Chicken talk…

January 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm Leave a comment

Watched the second ‘Hugh’s Chicken Run’ last night, and am enjoying it (if ‘enjoy’ is the right word) and am pleased he is concentrating on the whole spectrum of issues around cheap food, eg people who won’t or think they can’t pay more, and people being disconnected from their food, and isn’t just all harrowing footage of poor little fluffy things… The Hayley woman is a bit odd though. She seems to be determined not to change almost on principle – someone on DS said it’s like she’s got her fingers in her ears and is going ‘lalala, I’m not listening’. I kept screaming at the telly, ‘Well, just eat chicken less often! It’s not a fundamental human right!’

At least she knows, though. I suppose there are going to be people who think it’s fine to treat chickens like that if it means they get to eat them more often, and if she has decided that in full possession of the facts, then that is her choice. It sickens me, but I can’t argue with it. It’s the unintentional ignorance that is the biggest problem, and there are already loads of people posting on the RC forum who’ve joined in the last couple of days and are saying things like, ‘Omg, I had no idea, I’m switching to free range from now on.’

Apparently sales of free range and organic are going through the roof! Hurrah! Let’s hope it’s not just a fad.

I wish the nutritional side of it could be stressed more. Maybe this will be dealt with tonight, or perhaps Jamie Oliver will, as it’s more his area. It’s not just a welfare issue, but the quality of free range or organic chicken is so much better. Intensively reared chickens are much fattier than free range ones, which actually get to exercise, and have a much higher water content. When you pay the extra £2 for a free range bird, you’re not just paying for the chicken to have a good life, although this is important, you’re paying for higher quality food and get more for your money.

It’s easier to get stuck into the old argument: ‘Pay more for happy meat.’ ‘I can’t afford to pay more for happy meat, you patronising middle-class nit, I’m poor and just can’t afford it.’

Eating quality food has such a stigma of being ‘posh’ attached to it. When I was working on my hospital food project, we didn’t ask private hospitals about their catering precisely for that reason.

I think this is an important and often ignored facet of the cheap food argument. ‘Cheap’ and ‘value for money’ are not the same thing. Take bread for instance. You might buy a loaf of value bread for 30p. A ‘proper’ loaf with a proper crust and some seeds in it might cost you 90p. Certainly the first one is cheaper, but if the second one is so much more nutritious and filling that you only need to eat one slice of it, instead of 3 or 4 of the other one, then it doesn’t work out as better value.

Same with salt. We’re always being told to eat less salt, but rarely do you hear anyone say to use sea salt instead of rock salt, as it has a more intense flavour and you can get the same result by using less.

Good animal welfare is not just good for the animals!

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The Heritage Crafts Network

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