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View from the North 40: Winner, winner, Chicken Dinner Road


Caldwell, Idaho, Mayor Garret Nancolas received a written request Wednesday from a national animal rights organization urging him to rename his county’s Chicken Dinner Road to the kinder, gentler, simpler Chicken Road.


“PETA is asking Mayor Nancolas to change this road’s name to one that celebrates chickens as individuals, not as beings to kill, chop up, and label as ‘dinner,’” said People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman in her letter.

KTVB News 7 reported that the road gained its name after a renowned local cook treated a former Idaho governor to a chicken dinner as a friendly bribe to get him to make sure the rutted rural road in front of home would be properly smoothed and oiled to make it nicer and last longer. The cook, named by a current resident of Chicken Dinner Road as Mrs. Lamb, is said to have put out a road sign to direct the governor to her home.

That road sign read “chicken dinner” and the name stuck.

“Words matter and have the power to change lives, both human and nonhuman,” Reiman said, adding that chickens are “sensitive animals who feel pain and empathy and form strong bonds with one another, and they shouldn’t be considered ‘dinner.’”

Except — and I have no smooth segue to lead into this — wouldn’t it be funny if a headline at the time read “Lamb cooks chicken for pothole roast”? Maybe it’s just me laughing. I’m OK with that, and we can move on to not-funny things.

Reiman went on to describe horrible conditions the birds are raised and fed in, according to PETA’s research.

She also advocated that all humans adopt a vegan diet to reduce heart problems and chances of developing cancer. “That’s something worth squawking about!” she added, to underscoring the seriousness of PETA’s proposal. She really did write that.

Adhering to dietary restrictions beyond those of vegetarians, vegans not only don’t eat meat, they don’t eat any foods produced from animals. That means no eggs, dairy or Jell-O (yes, you read that right), or that fermented mare’s milk the Mongolians love so much.

Reiman said that “chickens are intelligent,” and some modern research backs up that statement, with evidence that chickens can learn quickly, count, do simple math and perform tasks that prove reasoning skills and self-awareness. They are, some researchers said, as advanced as a human toddler.

They can also be hypnotized by gently holding the tip of their beak on the ground and drawing a line in the dirt straight out from the beak.

United Kingdom-based BBC Earth on bbc.com had an extensive article, “Despite what you might think, chickens are not stupid,” Jan. 11, 2017, in which author Colin Barras cited numerous studies that prove different aspects of the intellectual and psychological sophistication of chickens.

None of the studies said anything about that feat of hypnotism, though. That’s just something I did with our chickens when I was a kid because it was interesting and the chickens didn’t seem to mind. Also, in those days neither the chickens nor I knew that the stunt was an affront to the dignity of their chickenhood.

Meanwhile back in Caldwell, the mayor is not going to do anything about the request for a road name change, mostly because it’s a county road and falls under the Canyon County commissioners’ jurisdiction. Someone with the county, though, told KTVB that the commissioners were unlikely to address the request, and certainly many of the people living along the road spoke out against a name change.

Despite the fact that I am a product of my rural roots, which largely run crosswise to PETA’s objectives, I think the folks of Canyon County could, at least, consider giving a nod to these modern times of enlightenment.

How about “Free Range Chicken Dinner Road”? It’s not as thorough as “Ethically Raised and Humanely Butchered for a Guilt-free and Tasty Chicken Dinner Road,” but it rolls off the tongue a little easier. It also adds a hint of irony to an already funny road name.


Compromise is one of the secrets to a long and healthy life at http://www.facebook.com/viewfromthenorth40/.


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