Chris Johnson: The number one issue with chickens today

July 1, 2012 

I've had a couple of events occur recently that have disrupted my views on food. Both of these events involved large trucks.

The first happened when I passed a truckload of chickens that were either bound for the chicken processing plant or were on an overcrowded tourist excursion for chickens, kind of like humans on a cruise ship. But I'll assume the former.

I always look at these chickens and think, "Yummy!" Then I wonder what's going through their minds. Do they think a rooster hijacked the truck and they've finally gotten free? Do they like the feeling of the wind blowing through their feathers? Do they get nervous when they pass a KFC?

My wife must have noticed my looking at them and pondering such questions as I licked my lips because she blurted out one of the most random appetite-killing comments I've heard in my entire life:

"You know chickens pee through their skin."

I couldn't have been more flabbergasted if she'd said she had an alien's body in the trunk. Although, that would have been much less of a buzz-kill.

This led to a pretty big intellectual argument for the next few miles. "No way!" "Yes way!" "That's not true." "Yes it is." "Nah-uh." "Uh-huh." "Nope." "Yep." It was kind of like a congressional committee hearing except there were no television cameras to grandstand for with phony outrage.

Though I doubted this story even more than that email from the Nigerian dude who wants to send me some cash (which I'll be glad to hold for him if he'll just mail it), I had to verify my position on chicken pee because this could seriously affect my diet if it's true. My four major food groups are fried chicken, barbecue chicken, chicken fingers and wings. If chickens ever go extinct, so will I.

Having recalled eating some very salty fried chicken more than once, I decided that I'd better do some old-fashioned chicken googling. I couldn't find a definitive answer, but I'm now 99.9 percent sure chickens don't pee through their skin. Although, I'd forgive them if they did about the time they got unloaded at the chicken processing plant and realized they were out of cluck.

"Hey, this ain't Cancun!"

But I want to say something to the chickens out there who might indeed pee through their skin when they get to the processing plant: It's nothing to be ashamed of. If somebody were about to ring my neck, there's no telling how many places I'd have pee shooting from.

The second truck-related food issue occurred this morning. I got behind a semi carrying a large metal trailer. On the back, in giant, red, all-capital letters in two different places was the word "INEDIBLE."

I've been worried about the many things packagers have to label with "DO NOT EAT" when I open some boxes, but Americans are growing pretty stupid if we're going to have to start labeling trucks like that. And if we are are going to label such things, maybe the chicken truck should be labeled "EDIBLE & TASTY."

As for that guy in Nigeria who wants to share his money with me, I'm afraid I can't share the necessary details you've requested. However, if you want to send me an edible truck full of chickens, I can give you my address.

Chris Johnson is an independent correspondent. Follow him at

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