Recently, Empire chicken has been advertising in the Anglo Jewish press its new, supposedly fool proof (and presumably scandal proof, too) chicken packages. In order to protect us from another scandal along the lines of the Monsey Chicken Scandal, Empire proposes to only sell chicken in sealed bags. Each bag will also feature a hologram that insures that the chicken within is indeed kosher.
While we hail pretty much any solution to the threat of ongoing scandal, we believe that this one will come with a large price tag. In addition, it will leave us at the mercy of Empire’s marketing people. After all, there will no longer be any chicken cut to your order, rather it will only be chicken cut to Empire’s order.
Frankly, part of what irks us is the ad campaign Empire is using. The ads trumpet the idea that the ONLY way you can be sure of getting kosher chicken (let’s play to people’s worst fears here!) is buy Empire in the pre-sealed bag. That bothers us because it forces us to admit that we do not trust our local butcher. The entire halachic system turns on trust, and perhaps the time has sadly come to a point where we should have no trust at all. If that is so, then Empire’s ads make sense. We know our butcher. We trust our butcher. Could he pull a Monsey on us? Sure. Would he? We pray that he would not, and clearly Empire takes away that fear.
Yet, we are left feeling uneasy about the whole thing. For those of us who have to buy Rubashkin meat in the supermarket, we already know the sad result of not being able to buy the meat the way we want it. We know the cost per pound, and we know how horribly the meat is cut. What will happen with Empire chickens? Will we get the bird home and find out that the underside is mushy and yucky? Will we be forced to pay even higher prices for kosher chicken?
We all know that there are people who can not afford to buy kosher chicken, so they buy skin, necks, “tushes” and other cast off parts. What will happen to those people? Will Empire market a poor person’s bag? And who would buy such a thing?
We are not happy about this solution to the problem. We feel that it will create more problems than it will solve. Most of all, we fear that what we may gain in peace of mind, we will lose in choice, cost and convenience.