Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Newsflash: that skinless, boneless chicken breast used to be alive.

While the New York Times is no doubt frequently behind the curve (The Omnivore's Dilemma was published almost two years ago), it's still nice to see them spend some words on the chefs and writers who are doing their darndest to make us confront the origins of our food (our processed foods and our meat in particular).

Today they published an article in the Dining & Wine section entitled "Chefs' New Goal: Looking Dinner in the Eye." With his characteristically flamboyant style, Jamie Oliver spent last week educating the British public about the horrors of factory poultry and egg production, something I'd give my eyeteeth to see Martha Stewart (or Sara Moulton, or Ina Garten, or anyone else similarly popular with the average American cook) do. Oliver's shock tactics included, according to the Times, suffocating baby male chicks (as is done daily on egg-production farms) and putting birds in standard battery cages (as is done daily on poultry farms).

I'm not a vegetarian, and I don't think I ever will be. But I staunchly believe that if you're going to eat it, you should know where it came from. You should be aware of the ethical, environmental, and agricultural consequences of your diet.

How cheap is that factory-produced meat, really? Not cheap enough.


Louisa Edwards said...

Holy CATS! That Jamie is a pistol.

DW said...

I couldn't agree more. Reminds me of reading that passage in Ruhlman's book where Thomas Keller talks about slaughering rabbits. He appreciated the food more by understanding where it came from.

Humanely raised animals taste better. I'm certainly no vegetarian, and I'm sure to some I'll always be an animal-murder advocate. But I am truly thankful for things like heritage birds raised in beautiful places who are well fed. And while I have yet to actually taste a cow that was once drunk on sake and given happy ending massages on a daily basis, I bet they're as good as I hear they are.

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