The Chicken Out! team are going out and about on a tour of a number of UK cities over the 39 days spanning between 10th August and 17th September. The tour will last the same amount of days as a broiler house chicken lives, from the day of hatching to the day they are shipped to the supermarket shelves.
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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Chicken Out! Campaign has turned their attention to the power of Britain’s MPs, asking them to show support for fairer labelling of british supermarket chickens. Hugh has famously been campaigning for better conditions and clearer labelling for standard chickens supplied in supermarkets, and a number of TV programmes have shown his progress as well as the problems he has come up against, from results of revised labelling of standard chicken sold by the Co-operative, to the very unco-operative Tesco.
The latest push for Chicken Out! is to propose an Early Day Motion, which is a formal motion submitted for debate in the House of Commons that MPs can show support for by signing. EDM 581 aims to highlight the issue of chicken welfare and bring about a change in law regarding labelling of chicken sold in supermarkets. Head of Campaigns at Compassion in World Farming, Lasse Bruun has commented,
“We’re delighted that there is an Early Day Motion calling for honest labelling of chicken meat. Unfortunately supermarkets are getting away with misleading labels while the consumers are increasingly concerned about where our food comes from.”
To date, 168 MPs, that’s 25% of MPs across the UK, have shown their support for chickens by signing the Early Day Motion. Hugh is asking the British public to push their local MPs to do the same by adding their signatures to the list. You can find out whether your MP has signed the EDM on the Chicken Out! website and help the campaign reach their 300 signature target.
Three weeks ago Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall launched a competition to inspire the creative side of followers of his famous Chicken Out! campaign, and last week the panel of judges which included Hugh himself, and representatives from Compassion in World Farming chose their winner.
Hugh has been urging Tesco to live up to their claims about welfare issues regarding their standard chicken, trying methods such as telephone conversations, face to face interviews and even becoming a shareholder to get the multi-million pound supermarket chain to take his campaign seriously. Having hit many barriers along the way, Hugh turned to his fellow chicken welfare supporters to show that customers as well as campaigners care about chicken welfare and threw down the gauntlett to design a new label that accurately depicts the environment these chickens are raised in.
The winning design from Debbie Cripps shows an image of a broiler house; hundreds of chickens packed into a dark shed with barely room to move, the title ‘Intensively Reared Chicken’ splashed across the top of the label, and the text beneath the image giving a more accurate description of where the chickens are raised. Hugh said his reason for choosing this design is because of its ‘transparency and fairness’, and went on to say “This design is a stark contrast from the outdoor image and misleading wording that currently appears on the Tesco standard chicken label.”
The new label design has been presented to Tesco with the aim that they will introduce this clearer, more accurate description of the product on sale. Only time will tell whether they will take on board the feedback from customers and campaigners, or Chicken Out!?
The National Trust has announced that over the course of the next three years, they will be working to provide 1000 new allotment sites to help eager growers get digging to provide themselves with homegrown goodness. Sites will range from smaller plots for individuals or families just getting started to larger areas suitable for community growing groups, schools and charities.
The allotment sites will be made available through the Landshare scheme set up by River Cottage Chef and Chicken Welfare Campaigner, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which helps wannabe growers get in touch with people in their local area with spare land. The National Trust wants to help some of the 100,000 people currently on waiting lists for allotment sites to get growing, and hope that the land freed up by this new initiative will make growing your own a reality for many new gardeners.
As well as making new growing spaces available, The National Trust wants to recruit more volunteers and experienced gardeners to help the scheme by bringing knowledge and advice to those who are new to the world of veg growing.
So whether it’s the current economic situation and the subsequent tightening of purse strings that has triggered the increase in interest for allotments and homegrown veg, or because people have had enough of not knowing what chemicals their food contains, there is no arguing; thanks to The National Trust, the introduction of these new sites will be a real boost to the communities and people using them.
What with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recent series transforming a piece of derelict land in a Bristol estate into a miniature urban smallholding, and the increasing price of food showing no signs of slowing, growing your own food is becoming an ever more attractive proposition. And what better way to do it than with an allotment?