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Jamie Oliver, Chicken Killer


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From a science blog called The Frontal Cortext:

Last Friday, in front of 4 million television viewers and a studio audience, the chef Jamie Oliver killed a chicken. Having recently obtained a United Kingdom slaughterman's license, Mr. Oliver staged a "gala dinner," in fact a kind of avian snuff film, to awaken British consumers to the high costs of cheap chicken.

"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," he said Monday in an interview.

"It only costs a bit more to give a chicken a natural life and a reasonably pleasant death," he told the champagne-sipping audience before he stunned the chicken, cut an artery inside its throat, and let it bleed to death, all in accordance with British standards for humane slaughter.

Mr. Oliver said that he wanted people to confront the reality that eating any kind of meat involves killing an animal, even if it is done with a minimum of pain.

Discuss.

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I have walked the slaughter line at several poultry operations. They were all producers following humane treatment practices. Nonetheless it is death on on industrial scale. Given what I saw, I would hate to think what a kill line at perdue or tysons would look like. Was it enough to make me a vegetarian? Nope, had chicken last night and boy was it good!

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This is all getting a bit old hat: Keller and his bunnies, Pollan and his pig, Jamie and his pullet.... Didn't Bourdain help eviscerate a pig in some Spanish village in A Cook's Tour? Or did he just have to stick his hand up the swine's bunghole to get at the intestine? There's a kind new age-y machismo to it: "I'm so sensitive, I kill my own meat."

Plus the animal killers are starting to reming me of militant anti-smokers: "did you know that smoking can kill you?" they ask, for the thousandth time. Yes. "Did you know that that steak used to be a living, breathing animal?" they as, for the thousandth time. Yes. Now pas the Bernaise and leave me alone.

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Gordon Ramsay's done this a couple of times on The F Word, raising turkeys and pigs in his back yard with his family. I thought he handled it pretty well, it wasn't too preachy. Everything was in terms of getting his kids to realize where food comes from.

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This is all getting a bit old hat: Keller and his bunnies, Pollan and his pig, Jamie and his pullet.... Didn't Bourdain help eviscerate a pig in some Spanish village in A Cook's Tour? Or did he just have to stick his hand up the swine's bunghole to get at the intestine? There's a kind new age-y machismo to it: "I'm so sensitive, I kill my own meat."
Unfortunately, you are far more informed than the average plebe. You read the food blogs, the newspapers, magazines, and bulletin boards. You discuss this kind of stuff with the people in your social circle. The vast majority have no freaking idea what goes on in factory farms. To you it's overexposed. I don't think enough people know the facts. I'd just like to see these guys go beyond the cruelty issue and also look at the safety and environmental issues.
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Gordon Ramsay's done this a couple of times on The F Word, raising turkeys and pigs in his back yard with his family. I thought he handled it pretty well, it wasn't too preachy. Everything was in terms of getting his kids to realize where food comes from.
Jamie, from the NY Times:
“It’s nothing that doesn’t happen millions of a times a day” he said. “There was no need to make it any more dramatic than it is.”
Old hat for you, maybe, but I would wager that most have no idea. Better that they all all chow down on McNuggets, and to hell with the environmental, safety, and health costs?

Here's a link to Jamie's Fowl Dinners on BBC4.

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Can you imagine the outrage if he did that here in the US?!

It would certainly be interesting. I'm reminded of that Far Side cartoon of the boneless chicken farm. We're not too far from making that reality. Soon there will be some kind of huge vat where an enormous boneless skinless breast grows continuously while workers "harvest" vast chunks of it for sale. Meanwhile chicken populations will explode, wreaking havoc on our society until they're given the right to vote in 2028 which causes the rebirth of intelligent political debate as, by then, chicken IQs will surely exceed ours.

Dead chickens flying in Europe...

post-27-1200593789_thumb.jpg

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Meat involves death, the old joke about "a pig like that, you don't eat all at once" notwithstanding. That this should surprise anyone (besides, perhaps, Miss Teen USA South Carolina and FOX News viewers) is a sad commentary on the recent state of our civilization.

This amusing commentary has been making the rounds recently: Iris Is Not A Vegetarian.

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Actually, it's Channel 4, who are also producing Hugh's Chicken Run (made by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the River Cottage Meat Book guy). They're a commercial network, and this is the kind of thing that would make their programming people feel very good about serving the target demographic. How it might play with their advertisers is another matter, especially since it sounds like Jamie didn't fully think that through himself - he's got a million-pound plus contract with Sainsbury's, and they're apparently rather displeased with the program and his subsequent comments.

(There is a BBC4, but it's a fairly recent addition to the Beeb's lineup, all-digital which means a lot of people don't get it, and mostly shows reruns or documentaries, although they've got a good run on Top of the Pops rebroadcasts at the moment. :( )

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There are people -- I know a couple -- who won't (or at least, don't like to) eat meat on the bone, because it reminds them of where the meat came from. Similarly, I know people -- I am married to one -- who won't (or don't like to) eat meat that, as presented, reminds them too much of the animal from which it came. (Thus, at one high-end restaurant, I ended up eating her rabbit entree, because, well, it looked like a rabbit.)

It's not a matter of these people being "surprised" by the fact that meat follows from death. They're not numbskulls; they know the facts. It's the willful blindness that bothers me, and I think such people should, in fact, be reminded that meat cannot be divorced from death.

P.S.: I am tempted to draw one of many applicable analogies that verge on the political. But I won't, for fear of accidentally setting in motion a chain of events that will, inevitably, lead to the invocation of Godwin's Law.

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There are people -- I know a couple -- who won't (or at least, don't like to) eat meat on the bone, because it reminds them of where the meat came from. Similarly, I know people -- I am married to one -- who won't (or don't like to) eat meat that, as presented, reminds them too much of the animal from which it came. (Thus, at one high-end restaurant, I ended up eating her rabbit entree, because, well, it looked like a rabbit.)
It's not just meat, sadly.

I spoke to someone once who prefers big, cottony pre-season strawberries from Safeway or Giant to buying local fruit at the farmer's market. Says the ones at the market have dirt on them and she once found a worm inside which was way gross.* Me, I thought you're more likely to find little legged bugs on them.

Not a book I'd recommend, but in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver's husband tells of a student who was incredulous when told carrots grow in the ground.

Jamie needs to go out into a field next time, dig up a potato, wash, peel, slice and fry it to make French fries chips.

*There were also these married couples being real friendly with the more boyish farmers.

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Jamie needs to go out into a field next time, dig up a potato, wash, peel, slice and fry it to make French fries chips.
His new show takes place in his garden, so perhaps he will do just that.
*There were also these married couples being real friendly with the more boyish farmers.
:(
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It's not a matter of these people being "surprised" by the fact that meat follows from death. They're not numbskulls; they know the facts. It's the willful blindness that bothers me, and I think such people should, in fact, be reminded that meat cannot be divorced from death.

Because?

I'm reminded of all the good that endless hours spent reminding me what comes from hard drinking, chain-smoking, fast driving and other bad habits had on me, and how quickly sermons get old, especially when delivered during dinner. :(

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I'm reminded of all the good that endless hours spent reminding me what comes from hard drinking, chain-smoking, fast driving and other bad habits had on me, and how quickly sermons get old, especially when delivered during dinner. :(
Lucky for you that someone gives a damn about these things, otherwise you'd be stuck eating exclusively factory farmed meat instead of Eco-Friendly bunnies and million dollar pork chops.
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Lucky for you that someone gives a damn about these things, otherwise you'd be stuck eating exclusively factory farmed meat instead of Eco-Friendly bunnies and million dollar pork chops.

And I'll bet, like me, they came to these conclusions wihtout any self-righteous lectures from British celebrity chefs.

Factory farming protests are the gateway drug for foie gras bans. :(

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This amusing commentary has been making the rounds recently: Iris Is Not A Vegetarian.
Iris is not yet a pre-teen or teenager. They all seem to become vegetarians at some point.
Seems there's more than one young carnivore named Iris. This Gourmet Magazine author/dad is concerned his daughter Iris will outgrow ordering her strip steak rare - he isn't prepared for a veggie-teen.
I should have handled steakhouses the same way I do whorehouses, crackhouses, and the White House: try to keep my three-year-old, Iris, from learning about them for as long as possible. Oh, it's not that I have any moral issue with steakhouses, but they're an expensive habit, and Iris has enough expensive habits already (toys, fancy apple juice, preschool).
Maybe Princess Peanut can set up a playdate with each Iris and introduce them to Uncle Michael.
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