Remember Carole Morison from the documentary Food, Inc.? Back then she was a contract grower, which means that she raised chickens on her land but the chickens and their feed were owned by Perdue Farms, the third largest chicken processor in the U.S. That’s right: She didn’t even own the chickens, except for the dead ones.
Carole opened our eyes to the way that nearly 8.7 billion chickens are raised in this country. Tens of thousands of them are crammed into confinement and fed a steady stream of antibiotics to keep them alive. They’re bred to grow extra fast, which makes it hard for their bones and organs to keep up. The corpses build up quickly along with the manure inside the chicken houses, and growers like Carole are left to deal with both.
On average, contract growers invest about $220,000 for each poultry house, which pulls in about $8,900/year, if all goes according to plan.
Perdue terminated Carole’s contract shortly before Food, Inc. was released. After a few years of working off the farm, Carole’s raising chickens again, this time on her terms. She and her husband now raise Rhode Island Reds on their pastures (and in those old poultry houses) and sell the eggs locally. They’re no longer contract growing, they’re farming: They decide what’s best for them, their animals, and their land.
Food, Inc. director Robert Kenner spent some time with Carole and produced this short video about her new life, and she’s also featured in the September 2012 issue of O magazine.
You can read more about Carole Morison’s new life on her blog, Food for Thought, and on her Facebook page. Carole received technical assistance from, and is now certified by, the nonprofit organization Animal Welfare Approved.