ORGANIC CAMPAIGN PUTS CHRISTMAS TURKEYS UNDER THE MICROSCOPE
Welsh families are being encouraged to do their research before ordering their Christmas turkeys, as part of the latest phase of a national publicity campaign by Organic Centre Wales (OCW).
OCW is inviting consumers to “Treasure our Turkeys” and visit the campaign's Facebook page www.facebook.com/OrganicCentreWales to find out more about the different standards applied to a typical barn-reared turkey, compared to organic, free-range birds that are reared to EU certified standards. The page also features a list of the top organic turkey producers in Wales, as well as some innovative Christmas recipe ideas.
“ Many people will be really surprised to see how different the standards are between organic turkeys and barn-reared birds, which live much shorter lives in incredibly large flocks and are routinely subject to mutilation and intensive treatment with antibiotics,” said Dafydd Owen from Organic Centre Wales. “Organic poultry sales have experienced resurgence in recent years and studies show that this is partly driven by concern about animal welfare. We wanted to remind people that not all turkeys have the same experience before ending up on our plates at Christmas.”
The 2012 Soil Association report showed that 83% of UK households buy at least some organic products, while 23p in every pound spent on fruit and vegetables goes on organically grown produce. Only sales of organic lamb (+16%) have outstripped poultry (+6.6%) and the annual survey also suggests that consumers, as well as schools, hospitals and restaurants, are increasingly buying directly from independent producers through farm gate, online and box schemes.
Over the next month the campaign will be following the fortunes of two turkeys – Organic Owain (@organiccymru) and Barn-Reared Bill (@BarnRearedBill) – as they prepare for their big day. The unlikely pair of birds will be updating the OCW Facebook pages with anecdotes from their very different lives and sharing stories with OCW followers on Twitter and Organic Centre Wales is encouraging people to log on and follow the unfolding story.
“In the past six months we have featured talking leeks and sheep as part of our campaign, so tweeting turkeys was just a natural progression,” suggests Dafydd Owen. “It is obviously a humorous approach but there are serious messages about animal welfare and sustainability behind it.”
Duncan Barham is head chef at The Gove in Narberth which won GOLD for Best Restaurant in the 2011-12 Wales the True Taste Food & Drink Awards and a supporter of the “Treasure our Turkeys” campaign. He explains: “Where it is available we always buy organic and have our own kitchen garden that we are in the process of achieving organic certification for. We are big supporters of local and artisan-type producers and find that organic producers tend to be really passionate about what they do, which means we just love dealing with them.”
A renewed debate has also been sparked in the farming press about whether the routine treatment of barn-reared poultry with antibiotics as a preventative measure (this practice is not permitted under organic standards) is increasing the resistance of so-called 'super-bugs' that can be harmful to humans. Recent studies show that the use of fluoroquinolones, a family of antimicrobials used to treat camplylobacter, salmonella and E coli, has increased by 70% in the last 10 years, while its use in treating poultry has been banned in the USA, Denmark, Finland and Australia. Click read more to view our interactive PDF read more