Chicken Huggers

There’s a twin-tonged celebrity-chef assault in England on the cheap supermarket chicken: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is launching a short TV series in which he divides a shed and raises half his chickens intensively and half free range. (As the Sunday Times reports, the free-range chickens will be given “miniature footballs to kick and CDs to peck.” But whose CDs?) There’s a staggering line about why Fearnley-Whittingstall’s doing this: He “had first become aware of the scale of death in the industry when he worked with a maggot farmer in Essex who used dead chickens from a poultry plant as feed.”

Meanwhile, on the same channel, Jamie Oliver is launching what looks like a rawer campaign to take viewers inside commercial chicken operations and to imagine what else commercial poultry farming might look like. He’s hoping that free-range chickens will become the new cage-free eggs. The program’s called Jamie’s Fowl Dinners. The Times does some good reporting on the Ferrari-like design of intensively reared chickens: The Ross 308, the brand name of a popular supermarket breed, “comes with its own 24-page instruction manual and is one of the fastest-growing animals on the planet.”

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