Welsh Girl's Allotment

Hello World,(a bit ambitious as only my mam knows I am here yet !) This is my blog detailing my quest for an allotment, its cultivation and hopefully bountiful crops. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO LEAVE COMMENTS, EVEN IF IT IS ONLY A HELLO !!!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Chicken Out Campaign

Although this is an allotment blog and I try hard not to deviate I have been fascinated by the recent three part series by HFW highlighting the treatment of chickens. I will admit that it wasn't a revelation - I have known about this practise and refused to buy battery eggs or cheap chickens for some time - my husband however cannot resist a bargain and does buy them occasionally.

Love him or hate him you can't fail to have an opinion about HFW's ideas. I agree with his aims to encourage people to purchase free range chicken - hence my decision to include the banner with the opportunity to sign up to the campaign - I apologise for the constant binging noise I am trying to remedy that ! If I can't shut it up I will remove it and put a silent link in place!

I understand that the cost of a free range chicken is a bit galling to some people - but surely its a matter of choice - do you need that last pint down the pub or should you put the money towards better quality food. Life is about choices

However, as always there are two sides to every story, whilst reading Stoneheads blog - something everyone should do see the link in the sidebar!! he has done some digging around and has discovered that;

"I was even more puzzled by HFW’s comment that intensive farmers would not speak to him in person or in front of the camera.
After all, it does seem they have a good point to make.
I continued my research, eventually finding
Lloyd Maunder’s website and a very interesting press release (dated Tuesday, 8 January 2008).
It reads:
FOR THE RECORD – In the first ‘Hugh’s Chicken Run’ programme last night Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall claimed that when he asked poultry farmers for access to an intensive farm “they wouldn’t let me any closer than the end of a phone.”
This is untrue.
In the making of ‘Hugh’s Chicken Run’, leading poultry producer Lloyd Maunder Ltd. facilitated filming for Hugh and his production team on no less than three farms, including a standard Assured Chicken Production (ACP) unit which is the type of ‘full-on intensive’ farm that Hugh claimed he couldn’t get access to.
The company’s commercial director Andrew Maunder was interviewed by Hugh on three occasions and engaged in a robust debate with him about the chicken industry.
We have been told the reason the footage and interviews have not been included in the programmes is because of duplication with Jamie Oliver’s upcoming programme ‘Fowl Dinners’, for which Lloyd Maunder also facilitated filming.
However, we do not believe this is grounds for such a blatant untruth.
Lloyd Maunder is one of the UK’s leading specialist poultry producers, supplying supermarkets nationwide.
Visit www.devonshirered.co.uk or www.lloydmaunder.co.uk for more information and pictures of Hugh’s visits to our farms.

Please visit Stoney's blog and read his article as I have used his research to supplement my post.

So it would appear that all is not how it was portrayed by the programme - is anything in the media these days?

However this does not distract from the fact that HFW has brought these industry practises to mass public attention - knowledge is power what you do with the knowledge is up to you !!


At 1:11 pm, Blogger FactoBrunt said...

It wasn't a revalation for us enlightened types, but I was surprised how many people WERE shocked by it. I quite like Hugh and it's a shame he (or the producers of the show) saw fit to not mention the interview.

It's interesting that you say life is about choice. The choice you give is not the one that interests me. People should wonder if they need that last pint down the pub or allow a chicken a better quality of life. "A pint of beer or better food?" It's all me me me. "A pint of beer or make a better life" Now that's a choice!

Incidentally, I noticed lots of other supporting blogs removing the banner because of the noise it makes. The good intentions of a thoughtless web/graphic-design company once again actually going against the cause because no-noe wants the bloody thing dinging at them constantly.

Anyway, good on Hugh and Jamie for bringing this stuff into the public eye. There's already been a political change, so it might be working.

At 1:24 pm, Blogger welsh girls allotment said...

Facto brunt thanks for your comments, however I have read your second paragraph over and over and still cannot quite grasp your point.

You seem to disagree with my idea of evaluating how we spend our money to enable the individual to make more ethical choices, when you say ' the choice you give is one that doesn't interest me' but then you go on to say 'a pint of beer or a better life now that's a choice'

This is exactly my point - by better food I don't mean 'finest' or other nonense claims but that the animals have had a better life before they are slaughtered for the table.

Have you misunderstood me or I have misunderstood you ?? !!

At 2:09 pm, Blogger Hamster said...

As I understand it (I may be wrong!), factobrunt is saying that the choice should be motivated by concern for the chicken's welfare, rather than by your own desire fo better quality food. That's a very noble viewpoint, but I haven't yet found myself in a situation where welfare or sensitive, responsible husbandry haven't also resulted in a better quality product. I don't think you can separate out the two issues.

Yes, I always eat free range or organic chicken because I don't agree with broiler houses, but also because it is healthier for me as well as better for the chickens. Similarly, I get an organic veg box because I believe local food, sensitively farmed is better for the environment and for wildlife, but it also means that my carrots taste carrot-ier, and that my veg is fresher and more nutritious.

I don't think this is necessarily selfish. I couldn't tell you whether I'd decided to buy free range primarily for the sake of the chickens or for myself. It goes hand in hand for me. I think that caring for the welfare of animals, the planet and other people is generally a good thing that benefits everybody. (If that doesn't sound ridiculously nauseating!)

At 8:55 pm, Blogger Matron said...

Yes,I watched all 3 HFW programmes. Supermarkets generally are out to make money, so if you can get 22 chickens per square meter rather than 17.. they will. Do chickens have brains big enough to think with? I don't know. I certainly know that free range chicken tastes far better than battery chicken. Free range chickens are still much too expensive - but then they would have to cut corners to make them cheaper, wouldn't they?

At 9:17 pm, Blogger Mara said...

I think it's a shame that there have been various issues that have detracted from this campaign. Since I have my pc on mute all the time I had no idea I was driving people mad with pinging noises!

At 1:56 pm, Anonymous Soilman said...

Your post confirmed my ambivalence about HFW, Welsh girl. I always agree with his message, but rarely like the way he presents it. His stubborn promotion of the HFW brand so often gets in the way.
Like you, I'm stunned by people's priorities. One of the stats that got me shaking my head sadly was from Oliver's 'Fowl Dinners' – that a free range egg costs a whole 20p (as opposed to 7p for a caged egg). That anybody in this country of ours, however poor, can claim that they genuinely 'can't afford' to pay 20p for an egg is an insult to my intelligence.

At 9:32 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with soilman above; I too was annoyed with people who claimed that they couldn't afford to pay the two pounds difference for a free range chicken. Even the poorest of those interviewed still have a tv, a car, smoke sigarettes and play in the lottery, and they can't afford a free range egg?

But anyway, the reason I post is another. I'm Dutch and because we can't get Channel 4 over here I have to wait until my dear British friend Alison sends me tapes (because she knows I adore HFW, bless her!) So I finally saw the three parts of Hugh's Chicken Run.
My first reaction was envy at how easy a Britisher could purchase a free range chicken if he or she wanted, because back here, if I wanted a free range whole chicken, I'd have to go to a specialist poultry shop and they are few and far between (and I live in a *big* city, mind) Of course, this might have something to do with the fact that we don't use our ovens as much for cooking meat; we tend to fry and stew and our meat is sold to us, even at a butchers, in 'small cuts' (ie. chicken breasts, pork chops, steaks). I couldn't find roasting joint if you'd pay me...
My second, and more important, thought was that I was annoyed that Hugh chose to use the emotional route. Of course intensive farming isn't as nice and fluffy as free range, and yes, I'd love to be a hobbit and prance around with flowers in my hair, but the truth is that I'm a middle aged woman living in an overcrowded country who has't seen a live chicken in real life since she was six and went to a petting zoo.
My first reaction to the intensively farmed chickens was not "oh poor chickies" but "dear lord, they're just like us - bored to death with nothing to do but sit around and eating".
So I'd have loved it if Hugh had put in some intellectual arguments in as well and had said something about the poor farmers being forced (by contract) to sell only to one supermarket for outragious prices or something (like Morgan Spurlock did with McDonalds)
Again, not that I don't feel sorry for the chickens, but I feel it almost as an insult to my intelligence that I, the viewer/consumer/citizin, are only approached at an emotional level. I'm an intelligent being! I don't make decisions solely on emotional grounds!


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