Articles / How Chickens Became Like Smartphones

How Chickens Became Like Smartphones

Published January 31, 2020

If you eat chicken, or are at all curious about the utter insanity that is the modern American (and global) food system, you need to read this article. It’s an incredibly thoughtful and well-researched account of how a mind-boggling 90% of the 23 billion chickens (also mind-boggling) eaten every year come from only one of two breeds. In it, Michael Scaturro tells the fascinating story of how the hell this happened, and what it might mean for the future of food. Here’s the setup (just a taste); the rest is below.

In February 1948, 40 farmers from around the U.S. put 720 chicken eggs on planes and trains and sent them to a small town near Washington, D.C., to be part of a contest.

Once the eggs arrived in Easton, Maryland, workers unpacked them and labeled each tray by number to disguise the eggs’ breeder. When the birds hatched, their wings were tagged with a metal number. Four weeks later, the now-adult chickens were carefully examined for size, color, and weight.