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Tony Grist

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Chicken Out [Jan. 11th, 2008|10:28 am]
Tony Grist
This is the week for being nice to chickens. I've watched celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's three films about how he tried to turn his home town of Axminster into a free-range paradise and tonight his pal- fellow celebrity chef Jaimie Oliver- has a related programme in which he's going to be killing chickens on stage and cooking chicken nuggets and similar atrocities in front of a live audience in order to sicken us to our stomachs.

It's spilling out into the real world too. Jaimie said something that angered Sainsburys- for whom he makes all those lovely blokey ads- and has been forced to issue an apology. And now the word is that Sainsbury's is going to be writing to all of us who own one of their in-store nectar cards to explain how tenderly they love their chickens.

Ever felt you were being got at? Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a very nice chap but if I found him loitering by the chiller cabinet in my local Tesco's and he tried to browbeat me into buying the more expensive cuts (as he did in the film- and I'm amazed Tesco allowed him to do it) I'd get pretty annoyed. A lot of people in Axminster got pretty annoyed too and wrote nasty things about him in the papers- like he was only doing it to big up his own (very expensive) farm shop. Poor Hugh, how he suffered. A prophet is not without honour save in his own country and among his own people.

So? Well I'm a natural contraian but I don't suppose I'm the only viewer who started off supporting Hugh and ended the week wanting to shout, "fuck off, posh boy".  Because, see, I'm  on Hayley's side. Hayley is the magnificently assertive, single mum who participated in all Hugh's little projects and publicity stunts and was last seen popping into Tesco's for her two factory-farmed birds for a fiver. And she didn't do it sneakily either. All along she stood up to Hugh's blandishments and bullying.  Yes, she kept saying (in so many words) it's very sad about the chickens but they are only chickens and free range is for those who an afford it, not me.

(A couple of people on a discussion site Ailz frequents said, "Well look at her, she's fat. She could afford real meat if she laid off the cakes"- which made me really, really cross. Nice one, Hugh, you've set up someone much poorer than you as a national hate figure. Someone poorer and braver.)

But here's the rub- the Devil's equation.  Animal cruelty means Hayley's kids can eat meat. Take the cheap chickens off the shelves in Tesco's and the poor can't afford roast dinners. Hugh's had no answer for Hayley except  to go all shruggy and teary-eyed and self-pitying. He's a rich man and his pal Jaimie's a rich man and for all their down with the real people blather I just don't think they get it. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 12:31 pm (UTC)
So? Well I'm a natural contraian but I don't suppose I'm the only viewer who started off supporting Hugh and ended the week wanting to shout, "fuck off, posh boy". Because, see, I'm on Hayley's side. Hayley is the magnificently assertive, single mum who participated in all Hugh's little projects and publicity stunts and was last seen popping into Tesco's for her two factory-farmed birds for a fiver. And she didn't do it sneakily either. All along she stood up to Hugh's blandishments and bullying. Yes, she kept saying (in so many words) it's very sad about the chickens but they are only chickens and free range is for those who an afford it, not me.

I have to disagree with you here....I think Hayley is on the defensive, I think Hayley has a chip on her shoulder, as the 'poor single mum'. etc...I think she has a case of 'Inverted snobbery!'.

it is about putting food on the table, and the best you can. surely her kids are worth that. Hugh wasn't saying she had to buy one of him, but the free range chickens from Tesco are only a couple of pounds more... ( I know Hugh's arn't).

I had 4 kids, and an hubby (ex) who never worked, and I managed to feed them on free range chicken etc - reason at the time was becasue one of them was Hyperactive and had problems with all colouring and preservativesm and therefore an organic free range diet was the only way... this is the 80's and I was a weirdo and a hippy for doing so. (he didn't help at all ).

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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-11 01:18 pm (UTC)
Yes. It can be done. We're on a limited budget and are fairly fastidious about the meat we buy.

But Hayley's objections have weight and the programme never really addressed them. Ailz and I have been discussing this and how Hugh might have taken up the challenge. Maybe we need another whole series dealing with how you can eat ethically on a crippling budget.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 02:22 pm (UTC)
I agree with that - I use to go round and show women how to cook on a budget in the 80's...lol I was asked by my health visitor etc to go into groups and talk about how I managed on a very low income ( we lived on the dole for nearly 10 years...!! in thos dark depressing years of waste management by MrsT)- I was in my mid twenties then. A good size chicken fed us for 3 days!! lol

it seemed that most young women/girls here in the area of Sheffield I lived/ ( and now live again) didn't know how to cook for a start... and the supermarkets appeared to, and still do, offer cheaper processed allternatives for the masses. Maybe I was lucky in that I belonged to the last load of young people taught home economics at school, and that my mum taught be how to cook from scratch. The other stuff I learnt... as I love my food...lol

I found out that many people don't know how to make basics, prefering to use jars/packets/frozen processed stuff etc all the time... which is actually more expensive.

I did eventually have an allotment ...lol and grew stuff... though in the end my kids would beg me to buy them processed stuff...lol and bought cake/busicuts etc. i found out later they use to swap their home made food in their school\lunhces...lol It's only now they say how much their friends really liked my home made stuff...

I have to say I have become lazy too... and for while we too bought into the supermarket hype... strangely as we got materially richer.... now we are 'poor' again... well finaicially, that is, ( I am on disability and he has just been laid off) I am looking back and rethinking it . Speaking to my kids who can all cook from 'nothing much to their friends amazement at uni etc, I don't think it was a bad thing.

So back to what you were saying perhaps Channel 4 and Hugh and other TV chefs needs to do a series on how to eat ethically on a crippling budget... and perhasp bring it back into the school and culture that even the 'poor' people can cook!


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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-12 10:24 am (UTC)
It's curious, isn't it- food porn- all those celebrity chefs with their cookbooks and TV series- has never been more popular and yet there are loads and loads of people out there who don't know how to cook.

I think everyone- boys as well as girls- should be taught the basics in school.

I never had a lesson. What few skills I have I picked up through having to do it- and from reading the 1960 edition of Mrs Beeton- which my mother gave me on the occasion of my first marriage.
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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-01-11 01:17 pm (UTC)
"if she laid off the cakes"...
Well unfortunately it is true that the price of food seems to be inversely proportional to its calorific content. It is easy for people on a budget to load up with salt and fat and sugar. A little bit of better quality meat a couple of times a week would probably be healthy for all of us.

I agree with you to the extent that people with an enlarged sense of ethics do tend to bully other people to feel the same way, c.f. animal rights and anti-nuclear protestors. But I think Hugh and Jamie are right that people do need to be aware of how their food is grown, killed and p[repared. We have lost that link with the land.

I know people who will eat fish, unless it looks like a fish. Their food needs to be disguised so they forget it used to be a living animal. No head, no tail, no bones, no fins, no skin. On one of Hugh's past programmes, there were people who would only eat chicken if it was made into kievs or nuggets, not if it looked like a leg or a breast. I despise that attitude. If they are that squeamish, they don't deserve animals to be killed for their pleasure and nourishment. Let them eat vegetables.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-11 01:25 pm (UTC)
I started off cheering Hugh on. I've been a vegetarian and now I'm a stickler for ethical meat; I just didn't think he addressed Hayley's concerns.

We need to go deeper. This isn't just about animal cruelty; it's about education and poverty and class. It's about all the things our Labour government should be hotly pursuing and isn't because it's gone over to the other side.

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[User Picture]From: veronica_milvus
2008-01-11 01:42 pm (UTC)
Maybe it all went wrong when we dropped Domestic Science from the school curriculum (although I learned more constructive cookery from my mother and Delia Smith). There are fewer more important lessons in life than how to feed yourself.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 02:23 pm (UTC)
exactly.... !!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-11 06:40 pm (UTC)
I agree.

Domestic Science should be taught in schools- and not only to girls.
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2008-01-11 01:31 pm (UTC)
Causes often come across as luxury items. The poor are just trying to get by.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 02:27 pm (UTC)
why can't the poor have a cause... lol I think it's inverted snobbery that if you are poor you are a vitim and it's not your fault you can't shop/cook/make choices etc. becasue you are on a low income.are a single mum/disabled etc etc...

many of our parents ans grandparent were not even as wealthy as some of our 'poor'., etc... and yet they ate better that we do.

My ex bro in law was shocked when he first came over here from Portugal, when looking round the supermarkets, and the markets, etc and how people bought food and ate he made the comment that 'Peasents eat better in Portugal'!
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[User Picture]From: solar_diablo
2008-01-11 03:00 pm (UTC)
Perhaps you're misinterpreting my point. I'm not saying the poor can't have a cause. I'm saying that causes often come across as luxury items. Meaning they are something the wealthy are preoccupied with, because they have the money and spare time to engage in them.

And I'll agree that being poor does not confer a "victim status" to someone which allows them to make poor choices guilt-free.
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[User Picture]From: shullie
2008-01-11 03:44 pm (UTC)
I' agree with you.. I got the irony... sorry if my post came across as if I didn't. It's something I feel very stronly about.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-11 06:44 pm (UTC)
Yes. This is my criticism of H F-W. I don't think he understands what it's like to be a single mother who's living on benefits.
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From: msjann65
2008-01-11 02:56 pm (UTC)
Question: (from a former vegetable gardener) -- If organically grown vegetables and berries cost less to produce (they do, chemicals are costly) then WHY do they cost so much more in the supermarket? Also, free range chicken and grass fed beef or lamb -- why so expensive with the lower feed bills?
Me? I do my best with available funds, find that I can eat well on the non-organics, non free range stuff, while I can always be more than a bit hungry on the other foods. So the choice is clear.
I agree with you, my friend - we need a series dealing with how you can eat ethically on a crippling budget. When my kids were small it certainly would have been un-ethical to let them go hungry because I felt sorry for the animals who fed us.
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[User Picture]From: ibid
2008-01-11 09:12 pm (UTC)
In Super size me Spurlock mentions lobbies which mean that kids do not get proper meals but are fed on junk food. I am sure there are lots of special interest lobbies and things that dont get publicised but then I am an anticapitalist crank.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2008-01-12 11:04 am (UTC)
I don't really understand the economics. When it comes to meat I believe one factor is space. A field of grass will support fewer beasts than a factory building in which the feed comes through on a conyeyor belt.



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