Planet Chicken: The Shameful Story of the World's Favourite Bird by Hattie Ellis; The English at Table by Digby Anderson - review by Elisabeth Luard

Elisabeth Luard

What We Eat Is What We Are

Planet Chicken: The Shameful Story of the World's Favourite Bird


Sceptre 320pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

The English at Table


The Social Affairs Unit 151pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

At first glance one might think that Hattie Ellis, author of this frightening tale of Man's inhumanity to bird, and Dr Digby Anderson, a fellow with a talent for setting the fox among the chickens, are unlikely barnyard companions. Yet both put broadly the same argument.

At issue is whether we, consumers of horrible food produced in horrible ways, are prepared to change our habits and pay decent money for food which tastes the way it should. The case for chicken at the buy-one-get-one-free level – 'bogofs' in supermarket-talk – is that cheap meat is protein for the masses and anyone who argues is a toff with more money than sense.

Anderson is a man for the rapier-thrust: 'healthists' are dismissed for their disapproval of everything which actually tastes good (butter and so forth); 'environmentalists' for their desire to eliminate salt cod on the spurious grounds that the cod fisheries are all fished-out, thereby depriving gourmets of their brandade de morue;

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