Chickens Make Me Smile

I haven’t been blogging much lately, I know.

I suppose the general monotony of our routine and life has suppressed my creativity. I go to work. I go shopping in the neighborhood. I smile at the locals when they shout “Laowai!” or “Hello.” I blunder my way through short Chinese exchanges. I enjoy my life here, but my daily experiences are becoming more and more normal.

Then yesterday, on my ride home from work, I saw it. A little bit of inspiration. The kind of China experience I adore:


This man had at least 80 chickens attached to various parts of his motorcycle. It really took me back to the time I saw a big, plump pig strapped to a moto in Cambodia. The chickens, for their part, hardly seemed bothered by the situation, including the ones hanging upside down from the handlebars.

That sense of resignation is pervasive in Chinese life. If you’re in an uncomfortable situation, more than likely you can do nothing about it. So, just go with the flow.


Seeing these chickens, probably just minutes or hours away from the butcher’s knife, reminded me of the book I’m currently listening to, (it’s an audiobook), “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.”

The book is all about where our food comes from, and after reading it, you may never look at your food the same way again.

Lately, I’ve been buying all of my food on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. The old gentleman who sells me spinach, bok choy, mushrooms, onions, peppers and carrots either buys the veggies from a local farmer or harvests them himself, I’m unsure. Let’s just say that there is no shiny wax coating on anything. A few days ago, I bought a kilo (2.2lbs) of spinach for 12 cents. How much does it cost you?

We also have a neighborhood chicken butcher, but I don’t go there. I’m becoming more vegetarian every day. Except for this past Sunday, when we went to a restaurant close by and ate half a roasted baby lamb. YUMMY. One of the biggest differences between the developed and developing worlds is the proximity one has to food production. At least here in kind of rural China, you almost always know where your food comes from, whether you saw it pecking around in someone’s yard yesterday or growing in a nearby field.


2 Responses to “Chickens Make Me Smile”

  1. superkimbo Says:

    I recently read “A Cooks Tour” by Anthony Bourdain. He goes out “in search of the perfect meal,” much of which takes place in rural farms where the death of the animal takes place up close. It was enough to put me off meat for a while.

  2. global gal Says:

    I’ve been listening to a few podcasts from Princeton University about Food, Ethics & the Environment and one of the speakers is Eric Schlosser, of Food Nation fame. He says that he still eats meat, even after investigating factory farms and meatpacking plants, but he is very, very careful about it, avoiding fast food and buying grass fed beef, etc.

    After a few chapters of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I am stunned.

    Living in China it is difficult to go organic and ensure no animal was unduly harmed in the making of my meal. There is an emerging market for organic goods, however, and I have seen an organic label on foods in the supermarkets. I eat so much less meat here, though, as compared to the States. I guess because I am trying to live like the locals and one step into a Chinese meat shop is sometimes one step too many!

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