking off the feathers after my dad butchers it. (He would plop the dead chicken into a pot of hot boiling water and that makes it easier to pluck off the feathers, but I still remember the awful smell of wet feathers.)

Despite the bad memories of plucking wet chicken feathers, the fresh chicken my mom made for dinner was always really tasteful with a nice texture to the meat. I've never really eaten anything like that again as an adult. So even though I'll probably never buy a live chicken because I could never butcher it, I do see the benefit of eating a fresh chicken -- both for the taste and your health because you know how it was prepared.

OK, so did I turn you into a vegetarian yet? ;-)


Karen said...

I'm totally not opposed at all to the selling of live chickens. But I'm surprised someone in SF hasn't raised a stink about cruelty to animals and the like. I mean I heard ppl get freaked out by the turtles and frogs in Chinatown.

Single Guy Ben said...

Karen, living in the liberal Bay Area, I had that same reaction too. But then what would be the cruelty aspect? At the market, the chicken aren't being butchered there. They're just being sold. And yeah, I guess you could say it's cruel to stuff them in a paper bag, but how else could they carry it home. It wouldn't be cost effective to have them carried home in their individual cages? I'm not trying to defend anyone, but I think this situation is not as outrageous as animal testing in labs.

foodhoe said...

Hmmm, I read somewhere they if you tuck their heads under their wings they go to sleep and can be placed in the bag easily. I just can't imagine carrying a big chicken around like that on the bus. nope I'm still a wilting wimp and prefer to get mine not so fresh :( said...

This vendor (Raymond Young) routinely violates state animal cruelty laws, and local animal advocates have been trying to improve things. We've recently triggered an investigation by Animal Care and Control, he's been cited multiple times, and last Wed. was banned from the market for a week for repeat violations. ACC is requiring that he stop overcrowding the birds and provide them with water - but stuffing them into bags for transport and tossing them on the ground violates other state laws that law enforcement currently refuse to enforce. More information is at

Anonymous said...

So glad LBGTcompassion posted here about the pending investigation. Yes, the way these poor animals are handled is inhumane and illegal. Plastic bags are never ever a suitable form of transport for a living, breathing animal.

There are varying degrees of cruelty perpetrated against all animals on this planet, sadly. To suggest that this type of treatment is acceptable because it's not as bad as animal testing is a spurious rationalization. This is one form of cruelty. Testing is another. In my mind, they both suck.

Those of us who've chosen to be vegetarians often do so because we recognize our contribution to this cycle of cruelty -- and hope to at least minimize our impact. I'm distressed by the increase in home-butchered animals, owing to the dramatic variations in how people treat these intelligent sentient beings.

As an animal welfare volunteer, I've rescued abused fowl of different species and have seen firsthand the tragedy that becomes them. It's heartbreaking.

Anonymous said...

what? who ever put up the last post i hope you one day come to realize that vegetables have feelings too and you stop eatin and die for being such an a$$hole that person is just making a living leave them alone