Posted By: David Waywell
8th March 2019
Hate to take sides but agree with Tim’s reaction on chlorinated chicken. No one asserts that chlorine washing chicken is dangerous to the consumer, not even the EU. The reason it is banned is that the EU believes that it covers up poor standards of hygiene during the processing stage. Of all the dubious arguments used either for or against Brexit, this one is right up there with blue passports on the leave side. So many better sticks to beat Brexit with for those who are inclined to do so.
While some people have been keen to rubbish US farming standards it’s worth remembering our own record on farming . For example, since 1996 we have been consuming British beef that was banned in the EU (until 2006), USA (till 2016), China (till 2018) and Japan (until January this year.). Like the Americans, we have maintained that it is perfectly safe.
The conditions that chickens are raised in for meat production are appalling on both sides of the Atlantic, but we favour cheap meat over welfare. Pretending to care about animal welfare while consuming six week old chicks kept at a density of around sixteen birds per metre is for those who have perfected squaring circles. For context, when I am advising new domestic chicken keepers on the density for adult laying birds (which are roughly the same size as broiler chicks) I say anything less than two square meters per bird is inviting trouble. Should US chicken ever appear on the shelves of UK supermarkets, which I doubt, it will be labeled as a product of USA and consumers can then choose.
I’ve picked on a marginal point in the podcast because it interests me generally, having kept and bred chickens for a decade now.
Meh. I agree. Not a battle worth fighting, though the only reason I mentioned it was an article I read last week. (Driving me crazy looking for it and I’ll search again.)
I understand the argument is about conditions (and one on which experts seem hugely divided) but the essential point I was making, using that only as an example, is that it’s indicative of the weakness of our negotiating position that comes about from being a single nation rather than a trading block.
I know what you’re saying, but equally you could say that as part of the EU we have been unable to get any deal with the USA precisely because we are part of a bloc with competing interests. As part of the EU you have 1/28th of a say in a powerful bloc rather than full control in a less powerful entity. It can sometimes work in your favour, sometimes not. I’ll give you an example of how it can work the other way. Remember the ruckus over steel tariffs?, the EU responded by threatening a series of their own tariffs among which Bourbon was included. Had that escalated the US would have slapped tariffs on Whiskey in retaliation. The problem for the UK is that our Whiskey exports are way higher than our steel exports to the USA. The UK would then becomes a victim of protecting other nations exports but have to suck it up in the name of unity. As an independent we could simply have ignored the steel tariffs which were insignificant to our economy.
The question to ask I suppose is whether you believe countries like Canada, Japan, S Korea, Australia and Switzerland suffer inherently from having a lack of leverage compared to EU members. I don’t think they do myself but I’m sure an argument could be made. One thing I do think we need to lose is this “5th biggest economy in the world” conceit, it’s a paper figure that will count for precious little going forward.
Myself, I’d rather have a 1/28th say in the world’s most powerful trading block than just be one out of 195 countries. But I’m not going to argue Brexit. My mood is dark enough today as it is. I also beginn to think this gas a lot to do with outlook. I do not believe nor do I like Farage, Banks, Mogg, or Galloway and could not fight in their corners even if I did. I despise what they stand for and the attitudes the espouse. Given that both Leave and Remain might each be a mistake, I’m much happier choosing Remain which, as far as I can see, would be a mistake made for sound moral reasons rather than the other side’s ridiculous myths about nationhood. Chlorinated chicken might be no worse for you than unchlorinated chickens but, actually, the more I think about it, I’d like to eat chickens that have been reared properly (yes, humanely) and not salvaged at the last minute by dunking them in chlorine. It’s like this current story doing the rounds about a return to eggs from battery-caged chickens. Yes, they might still be eggs but these things do matter to me. Like so much of the rhetoric coming from the right, they seem to think it’s actually a bad thing being humane, broad-minded, and generally optimistic about human progress. Hmm… Now I am arguing Brexit, which I said I wouldn’t do. And I might be completely wrong about all of it. Yet, sod it. In so far as so much of this is unknowable, I’m happy to make my judgements based on what I can know.
Not sure if you are aware that you are doing it, but you’re preaching morality about eggs and chickens to someone who rears his own birds in the best conditions possible to produce eggs and meat for his own consumption. So yes as a matter of fact it does matter to me. You said you’re in a bad mood and to be honest I think you are too emotionally invested when it comes Brexit. So I’m letting you off whether you like it or not.
The choice isn’t about eating chickens which have been reared humanely, neither system does that, one system washes them in chlorine to (unnecessarily in my view) kill germs that cooking kills anyway. The consumer can choose, just as they could choose to eat free range chicken now, but don’t. I won’t even bother going into the stuff about eggs, but I’ve taken a number of “ex-batts” from farms and what passes for the new “humane” conditions really are not, but hey do you want eggs and meat that cost twice the price? because that is what it would take.
The Farage et al argument is deeply flawed as I’m sure you know. If Farage, Mogg and Galloway changed sides and supported remain, then would you support Brexit because you couldn’t stand in their corner?. I’m sure you’re no fan of Osborne, Campbell and the big money of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs either. If I checked who was on my side of any particular argument and abstained if I didn’t like them then I wouldn’t hold a view on anything at all. And for the record I don’t like any of the people you mentioned either.
I’m not at all emotionally invested in Brexit at all. I do my best to ignore it because, as I keep saying, I’ve never really believed we’d be dumb enough to go through with it. I’ve argued for the past year that the problems it raises would be irreconcilable and we’d find a way to avoid it. I also have enough problems at the moment without even thinking about the flustercuck that’s to come if it does go through, or even to restate my point, which had nothing to do with how you raise your own chickens but how others do… In fact, nothing of that was aimed at you. It’s aimed at the people who would open up the UK to the kind of market forces that have increasingly proved counterproductive in recent years.
But Brexit is something we’ll never agree on. I think it’s a dumb move, led by deeply untrustworthy people who have used nationalism to stir cheap emotions in order to lead this nation down the wrong path. I’m not going to change my mind as I’m sure you won’t change yours. You think I’m wrong and I’m open minded enough to acknowledge that might be the case.
As for those characters changing their minds… If they did become Remainers, I’d still dislike them intensely. I don’t dislike them because they are Leavers and aren’t on my side. I dislike them because I find them to be intensely dislikable extremists, preaching politics I find morally repugnant. Brexit, for all the professed good that you and others have cogently argued it will make possible, has also unleashed something that is none of those things. That doesn’t mean everybody who voted Leave has views I find morally repugnant. It just means, to paraphrase Will Self from last week, many people whose politics I do find morally repugnant did vote for Leave. There are people I like and admire who are Leavers (yourself included). I’ve just never heard an argument that has changed my mind. In fact, my views have hardened the closer we’ve got to Leaving.
If that wasn’t aimed at me then fair enough. The bit about “chlorinated chicken might be no worse for you.”. followed closely by “I’d like to eat chickens that have been properly reared” inferred it to me, but if it wasn’t meant that way then fine.
I only mentioned Brexit in the OP at all as that is the reason the subject of chickens has been raised, I did try to keep to the narrow point and stay away from the subject as I fully understand people are now entrenched. I don’t think you’re wrong, I just don’t agree with you, which is subtly different.
I look at the world through different eyes and perhaps place a greater emphasis on people being allowed to choose. I don’t feel I have the right to tell other people what they can or can’t shove down their cake holes. Provided food is properly labelled it should be up to the individual. Alternatives will always be available provided there is a market for them.
I honestly don’t know enough about you or your chickens to make a comment and, if I did, I would usually be polite enough not to make an issue of it, irrespective of my mood (and yesterday was a very dark day inside my head).
What nuance you picked up was, rather, me being relective of my earlier capitulation on the point of chlorinated chicken. After reading a few articles about it, I simply realised that I think I do think it’s an issue. I prefer the EU way of doing things to the US way.
The thing about giving people freedom: I’ve always held that view but in recent years I’ve come to realise that it’s another place where the free market doesn’t treat us fairly, especially around the really cheap food products, where I do most of my shopping.
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