On the other hand, some people really really don’t want to know more about how their food is produced.
By William Neuman, writing for the NYT: New Way to Help Chickens Cross to Other Side
Shoppers in the supermarket today can buy chicken free of nearly everything but adjectives. It comes free-range, cage-free, antibiotic-free, raised on vegetarian feed, organic, even air-chilled.
Coming soon: stress-free?
Two premium chicken producers, Bell & Evans in Pennsylvania and Mary’s Chickens in California, are preparing to switch to a system of killing their birds that they consider more humane. The new system uses carbon dioxide gas to gently render the birds unconscious before they are hung by their feet to have their throats slit, sparing them the potential suffering associated with conventional slaughter methods.
This seems like a positive trend. You don’t have to be a vegan or a radical animal rights advocate to think that methods of slaughter that reduce suffering are a good thing. But, as the NYT story points out, the change brings a bit of a marketing dilemma. To label, or not to label?
Generally, companies that do something good want to brag about it. But sometimes even bragging about something genuinely good requires raising a topic people would rather not think about:
“Most of the time, people don’t want to think about how the animal was killed,” said David Pitman, whose family owns Mary’s Chickens.
As far as I can think, that bit of disagreement makes this particular labelling issue unique. There are obviously other cases in which some people want a particular bit of labelling, and others don’t. But most often, those who don’t are pretty passive about it. “Not wanting” labelling (of, e.g., GM foods) typically means “not caring.” But in the chicken-stunning case, some people will really hate the idea of seeing labels — and that means any labels even mentioning the topic. In fact, even people who would, upon seeing the “Humanely Slaughtered”, be more likely to make a purchase, may not want to see those labels. Under those circumstances, what should producers do? If (as some people think) you have a right to know, does that right trump other considerations, including your desire not to?