Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Chicken Out!

Chicken Out! Campaign Sign-up

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.


Shropshire Girl said...

Good news tonight that intensive chook/egg farming is to be phased out within 4 years.

It appalls me that people have become so detached from their meat. They cannot seem to make the link between the living animal and what is on their polystyrene tray!

And I almost cried last night when someone said to Hugh that they never turned the carcase over to get at the meat underneath.

Irish Sallygardens said...

I applaud Hughs campaign. Like yourself, I view chicken as a luxury food item. Since keeping our own hens I simply can't comprehend how anyone can raise a chicken for the price of a battery hen, I shudder to think of what must go on to get to such a low cost food item.

Anonymous said...

I don't buy meat at all if I can help it, but I do buy eggs. Usually, I buy them from the roadside, from small farms that have a few boxes to sell and an honesty box to collect the money. These eggs are generally much tastier than bog-standard mass-produced eggs, and I can only assume that people who regularly buy BSMPE have never tasted 'proper' ones.


AMCSviatko said...

When I was a kid Chicken was something you ate only on special occassions - maybe birthdays and Christmas because it was expensive.

I no longer eat meat but have often wondered how, in the space of 30 years, Chicken has become a cheap meal option...

FactoBrunt said...

I'm fully behind Hugh. I felt for him so much watching him trying to convince the Axminster locals to buy free-range. The irony of the blokes in the pub, smoking and drinking, saying they couldn't afford free-range was very sad. Also the woman who, even after helping raise those chickens on their allotment, continued to buy the cheap stuff. How could she? "It's what I can afford!" Didn't she realise she didn't HAVE to buy chicken every day? Perhaps I'm being harsh, but it looked like she had a strong penchant for cakes or crisps which could have succumbed to allow some chickens a nicer life. It has nothing to do with cash and all to do with selfishness. It made me sad so many people in Axminster really were that selfish. Money has no value compared to the welfare of an animal. I'm so glad to see the news that intensive chicken farming is to be outlawed by 2012.

James Heywood said...

I've gone for free range eggs for donkeys years, and meat for a few year, at the behest of my wife. I knew it was a good idea, but I had no idea what the life a factory-farmed chicken was like. Now, thanks to Hugh, I'm more motivated.

I'm also starting to think about what I eat in restaurants. I went to the Harvester the other night, and discovered that all of their chicken is factory farmed! And they sell a lot of chicken. I feel a letter coming on.

Mam said...

Ok, you caught me out. I confess this week for the first time in absolutely yonks I bought a cheap chicken. I normally don't, I was ina mad rush and panic. Anyway it was pretty blurrrgghhh compared with what I've become used to, and also it didn't cook as well it was funny textured. Not be doing that again anytime soon!
Hazel xx

Anonymous said...

I think most of us who read this blog and others like it all share the same mindset, we agree completely with the campaign, now hopefully the scales will fall from the eyes of people who have no idea how our meat is farmed.

I have had to remove the link to the campaign from by blog and replace it with a silent one as the binging noise as more people sign up is just too irritating !!!

Jen Kuhn said...

Maybe if this works they can start it up in the US! I love my chickens; people get confused when I say that right before butcher time, but I love them enough to treat them right before eating them. Westerners take for granted meat at every meal. It is sad, really, and is why so many are over weight with health issues. I will be watching to see how this all turns out.

Great site, BTW.

Unknown said...

Blimey, that ad's loud!

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