The poultry industry is a modern marvel and a portrait of efficiency that’s almost too big to fathom. In the U.S. alone, Big Chicken slaughters 9 billion birds every year. Today, there are nearly three times as many chickens as humans on the planet. Archeologists anticipate that the most prominent fossil marker of the Anthropocene epoch (that is, the age of human intervention) will be the overwhelming number of chicken skeletons littering the earth.
This astronomical scale and success is made possible, in large part, by the industry’s ability to avoid paying its own social and environmental costs. Today, these costs are at least as big as Big Chicken itself.