Oct 20, 2008

Calculating the value of a chicken

How much, quantifyingly, is the worth of a chicken's life?

I asked myself this question just moments ago as I put together my elephant-sized grilled stuffed burrito this afternoon for lunch. Two days ago, Livia and I were picking up our produce odds-and-ends at the store, and we noticed that they had whole rotisserie chickens for just $5. This was not a promotional price or one of those "buy one get one" deals. The chicken was valued at just $5, for our consuming pleasure.

We had some chicken with our pasta dinner last night, and this afternoon I came across the chicken again as I had the makings for a ginormous bean and cheese, chipotle and spinach burrito. I thought about how nicely the chicken would go with my burrito content, and so I heated up the frying pan, and lightly sauteed small strips of white meat in olive oil.

Then I got to thinking about how little $5 is in the scheme of things. We start with $5, but then we subtract the price of the farm's overhead--including cost of facilities, feed, maintaining stable conditions for the livestock, farmer's salary... Then add the cost for shipping the chicken--you have trucks, fuel, drivers' salaries. Not the grocery store also needs to figure out a profit in that equation. They pay for packaging, rotisserie machine, minimum wage worker for roast the chicken, cashier to ring me up, plastic bag so that I can carry the packaged-goods home... All in all, $5 is not a lot o pay for the chicken. When it comes down to it, the life of the chicken is probably valued at something like $0.47. That is an interesting price tag to put on one of God's creations, and a microcosmic organism in itself.

But it does make a pretty good Grilled-stuffed burrito!

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