The chicken industry has had a rough year, its wings clipped by pricey feed, reduced demand, and financial trouble. Even after a recent rally, Pilgrim’s Pride — which slaughters and packs 24 percent of U.S. chicken — has seen its share price plunge nearly 90 percent.
As if the industry didn’t have enough to squawk about, enter Oprah Winfrey, whose show today at 4 p.m. EDT peers into the dark heart of industrial poultry production, reportedly contrasting it with the organic, free-range system at Natural Acres Farm in Pennsylvania.
This is potentially massive news for the sustainable-food movement. The talk-show queen’s opinions move mountains; people have been wondering for years when she would train serious attention on the food system. Today’s show reportedly focuses on animal welfare, discussing California’s Prop. 2, which would improve some of the more egregious conditions faced by factory-raised chickens. (Look for a Grist piece on Prop. 2 soon.)
I applaud Oprah for taking on this topic — and hope in later shows she also exposes the rotten labor conditions in factory slaughterhouses and reveals the mind-bending environmental disaster of factory chicken farming. Couldn’t happen to a nicer industry.