Austerity — Force Molting the American Working Class


Austerity — Force Molting the American Working Class

Michael Pollan described how laying hens are force molted — deprived of food and light and water in order to squeeze out some extra eggs before they die.  This practice reminds me of the mantra that politicians spout: Everybody has to make sacrifices (except for the rich and powerful who need more tax cuts and deregulation).  Anyway, capital can always find cheaper hens in the impoverished corners of the world.


“… the American laying hen, who passes her brief span piled together with a half-dozen other hens in a wire cage whose floor a single page of this magazine could carpet. Every natural instinct of this animal is thwarted, leading to a range of behavioral “vices” that can include cannibalizing her cagemates and rubbing her body against the wire mesh until it is featherless and bleeding. Pain? Suffering? Madness? The operative suspension of disbelief depends on more neutral descriptors, like “vices” and “stress.” Whatever you want to call what’s going on in those cages, the 10 percent or so of hens that can’t bear it and simply die is built into the cost of production. And when the output of the others begins to ebb, the hens will be “force-molted” — starved of food and water and light for several days in order to stimulate a final bout of egg laying before their life’s work is done.”

Pollan, Michael. 2002. “An Animal’s Place.” The New York Times Magazine (10 November).


1 comment so far

  1. javier hernandez-miyares on

    Force Molting Workers
    Is The New Way For The Fox
    To Exploit Chickens

    haiku by JHM

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