Chicken Trucks Remind: There Is No Free Lunch
By Ellen Marcus
Special to The Pilot
I followed a truck loaded with chickens around the Pinehurst Traffic Circle on a recent morning. As the bundled landscapers worked in the cold to restore the circle's flower beds, the cooped-up chickens hunkered together against the wind.
It is good to know that even in manicured Pinehurst, you can still get behind a chicken truck. It is a necessary reminder that everything has a cost.
You don't see it at the meat counters with the greenery, fancy labeling and gold seals. For suppertime to be made appetizing, there is first a long, cold ride.
I am not a vegetarian. I grew up on a small farm hunting and fishing. As a child, I learned a healthy respect for nature and our food. Everything that brings food to our mouth has an impact on our Earth, from plowing the fields and killing ground-burrowing animals to chopping off a chicken's head. Saying grace before a meal acknowledges that our many blessings are not free.
When I worked in Dallas at the historic barbecue restaurant Sonny Bryan's, I was sickened by the excess and the waste. Men in businesses suits would come in and gorge on all-you-can-eat barbecue. They would walk out leaving literally half a pig on the table. I counted one night as 10 men ate their way through 16 pigs' worth of ribs.
They got up and left a good 10 pounds of brisket on the table. When I asked them if they wanted to take the leftovers, they declined. According to health code, anything left on the table was to be discarded.
Time and time again, under threat of being fired, I bagged up the leftovers to go to the homeless, to go to my friends or even just to go home with me. I was sick of barbecue but I could not justify or tolerate such waste. I still can't.
The men were so far removed from their food source that they had no shame in their gluttony. We need a reminder. We need the chicken trucks circling the beautified Traffic Circle. We need to be accountable.
We keep trying to elect a man to save us, a president to turn around our deficit. Yet much of our deficit is of our own making. Somewhere since my granny's generation, we have lost our moderation.
We need to teach our children that our resources are limited. The only thing that is infinite is our capacity for indifference.
We have cabinets full of expensive water bottles that we are too lazy to fill. We buy water on the go, drink half, screw the lid back on and throw the rest away.
We let the water run down the drain instead of using a stopper to rinse dishes. We let our cars idle in line to pick up the kids. We do our damnedest to get our money's worth at buffets. We leave the lights on when no one is home.
The most amazing quote I ever read was from a woman who lives in a shanty in India. When asked if she wouldn't like to live in an apartment with a flush toilet, she was literally dumbfounded. Knowing firsthand her continual thirst for clean water, she said it would be a sin to flush clean water down the toilet.
How many gallons of potable water do we flush each day?
There are so many easy fixes that require so little effort that would not interfere with our quality of life but lessen our impact. My Granny Edith, at 97, could write a book on common-sense conservation. A child of the Depression, she knows firsthand the importance of living sustainable.
I am sure someday the chicken trucks will be rerouted on a bypass to spare our sensitive conscious any reminder that life in itself is dirty business. But for now, the chicken truck is testament to my children that there is no such thing as a free lunch.
That grace before supper is the very least we can do.
The only way to replenish what we use is to be conscious of our consumption. We are responsible for ourselves.
Ellen Marcus, a recent candidate for the Moore County Board of Commissioners, lives in Pinehurst.
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