Animal Rights Advanced by Popular Chef

Jamieoliver.jpg Easily the most provocative article in yesterday's New York Times, "Chef's New Goal: Looking Dinner in the Eye" describes the surprise Jamie Oliver (pictured left with Seattle chef, Tamara Murphy, in the New York Times) recently served up:

LAST Friday, in front of 4 million television viewers and a studio audience, the chef Jamie Oliver killed a chicken. Having recently obtained a United Kingdom slaughterman’s license, Mr. Oliver staged a “gala dinner,” in fact a kind of avian snuff film, to awaken British consumers to the high costs of cheap chicken.

“It only costs a bit more to give a chicken a natural life and a reasonably pleasant death,” he told the champagne-sipping audience before he stunned the chicken, cut an artery inside its throat, and let it bleed to death, all in accordance with British standards for humane slaughter.

Although he was immediately both praised and attacked by animal rights groups, supermarkets across the U.K. sold out of free-range eggs and chicken within hours of the broadcast.

Oliver's impact isn't dissimilar from that created by filmanthropist Jeff Skoll's production of 'The Inconvenient Truth' which vaulted global warming to the forefront of public dialogue. Folks like Paul Hawken argue -- in his book "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming” -- that what Gore did couldn't have happened without the ground work laid by for more than two decades by environmental activists. I'm not convinced.

Donors who really want to make impact are no longer limited to the nonprofit sector, nor should they be. While Oliver and his crew raise awareness, social entreprenuers will need to swoop in and rapidly amplify the capacity of farmers throughout the world who are willing to respond. Oliver notes that while it is more expensive, methods are widely available for ensuring that the farm animals we eat are raised humanely and killed without fear.

After reading the article, my pesto sandwich with "natural" (?) chicken from Au Bon Pain, didn't go down quite so smoothly.

Susan Herr

Posted at 9:11 AM, Jan 17, 2008 in Cross-Sectoral Strategies | Environment | Global Philanthropy | Philanthropic Strategy | Social Entreprenuers | Permalink | Comments (1)


That's not animal rights. Anyone truly interested in animal rights would never kill an animal to make a point.

Posted by: Elaine Vigneault