There’s plenty you could do to make it a more sustainable industry. You could slow the growing time and give birds more room on farms, using less engineered breeds that take 12 weeks, rather than just over a month to reach slaughter weight. That would help curb some of the cruellest aspects of the business, which see densely packed, overbred birds, prone to disease and bacterial infection, collapsing under their own weight. But that would cost more. In the factory you could slow the speed of the lines, so that cross-contamination of carcasses was less likely, and workers’ jobs less relentlessly tough and unpleasant, thus easing the pressure to break hygiene rules and making the sector more attractive to local staff. But that, too, would cost more.
We know roughly how much more, since the top end of organic production already does these things, and a posh chicken from that sort of outlet is three to four times as expensive as a conventional supermarket one. But there are hardly votes in arguing we should pay that much for our chicken. Politicians dare not say it for fear of sounding Marie Antoinette-ish. But the price of cheap is too high, and we should probably be eating something else.
Felicity Lawrence in The Guardian. We should all be paying much more for our food because…..well, actually, because Lady Muck here thinks it’s all too cheap.