First, an update on We Island Gumbo N Tings. They got a lot more tings now! And they have a semi-permanent home at Sgt. White’s, at the corner of Ribaut Road and Boundary Street. At 3 pm each Friday, Sgt. White’s shuts down, and at 4 pm We Island starts serving up shrimp gumbo as well as deep-fried shrimp, oysters, whiting, hushpuppies, okra and other side dishes. We Island is there on Saturdays, too. Second, two corrections related to my last column, which was mostly about Sea Eagle Market:
    1. I got Jana Reaves’ name wrong. I keep calling her Jenna. Sorry about that, Jana! And yes, you guys, it is Reaves, not Reeves.
    2. I got Jana Reaves’ chicken wrong. It is Keegan-Filion chicken that she sells, not Wil-Moore Farms chicken. This time, my apologies go to Keegan-Filion.
    Keegan-Filion Farms are the same folks who supply happy chickens to Bateaux, the restaurant at the old custom house in Port Royal.
    Note that it’s “custom house,” not “customs house” – and that a custom house is entirely different from a custom home.
    Details, details.
    Anyway, the Keegan-Filion chickens lead a pretty good life before we eat them. Instead of living a life of horror in a factory farm, they live in Walterboro, in the chicken equivalent of a custom home.     Their big, portable pens get moved around pretty often so they have access to lots of fresh grass and insects.
    The factory-farmed chickens that most of us eat don’t have it so good. Every time I eat a dish with some of that misery chicken it in, my stomach turns.  I think about the chicken-beak removal scene in The Meatrix (
    It’s like the movie The Matrix, but it’s animated and it’s set on a farm. Instead of Neo there’s a pig named Leo, and instead of Morpheus there’s a cow called Moopheus.
    It sounds corny but it’s really quite compelling. Leo chooses the red pill instead of the blue one, the scales fall from his eyes, then he finally sees the cruelty around him for the first time.
From then on you’ll think twice about eating factory-farmed anything.
    When it’s my turn to do the cooking for my animal protein-fixated family, I try to buy chicken whose sacrificed flesh seems worthy of saying grace over. It gives you a cozy, Old-Testament kind of feeling.
    Really, how you can act all nicey-nice and pray over your food when you’re about to stick your fork into a chicken that has endured needless torment for the sake of efficient production and higher profits? That’s not even New Testament. It’s just gross.
    For example, all that chopping off of the baby chicks’ beaks so they won’t peck the heck out of each other while they’re scrunched together getting pumped full of antibiotics. Yummy, or yuck?
    Happy chicken meat is more expensive than the factory-farmed kind, but it doesn’t break the bank, especially if you control the portions. Although sometimes I forget that the notion of portion control is un-American. After all, this is the land of the free and the home of the big. Myself included.
    So this is how it came to pass that I had two types of South Carolina-grown happy chicken in my freezer. I bought a pack of breasts from Sea Eagle (the Keegan-Filian ones), and my mom bought a pack of breasts from a friend of a friend (the Wil-Moore Farms ones). And like identical twins in a Disney movie, they switched places and played a trick on me.
    I wrote that Sea Eagle sells the Wil-Moore Farms brand, even though they didn’t. But now they probably will, because the Wil-Moore Farms people read my article and contacted Sea Eagle, and they are talking about carrying the Wil-Moore line of products. Don’t you love self-fulfilling prophecies?
    Back to Keegan-Filion, which I keep calling Killian.
    The farm is operated by Marc & Annie Filion, who, given people’s tendency to mix up and misspell names, made a good business decision by going with a straightforward domain name like
    They also made a good business decision by being nice to their chickens. These birds, their beaks intact, have heat in the winter and fans to keep them cool in the Walterboro summer. All of their supplemental feed is organic, except the corn and soybean meal, organic versions of which are not available locally, according to the web site.
    Keegan-Filion’s site also claims, “Our chickens are never fed feed containing antibiotics or arsenic.”
    No way, I thought. Arsenic in chicken? It must be an urban legend. Or in this case, a rural legend. But it turns out a big issue in poultry farming these days is poisonous chicken poop.
    There’s a chicken drug, Roxarsone, that has a form of arsenic in it. Some of the arsenic from the Roxarsone stays in the chicken flesh. It ends up in our stomachs when we eat the chicken, but the govmint sez it’s probably not very toxic. That’s the good news.
    The bad news is that most of the arsenic ends up in chicken excrement. The poison poop is used to fertilize fields. Then, when it rains, the runoff contaminates our water.
    A lot of the big boys, like Tyson and Perdue, have weaned their chickens off the Roxarsone, but more than half of the factory farms still use it. This overmedicated chicken is cheap only because we are so blinded by low retail prices that we fail to consider chicken production’s environmental and health costs.
    Here in the Lowcountry we are fortunate to have choices when it comes to eating chicken. Our state bird may be the fighting gamecock, but with farms like Keegan-Fillion and Wil-Moore gaining prominence, our fierce mascot now has a gentler companion: the happy hen.