Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Coming face-to-face with food

This excellent article from the NY Times describes the efforts of several chefs to raise awareness - their own and consumers' - about the reality that when eating meat, one is eating a formerly living being. Some gross stunts, but in fact, it is a gross business. Excerpts:

"A chicken is a living thing, an animal with a life cycle, and we shouldn’t expect it will cost less than a pint of beer in a pub,” (Jamie Oliver)

Many chefs believe absolutely that meat from happy, healthy animals tastes better. ... they also believe that if they’re going to turn a pig into a plate of pork chops, they should be able to look it in the eye, taking responsibility for both the treatment it receives in life and the manner of its death.

But the most shocking of all may be his revelation that price wars have squeezed the profit margin of the modern poultry farmer to about 6 cents a bird. Mr. Oliver’s message to supermarket shoppers is clear: the only reason for the miserable lives lived by most chickens is your insistence on cheap food.

“The hardest part of the slaughter was the betrayal,” [chef Tamara Murphy] said. “The pigs get in the trailer because they trust you, they get out of the trailer because they trust you, they go into the pen because they trust you.”

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