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    GPS for chickens and spinach
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2019 Feb 24, 08:16 -0800

    GPS tagging has become cheap enough that it's being used to track poultry and farm produce. The idea here is that you can put a GPS tracker on a chicken's leg, and this will guarantee the farm-produced quality of upmarket organic poultry. Thus you may be able to decide whether your chicken was "happy" before you ate him. People worry about these things... In fact, people have been worrying about such things so long that it was a subject of parody in the pilot episode of "Portlandia" eight years ago (watch the scene). But back then they did not anticipate GPS-chickens. Here's the full story at npr.org

    In many respects, the article strikes me as an exaggeration. Or is it? They talk about tagging farm produce, like spinach, so that it can be tracked back to a specific origin in the event of an E. coli problem, for example. But there are cheaper ways to do this, like barcoding. Are GPS tags that record position every ten seconds or so really necessary? Could GPS tags be cheaper than the hardware for barcoding? It's not as if spinach is going out for a walk in the barnyard to forage for its lunch. And could any of this tracking tech be cheap enough for the spinach market??

    Frank Reed
    PS: Here are two of my backyard neighbors here on Conanicut Island. I'm thinking of teaching them a basic course in celestial navigation so they can compete with the GPS-chickens. I may need to develop a modified sextant for thumbless observers. 


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