About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006
He Who Has No Sin
From another blog.

Sinful. Unless it refers to torturing chickens to save a few cents off the price of an egg (and I'm not sure that actually is a sin), it's a naff word to use in regards to food.

(well I'm sure it is)

I do understand that everyone wants to get the cheapest price in everything that they buy and eggs are no exception. It's pretty easy to say or think that an egg is an egg after all, only it isn't. There is a huge difference in the quality of free range vs battery farmed eggs. For a start, battery farmed eggs always have a tendency to spread on cooking as the white has little viscosity. On one visit to a battery farm, I had this discussion with the farmer who suggested hot weather was the culprit. Well at this time it wasn't hot, the eggs couldn't have been any fresher and still they spread.

Then there is the taste. You probably wouldn't think that eggs, regardless of their source, taste different from each other, I know I used to think like that. Until the day I served up free range eggs against battery eggs. Okay, that's only me. Rick Stein did it too. He devoted a segment on one of his shows to cooking up different types of eggs and served them to people like you and me. The verdict? Free range eggs won hands down for taste and flavour.

It's not just the eggs either. Free range roasting chickens taste better than their anemic battery cousins. We regularly roast a 1.5 kg (3.5 lb) free range bird and it is quite enough for two meals for the three of us. The meat has an almost gamey quality with a firm bite and little fat. Contrast this with a battery bird. When we used to roast one, we would invariably get almost a cup of rendered chicken fat and the bird was good for only one meal. The meat is soft and greasy, with no pronounced flavour.

So why does this blogger think that it isn't a sin to keep chickens under battery conditions?

It's probably because it is difficult to empathise with the chickens. After all, they are kept in huge barns sheltered from all the elements. Food and water is in constant supply and there are no predators to worry about. Sounds kind of ideal, right? Well lets slip ourselves into their shoes, so to speak.

Imagine that you have a relatively quiet upbringing until the day you are capable of going to work. From that day on, you are unceremoniously shoved into your office, a steel mesh cage, just one cage in long rows of such cages, with other workers just the same as you. The cage you are in gives you just enough room to stand up, but not enough to lie down, however there is enough room to turn around, just. You stand there on the steel mesh with no shoes, in constant pain as your feet slowly deform from the wire. Your neighbour is never more than an armslength away; whether you are bored or just irritated by him, you start to throw punches. The boss sees this and in an attempt to stop it cuts your hands off (debeaking). Across the row from you, another worker is pulling his hair out, he loses his hands too. If you become sick, you die, because you are not worth the money to treat, it's cheaper to replace you.

Every day you eat the same gruel, it never varies, just as your job is unchanging. It takes a minute or so to perform, then you have another 23 hours and 59 minutes to think about doing it again, because the light is never switched off. When you do manage fitfull sleep you dream of whales that swim the wild oceans for years, free as a bird, until the day they meet a whaling ship, then suffer a short painful death and you wonder would it be better to be a whale, for the only release from this living hell is when you are no longer efficient at your job and your head is cut off.

Battery farming is considered so cruel that two countries have all ready banned it. The only reason it exists is because it is the cheapest way to produce eggs and chickens, but there is something you can do about it if you want. Don't buy battery eggs or chickens. These farms can only exist because they make money at the expense of animal welfare. If you don't buy their product, it will force the switch to more humane methods of farming. Put another way, every time you buy a chicken or eggs produced by a battery farm you are supporting this method of farming, whether you mean to or not. It may only be the power of one, but if enough people say no to battery farming through their shopping choices, things will change for the better. You only need to ask yourself would you want to live like these chickens, if the answer is no, make the choice.

Say no to sin.
  posted at 7:34 am

At 6:29 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can't agree more - the taste and structure of the eggs is totally different. I have my own chooks - not free range because of local foxes and they don't really work with gardens. However they have a large run lots of variety of pickings and reward me mightily.

At 6:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, super writing!
That one vote is all I have but I vote every time I buy eggs.

At 9:18 pm, Blogger pentacular said...

Haven't touched an assault and battery chook egg for years. Same philosophy. The taste, texture, quality of the free range is not a co-incidence, and is conscience free too. Simple message, don't betray your taste buds for your wallet nerve. Well said mate.

At 7:25 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear Hear!!! we have our own chooks...five wonderful productive pets, or that's what I call them. On the odd occasion I have to buy eggs they are always free range!

I know it's easy to say to shop with your conscience and taste buds and not your wallet...but you'll be better off in the long run.

Thanks Neil

At 8:50 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi anon, the key there is the large run, lots of room to move and socialize. Feed them well and they feed you well too.

Hi tanna, your one vote is the most important thing. Thanks.

Hi pentacular, well said yourself!

Hi lesley, it's funny, but people with chickens understand this message the best. Being in a supermarket is so far from a farm and so far from reality.

At 10:53 am, Blogger Ange said...

Fantastic piece, hope you make some people out there think about what they are buying! I always buy free range as I have fond memories of my grandparents raising chickens in their back yard & always being given a dozen eggs to take home whenever visiting as well as eating the tasty chooks when their time was up! Battery farming is inhumane & cant beleive in a country like Australia it is still allowed

At 12:09 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi ange, here, here!!!


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