Chickens and the Truth.
Well it’s certainly safe to say Chick-Fil-A is in the news! And what has erupted for the most part has not been a very helpful conversation. Certainly it’s a sign of our current cultural context and sadly probably only a taste of the future, unless we can somehow become more civil in our engagement to disagree.
This blog article is not about gay marriage or Dan Cathy’s view on the matter. The blog is about a large Christian / religious support of Chick-Fil-A. More specially addressing a somewhat unspoken thought that Chick-Fil-A is operating fully out of Christian morals and ethics, and should be triumphed as a Truth communicator to our fallen world.
A few disclaimers:
First, when living in Atlanta I was around the Chick-Fil-A organization and did work for them first hand. There is much to be credited about the business!
Second, None of this is meant to be anything but civil, respectful engagement. If you’d like to disagree with me please feel free, email me or post on the blog. But keep it respectful. I’m not slandering Chick-Fil-A or Dan Cathy. And it’s important you read this article in its entirety to understand my full argument.
Third, for me none of these ideas can be separated from my religious perspective. If you read this article and don’t share that perspective I invite you to dialogue, but respectful dialogue that will propel forward the cause of good food and ethical business.
Fourth, this is not a essay. I’m being brief with the arguments on purpose.
An examination of our food:
I believe religious people, and particularly Christians need to exam their support of fast food. And more specifically this mixing of the Christian faith with what the “cows are saying”. There I said it, I felt like I needed to get that off my chest! I say particularly Christians because I can speak from this tradition the best as I am a Christian. I didn’t used to always share these foodish convictions. It has been a journey for me and my family over the past years to reach some convictions about food. With that said:
Chick-Fil-A is known around the south as the “Gospel Bird”.
In part because they are often called a “Christian company”, and the fact the Cathy family (along with upper level management) have been very public with their Christian values. Recently in the news the national “support Chick-Fil-A day” has been championed by conservative Christians and I’ve even heard remarks like “Chick-Fil-A is saying what the Church refuses too”. On the one hand I want to be ‘for’ Dan Cathy! Being a Christian I see much in fighting that is often a bad witness to the world. Yet I have some questions for Chick-Fil-A regarding these Christian ethics and the food they serve. I don’t mean quality in terms of how it tastes. Here are a few examples.
First, all of Chick-Fil-A chicken is sourced from industry farms
(if I’m wrong please say so). More so it’s all the Cornish Cross . Each time you are taking a bite into that chicken sandwich you are taking a bite into a completely un-sustainable poultry system, in which the birds are genetically engineered to grow at fast speeds, and live unhealthy, unhappy lives. More so the lives of many are taken advantage of by this system. Factory workers and farmers to name a few are often exploited with little pay, and terrible working conditions.
Now I must ask you is that the purpose of God’s good creation? To have created a fast growth chicken for the purpose of human consumption?
I’m not calling for a worship of creation in putting the bird above the human. Yet I am calling for a responsible stewardship in what we eat. Eating poorly sourced meat should not be the norm. How does a belief in God as creator and redeemer play into these choices for you? And more so, should a food company run on the basis of Christian ethics not heavily consider their food sourcing? It’s not a myth that the industrial poultry system is an injustice to the bird and person.
Whenever you have cheap food SOMEONE or SOMETHING is always being taken advantage of.
Secondly it’s not healthy, and you know this.
From my reading of Scripture one of the purposes of God providing food for his people was the nourishment of the body. To name a few ingredients of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich: sugar, soybean oil, dimethylpolysilozane, high fructose corn syrup, soy lecithin, polysorbate 80, yellow 5, blue 1. What is one of the top ingredients on the list? Monosodium Glutamate or MSG! I don’t want to overplay this point but there are known connections between these ingredients and major health disorders. MSG alone has been linked to cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes among a list of many of conditions. The larger question here is do I want to put this food into the bodies of my family members believing food is one of the sources of life God has given his people?
The larger question to Chick-Fil-A is why are you putting these harmful ingredients in your food? Let your Christian faith and values shape what you are allowing millions to ingest.
Third, it’s not fresh.
A fast look at the chicken sandwich and you’ll see 100 ingredients, and right around 16 to 18 being different types of preservatives. This is a result of a corporate food system that must produce in large amounts to turn a profit. It’s not local, it’s not seasonal, it’s the same every time all year, and prepackaged. Is this how we were created to eat? Does “give us this day, our daily bread”, and the prophet Isaiah’s constant words on food equal this?
Food and the dinner table should carry with it an aesthetic of the season and also an aesthetic of beauty. I do not see how a pre-packaged number 1, 2, or 3 can ever do this.
So what's the point?
Am I saying Christian's should not eat fast food? No, I do not believe it's that straight forward. However I am saying Christians need to in some cases re-think their thought on food, food sourcing, and justice in this area of life. For our family what we eat is a issue of faithfulness... It may not be for you, and that's OK, but I do believe you owe it to yourself to consider these issues.
In the words of Kuyper,
“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry; ‘Mine!’ “
Take for example, when I hear religious organizations promoting statements such as, “Chick-Fil-A and the cows are standing up for the Truth” and even Billy Graham himself has promoted this support Chick-Fil-A day, I have to wonder how these ethics have not been turned on the details of the products served. Are we operating out of this inconsistent value system? That only certain “christian values” are digestible and others are just overlooked.
Lastly, I stand firm in my belief that the resurrected Jesus is ushering in His COMPLETE Kingdom in which the “mirror is no longer darkened”, and the poor immigrant worker who clocks $4.00 an hour and is forced to make 60 cuts a minute in a factory farm processing plant will receive justice. Along with the chicken farmer who can barely make ends meet because he’s producing millions of pounds of cheap poultry for a corporate model that will only produce more debt for his family. And for all the millions of fast growth, poorly treated chickens with the full incoming Kingdom of God this system of food will certainly STOP! God’s perfect shalom does not resemble this. I am confident that at the feast of the Kingdom, “justice will roll down” beside the grace that pardons you to the table, in which the smell of the supper of the Lamb will be so inviting that we may taste what has been made complete!