Just as Michael Pollan, Eric Schlosser and other gurus of the locavore movement dismiss a vegetarian/vegan diet and lifestyle as self-righteous, boring and antisocial, so the "chicken project" imparts to students the belief that, in Goldberg's words, a vegetarian diet is "highly unrealistic for us to expect of our students, or our fellow Americans."
The purification ritual inherent in the Chicken Project consists of "empowering" students with the possibility of ridding themselves of filthy factory-farmed meat, in favor of "pure" meat. The students cleanse their minds of what Pollan calls "dreams of innocence" about where food, meaning animal food, comes from, through killing their own chickens, called "processing," followed by a Banquet of the Birds, with perhaps one or two students smiling over their carcasses, knives in hand, in a picture for the local newspaper.
When the time came on October 11, 2010 for students at Concordia High School, in the small agricultural town of Concordia, Kansas, to slaughter their chickens, one student said "No." Whitney Hillman, a 16-year-old junior in Nate Hamilton's Animal Science class, not only refused to slaughter her chicken, Chicklett, but grabbed him out of his cage the day of the killings, tucked him into her purse, and spirited him to safety. Whitney didn't stop there. She wrote an impassioned letter to Hamilton and the high school principal explaining her actions. In her letter she described how the students were told to name their chickens and color them with purple markers for identification, and how resistance to the project grew inside her along with her devotion to Chicklett who, she wrote, "has become a loved one."