Britain’s farmers should make sure they are in tonight (Thursday, 29 January). Switch on to Channel 4 at 9pm and you’ll see one of the best bits of free publicity the industry has ever seen. Even if you aren’t a pig farmer it will make fascinating viewing.
As part of its Great British Food Fight series Channel 4 is screening Jamie Saves Our Bacon – a 90-minute programme which explores why Britain’s pig farmers are going out of business and what can be done to support them.
We want to hear your views on the show and how the subject was handled. Join us on FWi tonight (29 January) to share your thoughts through a live chat session. You can also add comments to our forum thread on the issue.
The show, which has been produced with the help of pig producers and organisations such as the National Pig Association, is very sympathetic as far as the UK industry is concerned.
It highlights that sow stalls are widely used throughout Europe but have been banned in Britain for years.
It notes that only 1% of UK pigs are castrated (usually on organic or rare-breed farms where pigs are slower growing) while in Europe 99% of male pigs are castrated.
The end result is that a staggering 70% of the pork products sold in Britain contain pork that has been farmed in a way that is illegal here.
Jamie also looks at how our food labelling system is leaving customers who want to “buy British” confused.
He names and shames some key government departments who are failing to support British farmers in the way they should.
And, at a time when shoppers are feeling the pinch, he cooks some cheap, but tasty, cuts of pork to feed a family on a budget.
There are some uncomfortable moments. Watching a piglet have its tail docked or an animal being slaughtered doesn’t make pleasurable viewing.
There will also be some in the industry who object to pork reared on indoor slats being referred to as “bog-standard”. And the segment entitled Pig Brother involving TV actress Joanna Lumley is probably best ignored.
But if you look at the programme in the round, the message is incredibly positive.
Shoppers are told very directly to buy pork products only if they carry the Quality Standard Mark, Red Tractor or Freedom Food label.
They are also urged to give supermarkets grief if they find the shelves stocked with Danish bacon, rather than British.
Will it change things? Time will tell. But the industry should be grateful for Jamie’s efforts. After all, Sainsbury’s has to pay him £1m/yr to front its TV advertising campaign. The pig industry has got something similar for free.
- Jamie Saves Our Bacon, Channel 4, 9pm