Good Food Blog
Checking out our chickensPosted at 11:51AM, 07 July 2008 by Abbie Dobson - News journalist
So, Mr Fearnley-Whittingstall continues his campaign to free the nation's chickens, or at least, for starters, those reared by Tesco. His words at the supermarket giant's recent AGM may not have elicited quite as enthusiastic a response as had been hoped. Why? Well, because when it comes to matters of our feathered friends, cost comes first.
His desire to get us all thinking and demanding that the chickens we buy have a right to the five freedoms hasn't quite taken off in the same way as say Jamie's School Dinners, but does beg the question: do we ask enough about the way in which the meat we buy was raised?
Many would argue that, conscience aside, a free-range chicken is a tastier choice. But we also know it's a choice our wallets have to bear.
The 'Chicken Out' campaign aims to improve the welfare and de-intensify the farming of chickens. Quite right too, many of you may clamour! It would be more than a wishbone stuck in my throat if I thought the little fella I just pulled out the oven all golden and juicy had not, as Defra say, had the freedom 'to express normal behaviour'. (Though quite what is normal about a chicken's behaviour is lost on me!) However, how many of us will think about the life of a chicken when the spiralling cost of food sees us with some of the highest shopping bills we've seen in years?
Many would argue that, conscience aside, a free-range chicken is a tastier choice. But we also know it's a choice our wallets have to bear. Tesco argue that to rear the chickens in a way advocated by the campaign would cost three times as much. I may and do choose to pay three times as much but not everyone is willing or indeed able. Should the right to eat chicken be only for those that can afford it?
Remember the Bernard Matthews bird flu outbreak early last year? Who can forget the enduring images of machinery clawing through random pieces of bird, whilst men in white coats disposed of the casualties. It was difficult to grasp why we continue to rear these birds in such a soulless way, but I was told this opinion was too middle class. If you're a low-income family meat produced in this way is the only way in which it becomes affordable. So is this new campaign merely creating a two tier system - the can-haves and the can-have-nots? What next? Roast beef?