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Did the chicken you’re eating live a happy life?

April 4, 2019  - By
Portlandia Prediction: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein have a few questions about their chicken dinner. (Screenshot: IFC)

Portlandia Prediction: Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein have a few questions about their chicken dinner. (Screenshot: IFC)

In 2011, the first-ever episode of a TV comedy called “Portlandia” debuted. In one sketch, concerned diners played by series stars Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein question their waitress about the origins of their chicken dinner.

The waitress shows the couple the chicken’s papers and photo — Colin the Chicken lived a free-range life on a four-acre woodland farm only 30 miles away, dining on sheep’s milk, soy and hazelnuts, in the company of his chicken friends. Unconvinced even by these details, the couple decides to drive to the farm to see it for themselves.

Enter GoGo Chicken

In a case of comedy becoming reality, Chinese insurance company ZhongAn Online has outfitted more than a 100,000 chickens with GPS trackers. People who buy a chicken with a tracker strapped to its leg will know every step that that chicken has taken. Using a smartphone app called GoGo Chicken, customers can monitor the animal’s diet, exercise and environment.

The company says its technology will be on 2,500 farms in China by next year. It is also working on facial-recognition technology so that consumers can make sure the organic chicken they saw on the farm is the same one that ends up on their plate.

While this all sounds a bit much for many of us who grew up on Chicken McNuggets, there is a practical side. The company hopes GPS tracking will help prevent food safety problems, such as a 2014 crisis in China in which a supplier was caught selling rotting and expired meats to fast-food chains. In the event an issue does arise, the data tracked by the devices could help find the source of the problem.

About the Author: Tracy Cozzens

Senior Editor Tracy Cozzens joined GPS World magazine in 2006. She also is editor of GPS World’s newsletters and the sister website Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.