Pages

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Counting chickens . . .

image of a day old chickSo we were in Asda yesterday, looking at the total lack of free range chicken in the cabinets, and unable to see even the shelf labels where they should be. She-who-has-decided-to-take-a-stand went to Customer Services to ask about it, and the lady there said they must be sold out, as sales had risen since this week's programmes on Channel 4 about the chicken industry. Fair enough, except . . .

There followed a surreal little chat that showed Hugh and Jamie still have a long way to go... "I was shocked by the cruel way they're killed" and "But you know Hugh has a shop where he's selling chickens for £20 or more". And those two facts completely negated the whole principle in the (admittedly clearly tiny) mind of the customer services lady - she'd watched the programmes, and managed to entirely not understand the words being spoken.

Although killing animals doesn't look cute, it was actually humane - they are stunned before their throats are cut, and how else would you kill them? And Hugh's shop (just one shop in the whoooole country, so it's not like we're going to drive to Axminster to get a shockingly expensive bird) was just not relevant, although to be fair it was catastrophocally bad PR to open it in the same period, because there are always those desperate to find a conspiracy or ulterior motive.

And she just hadn't got the whole principle that it's how they live during their compressed lives that is the issue. And the flavour. Sigh. I'm not sure I saw anything that I hadn't been aware of, although watching day-old chicks being gassed on Jamie Oliver's show (which was a bit too cheery and celebrity-laden to have a major impact, I think) brought out the sentimentality in the audience very effectively. I don't think those two programmes will change the world just yet, although it does seem to have prompted several of the supermarkets to publish positive-sounding policy promises. I don't think Asda is one of them though.

4 comments:

Adem said...

After watching the programmes I too had a look in Tesco Westwood and was suprised to see them sold out of free-range chickens.

I found Hugh's series very interesting but it was a mazing the amount of people on film who thought it was all a scam to rip them off. Even when he waas telling them to go to Tesco and buy organic the rumours were still flying around.

I'll try and buy more organic although when buying pre-packaged chicken meals (curry, kievs, etc) we still won't know what we're eating.

The organic, free-range chickens certainly looked a lot happier running around than the standard birds who couldn't even move.

ZumiWeb said...

I'm certain sales of free range have shot up this week, but those determined not to be persuaded will have found enough reasons not to believe - the CHannel 4 blog has plenty of people forwhom the fact that both Jamie and Hugh are clearly multi-millionaires reason enough not to believe a word they say. And don't even go near the issue about Jamie fronting Sainsbury's adverts. Clearly you're not allowed to have more than one stream of thought, or believe in influencing from within, or simply think you should do what you can when you can...

And then there are some (on the 'right' side of the argument, like me!) who think the idea of millions of animals being dumped just for not growing fast enough to be a little wasteful of planetary resources, and even... whisper it... unethical.

Matt B said...

My observation is that we humans are basically selfish and often convenience (laziness by any other name) makes it too easy to look the other way on so many issues. Despite some inspiring efforts I sometimes wonder how we humans manage to do any good at all.

ZumiWeb said...

Well obviously "we" (the forces for good and justice) aren't going to win all the battles, especially when it come to expecting us and others to spend more - I suppose you settle for tipping the undecideds and not-quite-sures over the edge, and hope that others will eventually be peruaded (or be able to afford to) change their purchasing behaviour too.

And of course one wonders how cheap free range could be if their volumes rose to fill most of the supermarket shelves... economies of scale aren't always a bad thing.

And most shoppers in Tesco probably genuinely believe they are getting the best value, and if they could find the time to try a local grover or farm shop (not necessarily a posh farmer's market, but just an ordinary street market) they'd be stunned at what they paid for a perfect shape and a bit of cellophane.