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December 11, 2013 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Cluck it. (Stupid birds)


Scratch that.

They are flying in the face of the season.

Sticking their beaks in. Plant ooze and all.

Scooge by Robert

Cold hearted facts for Christmas
(Robert Duchette/Commons.wikimedia)

That large Christmas goose purchased by Scrooge.

(Honk if you’ve got spirit?)

A partridge invading pear trees.

(Looking for worms? HA! Pear thieves more likely)

Calling birds.

(Homeroom party moms looking for cookie bakers.)

Swans a-swimming.

(Beauty is as beauty does: rushing over demanding food – or else.)

Turtle doves.

(All that cooing. Creating unrealistic expectations?)

Of course the most innocent of all: hens a-laying.

Chickens: In the songs. In the ovens. On the trees. Perhaps under it, too?

(12 Days of Christmas illustration. Xavier Romero-Frias/

Cheat sheet for non-readers or carolers under the influence.
(12 Days of Christmas.Xavier Romero-Frias/

There’s a whole new breed of fowl owners:

  • The trendy. (Those expensive little chicken mansions are so cute in the yard. Such a conversation piece.)
  • The family oriented. Teaching children about nature, life, and responsibility (Such cute little fluffy chickens. Honey, you’re squeezing too tightly. Oh, my. It’s sleeping. Yes, they are pampered. The chicks are like family. They have names!)
  • The health conscious. (All about organic. Free range. Naturally fed. Those chicken eggs look and taste different.)

Hot chicks in the city are pretty common.

If things go as the USDA has planned, more people may be throwing chicken feed out back.

And eating less at fast food restaurants.

Microwaving fewer instant dinners.

Leaving those chicken wings and breaded patties in the freezer.

Walking past shelves of canned chicken soup.

One of the wonderful “making you safe” federal agencies, the USDA, wants to allow whole chicken carcasses from the U.S. and Canada to be shipped to China to be processed, then returned the chicken meat to the US companies who sell to you and your family in food products. Next step: China sends raw chickens to US consumers.

1918.Little Red Hen. Florence W.Williams/

And who’s going to be responsible for all the work?
1918.Little Red Hen. Florence W.Williams/US


Nightmares brought to you by China:

  • Baby formula containing dangerous Melamine
  • Rat meat sold as lamb.
  • Arsenic found in calamari
  • Rice and pasta infested with maggots
  • Pumpkin seeds mixed with glass chips
  • Melamine traces found in eggs from chicken feed.
  • Tainted pet treats/jerky killed more than 550 dogs and some cats. The treats were recalled after over 3,600 pets became very sick in the US and Canada.(Traces of melamine. Evidence of up to 6 drugs, including antibiotics) F.D.A. investigation 

Chicken producers and processors in the US operate under strict guidelines.

But even so some of the massive chicken farms here have problems:

Inhumane overcrowding causes disease and stress hormone production in the birds.

Chicken are kept in lighted conditions 24 hrs a day.

And they are often routinely feed antibiotics and hormones to keep them alive and growing on schedule.

Some companies are worse than others. You have to beware. Or buy local/organic.

Biggest concerns about Chinese chicken imports?

  • The Chinese regulations for processing are not like those in the US
  • There have been multiple instances where they didn’t follow even their own regulations.
  • Who’s going to be there on site to make sure things are done right?
  • Less than 2% of food imported from China is being currently inspected.
  • Food companies will not label products to show they may include chicken processed in China.
  • Contaminated food may be consumed before the danger/recall happens
1865 Book: Chicken Little.(US author's life+100/

The sky is falling? (1865 Chicken Little/US’s life/

Is this chicken move simply politics?

China lost big numbers of chicken flocks from Avian viruses.

China is a big market. (“Smithfield sale could spur more Chinese investment in food production.” NBC news)

The US would like China to once again import US Beef which was stopped by a Mad Cow outbreak in the U.S.

Is this a multi-national industry pushing to do what is good for their bottom line, but not necessarily in the best interest of this country and for U.S. Consumers?

  •  US Senator Jon Tester believes the new inspection system favors large global meat processors over smaller domestic plants.
  • The recent sale of Smithfield Foods to Shuanghui International, a major Chinese food processor of chickens and hogs, has added to the industry scrutiny: how does this sale impact US jobs and consumer food safety?
  • In July, Tester and others questioned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilasck about allowing foreign countries to use alternative inspection programs for meat (chicken and hog) they import back into the US. Apparently 40% of government inspectors will be replaced by employees of the poultry and meat plants (Read article.)
  • In August, 2013, the Agriculture Department allowed 4 Chinese poultry producers to ship cooked meat to the U.S. (“Chinese chicken processors are cleared to ship to US” NY Times. Aug 30, 2013)
  • Now the multinational companies want to import raw chicken into the US (news video/article)
  • Senator Chuck Schumer blasted the administration Nov.10,2013 saying chicken raised and slaughtered/processed in China poses a serious food safety threat. (CBS New York news)
  • Most importantly, chicken meat/chicken stock is widely used by food producers. Why won’t the US government require all products containing chicken to list where the chicken came from – and where it was processed if China is allowed to export chicken?
 (1878.Fred Barnard.Dicken's Christmas book engraving/US PD:reprod of PD art/ life/

“This pleasantry was received with a general laugh.” (1878.Fred Barnard.Dicken’s Christmas Book/US PD: reprod.PD art/ life/

Dr. Oz is a pretty smart man. He is raising alarm on this food safety issue.

Watch “Buyer Beware: Chicken from China? Part I” (Nov.1o, 2013 show.)

Read: “Dr. Oz Sounds alarm on dangers of processed chickens from China” (Examiner)

Chicken heartedly, I confess I do not watch Dr Oz as I feel the show formula/format is beneath him. BUT he’s right about this.

1916.Chicken Little. Mabel Hill.New Barnes Reader/US

Come closer. It’s safe. I promise. (1916.Chicken Little.Mabel Hill/US

If determined now to raise your own hens, please first maybe shadow a “chicken buddy.”

Chickens aren’t shoes you can toss in the closet when you want to leave town.

They poop. And it smells. And some need aprons. Really. Chicken aprons and bras.

Animal shelters are already crowded. Don’t even think about setting them free in the wild…unless you want to feed predators a tasty meal.

Good sources of advice and information? Cecilia of thekitchengarden blog, Quality Feed and Garden. (Since 1928. Houston grew around it. Also Facebook. Maybe article ) and Wabash Feed Store and Antiques. (Organic solutions. Another island of farmy inside the city.)

Just a little meat with all the seasonal fluff.

Feathers ruffled, time to fly.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge

Inflatable Christmas sleigh yard decoration

Oh, one more. An inflated Chinese product that shouldn’t pose a health hazard.


  1. Spinster / Dec 11 2013 11:20 pm

    Stupid move, USDA. Will post to a couple of social media sites to spread the word. Thanks for giving your readers a heads up.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2013 1:31 am

      Nuts. Quackers. And hardly a peep on the news among the holiday fluffy stories. Thanks for spreading the word


  2. cecilia / Dec 11 2013 11:25 pm

    importing raw chicken from china? we can’t grow it here? I wish you were closer or at the very least had a refrigerated truck, you could come on down and pick your own chicken (literally) out of my fields.. I hate that so many people cannot eat chicken anymore because they can’t find the good stuff at a reasonable price. c


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2013 1:30 am

      Isn’t this insane? We are very lucky to live near big family farms that sell produce straight from the fields, and three farmers’ markets which do offer eggs, free range chickens, and organic meats. My daughter missed the value and freshness where she was.
      A big worry for me is everyone has gotten so used to frozen convenience foods – and drive through foods. Advertisements about healthy eating has many choosing chicken – and kids want those nuggets -how many of those people are aware of the origin of the chicken? One bad batch could make huge numbers of people sick before anyone connected the dots. Could have life long damage. How is a parent going to feel if the “healthy “chicken she fed her kid made them ill? Politics and economics pure and simple for this decision.
      If I was anywhere close – We’d have to visit that place with all the old/odd stuff. So much fun to reuse something. Funny how people just overlook usefulness in objects. Hope you’re warm – haven’t forgotten you and will be over soon to visit. Thanks for chirping up


    • jmlindy422 / Dec 12 2013 3:06 pm

      I may live close enough to pick my own chicken from your field. I live in Naperville, Il. My house sits on what was a large farm only 18 years ago. I like buying local!


      • cecilia / Dec 12 2013 3:53 pm

        excellent, in the spring we will make a plan! Lets start talking around about March. I need to start making a list.. c


  3. robstroud / Dec 12 2013 12:07 am

    Perhaps not a physical health danger… but yo gabba gabba is definitely a threat to young minds…


  4. oddgirlnextdoor / Dec 12 2013 12:08 am

    Thanks for the references. We had a farm in Texas, we raised our food. I think too many people are detached from how their food is processed and taken care of before being processed. I’ve eaten just about everything, skinned and dressed it myself. I think it’s a necessary skill to learn; to teach what it was before the factory wrapped your food in plastic wrap. What it was to feed your family and self from personal food storage rather than the supermarket. What it’s like to have a small taste of how it was, and in some ways, how it should still be.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2013 1:42 am

      Crazy K Farms is also great source of information – and nice people (it’s the link for the chicken aprons and bras).
      As a kid in rural East Texas, we gathered, farmed, and ate what was hunted or fished. You learn a lot about a great deal about life in general doing that….and appreciation. Thanks for nesting down a comment


  5. Jagoda Perich-Anderson, M.A. / Dec 12 2013 2:20 am

    Sending food to be processed in any other country seems crazy to me. As for birds helping to celebrate Christmas–now I’m all for that. I’ll take just one goose a-laying especially if those are gold eggs.


  6. EllaDee / Dec 12 2013 3:18 am

    The words from the Bae Naked Ladies song ‘One Week” started running through my head as I read this post… “Chickity China the Chinese chicken, You have a drumstick and your brain stops tickin” Clearly the USDA’s brain has stopped tickin’ already… it’s so quiet, all I can hear is the hushed sound of dollars amassing.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2013 3:39 pm

      Darn! Should have linked that song in there. Perfect. Politics and multinational profits over food safety…yep, “keeping you safe” Thanks for singing along


  7. Bongo / Dec 12 2013 5:08 am

    My own chickens in the back yard? That sounds yummy!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:23 am

      Yes! They make such nice noises and look so annoyed when they run! Molly is stuck with squirrels right now. Paw waves!


      • Bongo / Dec 13 2013 6:20 am

        Those squirrels are pesky. Paw wave back to Molly!


  8. roughseasinthemed / Dec 12 2013 7:20 am

    This is the sort of story that has me banging my head against the wall. But doesn’t the consumer bring this sort of result on themselves? Always wanting cheap. Not caring about ethics or animal welare. Not caring about where their food comes from or how it is (mis)treated and processed. Goodness, people will be expected to cook using fresh food next – so last century.

    Those ark things were very much the rage when we were still in the UK, we never got one as we couldn’t really envisage the idea of carting half a dozen chicks with us on our travels around France, Spain, Portugal. But in Spain our chicks/cockerels have a nice chicken shed that is part of the corral/trastero complex. And those naughty cockerels make a noise you know. One Scottish woman we knew said she would hate to live next to us, she thought people shouldn’t have noisy cockerels. I mean, we live in the campo. Along with goats and sheep and donkeys and horses and and … If you don’t like the animals go live in the city (although not Marbella or Gibraltar as you can hear cockerels in the older parts of the towns).

    Globalisation has a lot of answer for, one of my pet peeves.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2013 3:32 pm

      And make homemade vegetable soup? Feed their families from their own kitchens? Horrors! If people start questioning where fast food places get their products…oh, lack of interest until one of theirs gets sick – then lawsuits. Proactive caution might be better…but oh, too busy. Trust someone else to do everything…then it’s THEIR fault.
      Globalization is creating a different world/society…different…what will be acceptable with it all?
      I find the “new” chicken people amusing. Really concerned when the animal shelters are pleading with people about chicken dumping those spring purchased chicks when everyone wants to leave town for vacation or the holidays. “Free range” doesn’t mean “born free – run free – somewhere else”
      Globalization and responsibility. Should go together?
      Thanks for feeding the comments
      (Oh, please tell Pippa and Snowy We’ve read the pure bred pup post – WP was clogged or something so the comment didn’t stick, but planning to try again. Muddy paws for all…oh, only here. Where is Mr Sun?)


  9. gingerfightback / Dec 12 2013 8:26 am



  10. Robin / Dec 12 2013 2:07 pm

    Makes me glad I rarely eat meat. Might have to make that never if it’s going to be coming from China. We have a lot of chicken farms here on the Eastern Shore as well as processing plants. I try not to think too much about how the chickens are raised (head in the sand strategy, which I realize is not a good one), but pass by the large chicken houses when out for bikes rides, see the trucks loaded with chickens crowded into small cages, and wonder about inhumane-ness of humanity.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2013 3:37 pm

      Oh, you’ve seen the trucks, too. Grim. In summer, even worse. Does make you queasy when you see a chicken dish. Some mass producers are making changes to be humane and attempting to make their products healthier. Those need to speak up. People want to know….everyone should want to know where those frozen chicken nuggets they are feeding their kids and friends came from. Thanks for chirping along


  11. jmlindy422 / Dec 12 2013 3:07 pm

    Opening my eyes again. Some of my favorite things come from China–my daughter, for instance–but I think I’ll stick to domestic sources for my chicken, thank you.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:22 am

      Oh, we know some real Chinese dolls, too! It’s not chicken to want US chickens. Thanks for cackling along


  12. reneejohnsonwrites / Dec 12 2013 3:08 pm

    My husband farms chickens among other things, and yes he sells to a mass producer. I will say that over the years conditions have changed. There are less per house, lighting is regulated with lots of ‘dark’ hours and softer lighting has replaced harsh watts, and antibiotics are no longer routinely administered. Air quality is strictly managed. Computer technology has taken the place of grower control, and many of the birds qualify as ‘free’ of hormones and antibiotics. They are also experimenting with some ‘free range’ farms and the methods in which farmers must euthanize an ailing or hurt bird is strictly governed. They are taken to the processing plant in cages, but that is a very short ride from the farm and is the only time in which they ever see a cage.

    We all win when the community can feel good about the meat they put on the table. As for sending it abroad to be processed, I can’t imagine how that would be good for anybody. Yikes!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 12 2013 4:57 pm

      I am so glad you responded. Large scale animal production can be responsible as you show. These domestic producers must be encouraged and should be advertising their care and concern. Many people would pay a bit more if necessary to buy their products.
      Sadly about 3 hours from here there is a mass producer tucked down a back road few travel unless you know the shortcuts or have relatives in that direction. Massively loaded 18 wheelers rumble constantly back and forth loaded with chickens jammed in crates – some obviously dead.(they travel long distances) It’s worse in summer when temps get over 100 often. There are lots of huge chicken “barns”- all back from the road. This is not a good place. They have been cited numerous times, but keep rolling. There are cameras and guards – no doubt PETA knows them. I will not buy their products.
      In my experience, foreign owners/corporation often ignore regulations. You can stand there, but once you leave, they just go back to doing as they wish. Quality control is a big problem – especially outside the country. Some once “caught” simply pay the fine and keep going as they know there aren’t enough inspectors and they won’t have to worry about another inspection for a long time.
      China had a big die off of chickens and recently hogs. Their massive processing plants need work. They have a lot of people to feed. US beef producers want to export beef to China – the price is letting them into the chicken/hog processing/production/export chain here.
      There will be impact on domestic jobs of domestic producers. There is the big question about food safety.(They will not use US inspectors -large number of US inspectors will be laid off- in their plants here – instead use their own employee inspectors)
      We need to encourage the responsible US food producers to speak up now. Consumers need to express their concerns.
      Thanks for peeping up so well!


  13. PiedType / Dec 12 2013 3:32 pm

    Horrid idea. I don’t want China anywhere in my food chain. Or in my pets’ food chain. There have been far too many bad things found in Chinese imports.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:21 am

      This is a real danger – especially since so many mothers will not be aware of what they are feeding their kids before it’s done damage. Who ever thought this was a good idea? Oh, politicians. (Scowl…time to hit the phones and emails again) Thanks for adding a feather to the comment bunch


  14. Ally Bean / Dec 12 2013 4:19 pm

    Not eating is beginning to sound better and better. Seems like if I did that I wouldn’t need to be worrying about where what I wasn’t eating came from. [An impractical solution, but there is a logic there.] Meh.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:15 am

      But then they’d be nagging us about our poor body image! It’s always something. Thanks for the fowl remark!


  15. shoreacres / Dec 12 2013 4:39 pm

    I would no more knowingly eat food from China than I would fly to the moon. Remember when they discovered arsenic in the name-brand toothpaste coming here from China to the Dollar Stores and such? And the great drywall scandal? And so on and so forth. While they tell us not to drive our cars, the air in some cities in China is so bad you can’t even go out without a mask or respirator. Honestly.

    I did just learn something else about so-called organic and free-range products that show up in the stores. The regulations are written in such a way that, if access to the outdoors is available, chickens can be labeled free range. It has nothing to do with actual chickens actually roaming around in the great outdoors.

    In the same way, Crisco still can be labeled “transfat free”, even though it’s the “per serving” caveat that gets them past the regulators. Now, I me some Crisco and will hoard the stuff for pie crust if the regulators decided we can’t have that, either.

    Another point is that business about source labeling not being required in things such as chicken broth and microwave dinners. Somebody go find Mayor Bloomberg and get him on their case. He might actually do some good, here.

    By the way – Bay Area Meat Market’s chickens are “local”, in the sense that they come from up around Yoakum. No antibiotics, no additives. No GMO feeds. I stopped by and asked just about a month or so ago.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:12 am

      This is a horrendous mess with very bad potential. Some friends of ours raised certified organic beef in WY – getting certified is a difficult process. Then fairly recently the feds rewrote the wording for “organic”,”natural” and several other healthy sounding phrases – so consumers aren’t always getting what they think they are buying. And you are right about chicken broth being in so much – very scary situation. We are so lucky to have alternatives here.Thanks for flying in to chat (have you seen all the mallards around the marina? Winter must be here)


  16. jmmcdowell / Dec 12 2013 11:42 pm

    I already won’t buy any more Smithfield products. And now it looks like I’ll have to find a reliable source of local chicken that won’t break the bank. This really is not a good move on the USDA’s part.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 2:04 am

      When I was little, I remember Smithfield hams wrapped in white hanging in the grocery stores in Williamsburg (long before the amusement park arrived there). It seemed so “colonial” as we didn’t have that in Texas where we came from.
      People used to like the U.S. because we had safe water and food. All that is about to be tossed to the winds if this goes through. Very scary. Thanks for following the fowl


  17. aFrankAngle / Dec 13 2013 1:44 pm

    Outsourcing food safety …. we’re in trouble.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 5:04 pm

      The ghosts of the past may reappear. Safe water and safe food chain used to be benefits of living here. Trading off for what? Thanks for flying along


      • aFrankAngle / Dec 13 2013 5:08 pm

        For what? …. lower costs, higher profits.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 13 2013 5:32 pm

          A sad commentary. Multinational interests over consumers health and domestic jobs. Sigh. Hope the Christmas has some sparkle to cheer us all!


          • aFrankAngle / Dec 13 2013 6:11 pm

            🙂 … absolutely … special individual gifts coming here in about 8 days!


  18. aFrankAngle / Dec 13 2013 1:45 pm

    PS … great image of George C Scott, who has the best Scrooge!


  19. pnwauthor / Dec 13 2013 11:23 pm

    So glad I’m vegetarian. Soon the feds will have chickens inspecting chickens.


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2013 3:53 pm

      Just wash those veggies well! Maybe chicken hawks will be hired as inspectors? Thanks for farming up a comment


      • pnwauthor / Dec 14 2013 6:23 pm

        I buy local vegetables for the most part. When people shop at the big box stores they are in danger of buying toxic food that comes from a twisted food chain.


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 14 2013 9:26 pm

          Always best to buy local when you can. We are lucky here, too. Otherwise, it’s buyer beware


          • pnwauthor / Dec 15 2013 12:05 am

            I know, unfortunately it is.


  20. The Hook / Dec 15 2013 8:33 pm

    “Who Watches the Watchmen”,right?


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 15 2013 9:04 pm

      Someone’s chicken. (Now China is refusing to import clams from US/Canada NW saying they have arsenic….the chicken soup thickens) Keep flying, Hook


  21. jannatwrites / Dec 16 2013 6:40 am

    This is frightening! The idea our food could be routed through China without our knowledge scares me. I would not be one to raise chickens, either. (Once I meet it, I can’t eat it.) I’d end up with a flock of avian pets 🙂


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Dec 16 2013 3:22 pm

      Don’t name them. Don’t even look at them when you feed them. Chicks would end up being bug control…and hawk meals here, too. It is a serious situation and there’s little about it on the news. This weekend China declared calms from Pacific NW of Canada and US are banned. (They say traces of arsenic – the US said, prove that, let’s see the evidence….) That’s a lot of jobs in the NW. And beef producers want that Chinese export market. Politics and economics – not always in the consumers’ best interest. Public needs to speak up before it’s too late. Thanks for feathering the comment nest



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