These are the actual people behind the chicken you eat. You won't forget them.
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Gates Foundation

A live chicken doesn't just magically turn into a plate of buffalo wings to make you happy during a ball game.

That'd be somethin' though.


Deliciousness brought to you by Spine on Flickr.

It actually takes a lot of work before it even hits the fryer: hanging, cutting, trimming. Repeat.

And that's just for wings. We're eating so much chicken in 2015 that it's now the most popular meat in America. The industry is boomin'.

And maybe one of the reasons why — besides chicken being delicious — is that consumers are feeling better about it.

Over the past few years, we've demanded better treatment of chickens and are satisfied with words like "certified humane" and "free range."

All GIFs via Oxfam America/YouTube.

As the lives of chickens are beginning to improve, we're forgetting one key part of the industry:

The 250,000 workers who process poultry every day.

They're getting majorly left behind, and the companies they work for hope you won't notice.

A new comprehensive report by Oxfam America called "Lives on the Line" gives us a much-needed wake-up call on the human cost of the chicken we eat.

Chicken processing is at its highest demand ever — line speeds are twice as fast as in 1979. It's forcing workers to dangerous lengths just to keep up.

Workers are known to process 30 chickens a minute, repeating the same motions 20,000 times a day.

But maybe they're getting paid something nice? Nah.

Production is through the roof, but the value of workers' wages has declined 40% since the 1980s.

It's even said that for every $1 spent on McDonald's McNuggets, only about two cents goes to processing workers.

All that work for 2% of the sale price.

Well, why aren't the workers speaking out if it's that bad?

Some are, but there's a lot on the line here. Minorities, immigrants, refugees, and even prisoners often make up the workforce at these major companies, and they're often too afraid to speak up in fear of losing their jobs.

But when these real-life scenarios include common injuries and inhumane working conditions, we have to do something:

“I was working next to a lady who was eight months pregnant. She needed to go to the bathroom and asked for permission. An hour passed, then two. She asked again. The supervisor said, 'Sorry, lady, but no one can cover for you. Hold it a while more.' Finally the woman wet her pants and began to cry." — Bacilio Castro, former poultry worker

In what world is that OK?

The main companies we buy chicken from are so big that if they make changes, other companies would be silly not to.

It's not too much to ask, either. A safe work environment and fair compensation should be the standard across the board for every company out there.

We've seen improvement in how chickens are raised. Imagine the human lives we could change if consumers shined their lights on poultry workers!

Companies listen when they have to. Let's make them listen again.

(It'll make you fall even more in love with those buffalo wings.)

See more from Oxfam's Lives on the Line, plus easy ways you can help demand better for these workers:

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Nomination ends November 22, 2020

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