Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (the only TV chef I can bear for more than a few seconds) is campaigning about the wretched conditions of battery chickens. It's a topic dear to my heart. On Hugh's Chicken Out campaign website he says:
I feel so strongly about our chickens that I'm launching a national campaign, which I'm calling Chicken Out! Part of it will be a new TV series on Channel 4, which will help you to understand the conditions in which most table birds are reared, and to put pressure on the industry to raise its standards. Chicken Out! is being led by River Cottage locals, especially in and around Axminster, who are boycotting intensively-reared chickens and choosing free range instead. I need you to do the same.
You can go to the Chicken Out website and sign up to the campaign. But most of all you can stop buying battery farmed chicken and eggs.
I buy chicken very rarely, but when I do I get a proper free range organic corn fed chicken from the butcher in the village. It's not cheap, but I don't expect it to be. I don't expect steak to be cheap either, it's a luxury food. I think of chicken that way now. As a delicious luxury item to have once in a while, to prepare lovingly and enjoy. By God, my roast organic corn fed free range chicken tastes fabulous. You can't say that for a £2 battery bird. And it usually gives my at least three meals - roast meat one day, stir fry or something with the leftovers the next day, and soup made out of the carcase on day three. So it's really not that expensive after all.
And if you want to be absolutely certain about the quality of your eggs, and save money, and enjoy a taste of the good life, why not keep a few chickens yourself. For years I wished I had space for a few chickens. When I finally took the plunge, I realised that almost every house we've ever lived in had more than enough space for chickens. They really need very little room, and they're very little trouble. If you could keep a rabbit, you could keep a chicken. For more information about keeping backyard chickens, start here.