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Chicken out?

If you haven't yet come across the intensive versus free-range chicken debate, you're about to get an education.

by: Robyn Silverstone | 05 Mar 2008

Britian's number one eco foodie, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is on a mission to educate the UK public about the chicken they consume.

Fearnley-Whittingstall established his 'ethical-eating' platform with his River Cottage cooking series on Channel 4 for which he had to produce all the ingredients himself on his nearby farm. He also focused on rearing and slaughtering of turkeys, pigs and lambs.

Now Fearnley-Whittingstall is tackling the commercial chicken farm industry and is trying to wean the UK public off cheap intensive farmed chickens through his "Chicken Out!" campaign. The campaign aims to encourage the UK public to start thinking about where their food comes from and ultimately eating free-range instead of intensively farmed chicken.

According to an article published in The Independent, 95% of the chicken eaten in the UK has been intensively farmed as UK farmers are under enormous pressure to produce poultry as quickly and cheaply as possible. Broiler farms conditions are not optimal or humane for that matter. Chickens are raised in a highly controlled environment with limited space, often living in total darkness for up to 40 days, subjected to rough handling, crowded transport and stunning tactics to render the birds unconscious.

Stressing his point even more, Fearnley-Whittingstall along with celeb chefs, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay, ran three episodes in Channel 4's Big Food Fight called Hugh's Chicken Run where he created three chicken farms; intensive, commercial and free range to fully demonstrate his argument.

He built an intensive farm, and crammed as many chickens in a 17 per square-metre cage and starved them of natural daylight. He compared that farming method to the free-range alternative where he slightly reduced the number of chickens and altered the environment which improved the conditions and ultimately the taste of the chicken.

For more information on this topic and Fearnley-Whittingstall buy, The River Cottage MEAT Book.

What do you think – should we start investigating SA broiler farms as well?


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