Chicken and Two Veg

I'm generally a vegetarian. Or let me put it this way - my food of choice is vegetarian, but I will eat meat if I have to (just not red meat). I've stuck to chicken mainly - and wherever possible free-range chicken (as I try to with free-range eggs).

But I haven't really given much in-depth thought as to what exactly is going down in the chicken-farming industry.

Until I watched this series: Hugh's Chicken Run. If you can get your hands on it, please do watch it. It's a complete eye-opener.

I know it only focuses on one aspect of meat production, and that all this and more is happening in getting your steak, your pork chops or your lamb to the table. Meat is very "anonymous", sitting there wrapped in plastic on a styrofoam bed. There's no hint of the shape of the animal it came from - it's just a pile of "stuff". But it has been scientifically proven that a happy animal gives better meat - that an animal that lives and dies well will not only taste better, but will not be passing on all sorts of crazy chemicals to you when you put it in your mouth.

I know we can't change the world. There will always be intensive farming methods that leave animals a lot worse for wear. There will always be those with no conscience when it comes to ethical food production. There will always be those who put profit above product.

And it's not just the chicken.

Do you know where your veggies come from? Last week I saw cherries in the shops. It certainly isn't cherry season here - not for a good few months. Which means those are imports and chewed up some of the atmosphere getting here. I have no idea where they were grown.

Same thing for most veg - they end up looking nothing like the plants they come from, lying under plastic on a styrofoam bed - just like their meaty cousins on our tables. Most are no longer seasonal - you'll get tomatoes in winter just as easily as in summer (although perhaps at a greater price).

Having your own veg garden isn't for everyone, but you can bet your local small grocer is sourcing things much closer to home than the huge chains. If you're lucky, you may even have a farmer's market nearby.

Knowing where your food comes from is only the first step - knowing what goes into it is the next. With veggies, it's sometimes anyone's guess. There's the old "genetically modified" argument, there's the pesticides and fertilizers - all indications of an unhealthy farming practice that relies more on artificial growing conditions than naturally-produced anything.

Ideally, we should all be eating local, organic food - whether that's fruit, veg or meat. We should know how it got to our tables and what went into making it grow (up). Convenience shopping puts paid to that when you're not eating mindfully.

But today this vegetarian is on a one-chick ('scuse the pun) mission - urging you to think about your food and where it comes from.