The Difference Between Chicken In London And Budapest.
It was a long time ago, when a friend from uni was a little boy and was sent to stay with his grandparents in Hungary. This would be in the sixties, when the eastern part of the capital, Budapest, was still semi-rural. Laszlo – Les to his friends who couldn’t pronounce his name – wondered what the brown fluffy birds were that ran about the streets. He was told that they were chickens. Baffled at this, he asked why they didn’t have plastic wrappers.
You can’t blame a kid who, living in a city like London, knows that chickens come from the supermarket, shrink wrapped in plastic? It’s all he knows, it’s all he’s ever seen. He’s never been told any differently, after all, his parents will have assumed he knew where chickens came from. That chickens didn’t just appear on the shelves of a supermarket of their own accord.
The catch here is that nobody thought to tell him, and he never thought to ask. How would he know to ask if plastic wrapped chickens were all he ever knew? If there is a lack of inquisitiveness on one side and a lack of inquisitiveness on the other, the result is ignorance.
Well that changed as he grew up, he became a keen game hunter. Along with this was a proclivity for the better cuts of roadkill. Not quite in the league of Tuls’ elk, but that’s for another time. I wonder if it’s still there in the Norwegian permafrost…
How long does it take for someone to realize that chickens don’t wrap themselves in plastic? This realization will have come from within themselves, so won’t have had the quality of humiliation that attends someone else bringing you new knowledge or insights. Whatever circumstance led them to equate the pink plastic thing on the shelves with the bird in the farmyard, the effect will have been the same.
It will have broadened their mind.
The chicken can be taken as a metaphor for a process whereby people remain innocent of the most obvious things in nature. A process that, given enough time, will leave the next generation of parents and teachers unaware of certain truths. I doubt many grow up to adulthood without knowing the link between the clucking, scratching chicken and the the supermarket shelves. I’m sorry, that should have read the oestrogen fed pullets that are crammed into continually illuminated warehouses and the punnets filled with pink slices of water-engorged meat.
After all, if nobody’s looking, what’s the difference. If nobody thinks to look, what is the difference between an organic chicken that’s had the life of Riley in an open field and one that spent its brief eight week life incarcerated in the avian equivalent of a concentration camp. If the eater isn’t interested in the flavour, or has led a life so de-natured that they don’t expect their food to taste of anything else than than the sauce they put on it, is it any wonder that they choose the cheapest?
It’s not as if they know any different, is it? They’ve grown up in a world where flavours come out of the little sachets that are sold along with the food. They’ve seen it so often that it’s just how life is. Nor have they given it the least thought; why should they? Life is, well, life. Why buy expensive food when they know it’s only going to be the same.
Or worse. It might not taste as they might like it to. It might taste funny, sort of odd and well, chickeny. In our modern world of the upside-down, the natural has become distasteful and the chemicals they strew across it to add a touch of flavour are what they desire. After all, those chemical flavourings are at least consistent, expectable. That is, after all, what people want most in our modern world: consistency.
Homogenization by any other name. The direct result of a world that has commoditized everything and leaves no room for individual expression. Rudolf Steiner’s concept of Threefolding would help matters here, but all too few people have had the strength to resist the temptations of comfort and so came to grief in Charybdis’ whirlpool of the subconscious. Threefolding is, and must be a challenge.
Our problem today is that we live in a world filled with plastic punnets. It’s just so easy to choose the cheapest, isn’t it?
After all, they all taste the same.
Against this powerful force, threefolding doesn’t stand a chance.