Sunday, March 23, 2008

The £15 chicken

Today being Easter, we thought we should have a proper meal. Actually I've been cooking more frequently recently, now I've worked out where the edible food is and how it's packaged (a wander round a Japanese supermarket is a powerful appetite suppressant). But that's another story.

A month or two ago there was a minor kerfuffle in the UK press about the "£2.50 chicken". Various TV celebrity chefs were apparently upset that poor people could afford food that was considered a luxury a few decades back, and said the price should be significantly higher. Tesco promptly responded by dropping their price to £1.99.

Anyway, yesterday I scoured the shelves of the local supermarkets, and found one single solitary lonely chicken for the princely sum of ¥3000 - that is about $30 or £15 in real money!

OK, I realise that the celebs were focussing on animal welfare, and there is probably a genuine debate to be had on that topic, but I don't think that price alone is a good indicator of welfare standards. Given what I have seen of their treatment of pets, let alone how they treat cuddly friendly whales, I very much doubt that Japanese animal welfare standards are that much higher than those in the UK. Instead, the high price is due to Japan being only about 40% self-sufficient in food, and imposing punitive taxes on imports.

Still, it was very tasty. Happy Easter!


C W Magee said...

Those whales are the subjects of careful scientific experiments! Not to be eaten while anybody is watching.

Incidentally, is there a grant application process for whaling "research" that is similar to more traditional oceanography research? I'm curious if there is a starving Japanese oceanographer who lost his postdoc because his grant money went to shoot whales instead.

James Annan said...

Don't think there is any genuine "whaling research funding" that we can apply to in the usual manner. After all, the subsidy is just pork (um...wrong metaphor) for a few villages and their pet politician, and also a political sop to the nationalists. IIRC someone found out that the entire publication list for the "research program" was about 1 internal document or something. But I might have made that last bit up.