I’ve just come back from a visit to my mate, Henry, and his wife, Beryl. Over a cup of coffee and a discussion about drugs in world athletics, they offered me a brace of rabbits which I gratefully accepted, along with several gargantuan beetroot, a couple of red onions and around two pounds of spuds.
Well chuffed with my gifts, I returned home and plonked the home grown harvest on the table and had a good look. Not only did I feel lucky to have such generous friends, I felt privileged to be able to have immediate access to real food.
All around the UK, there is a profound worry about what we put in our mouth and where it comes from. Consumers are concerned about levels of chemicals and flavourings and the implications on their family’s health yet sales of convenience foods still rise, kitchen skills are more or less extinct and the idea of being presented with a recently-killed animal and vegetables that still have soil clinging to their roots would have most domestic food preparers running out of their Poggenpohl kitchens screaming.
When I used to keep chickens, it always amazed me how excited city-dwelling friends would get about the fact that these feathered creatures actually laid proper eggs, and conversely, how appalled they were when it was time to cull one because I fancied a bit of home-reared roast chicken. Brought up on supermarket, cling-wrapped and skinned fillets of poultry, they had become so disassociated with the fact that what they were buying had in fact, once been an animal – they found the very idea of killing an animal for meat absolutely barbaric.
People don’t really eat rabbit much nowadays. The reason, I suspect, is because given the size and anatomy of the creature, supermarkets would have to display the whole carcass because filleting it would be an absolute waste of time, money and energy. And can you imagine what squeamish Joe Consumer would do if faced with the skinned carcass of a rabbit in the meat counter at Sainsbury’s? They’d think about Disney’s Thumper and cry depravity.
Health studies show that the closer the food is to its natural state, the better it is for you. Not only that – come the Armageddon – it’ll be the self-sufficient bunny-boilers who will inherit the earth.