The great organic chicken scandal
July 19, 2006
Veg Box Diaries regular, Kinson, sent me a scan of the above article from the Evening Standard. It seems Abel and Cole have been delivering Sainsburys’ ‘Taste the Difference’ chickens to their customers and charging £11.50 a pop. Naughty, naughty.
You try your best to buy the right stuff, but unless you actually go to the farm and dig it out the ground yourself – or wring the neck of the chuck with your own hands – you never really know what you’re getting. Its a question of trust, and vigilance.
Here’s another cautionary tale. At the farmer’s market in Islington last Sunday I picked up a lovely looking free-range (not organic) chicken. I asked all the right questions – breed, lifestyle, what feed was used. It all sounded tickety-boo. I was told they were fed on a mix of soya bean and cereal. Sounds OK, right? Last night, Radio 4 solemnly announced that the Brazilian rainforest is being decimated to clear land for growing soya beans… to feed British chickens. Yikes! Even the Bishop of Liverpool was declaring a boycott of soya-fed chickens.
Sometimes, you can’t win for trying.
I’ve wondered for a while how well-regulated some of London farmers’ markets are. The one at the bottom of Muswell Hill seemed full of chancers and bandwagon-jumpers. I remember one particularly flaky-looking character flogging punnets of green-sludge, allegedly coriander pesto, for 2 or 3 quid a snort. Taking the proverbial.
From my limited experience, the ones run by these dudes are pretty good. I’ve been to the one in Notting Hill and Islington and always had good produce, with a fair scattering of Soil Association-certified stallholders.
I agree with Catherine Ostler – green shouldn’t mean gullible. It would be a shame to let unscrupulous suppliers and clueless punters give the whole organic fandangle a bad name.