There’s a growing awareness of food safety in China. People in the cities are coming to realise that much of their food is produced in factory farms, with all the welfare and environmental drawbacks. It’s taken some pretty horrendous incidents for this cultural shift to start happening; year after year, there have been serious food safety scandals, such as the recent contamination of milk with melamine, which caused serious health effects in young children. Like elsewhere, parents in China are keen to ensure their child gets the very best and safest food.
The connection between how farm animals are kept and the quality and safety of the resulting food is starting to be recognised in China. It provides us with a real foot in the door to help promote less intensive farming in this, the most populous country on Earth.
In the shadow of Beijing, I arrived at a place called ‘Little Donkey’; a model farm project run by World Animal Protection (previously known as World Society for the Protection of Animals – WSPA) and the Food Animal Initiative (FAI).
About 1,000 chickens are free ranging in pine woodland on the farm. The chickens are a dual purpose breed, producing eggs as well as being sold for chicken meat. It was great to see birds dust-bathing, scratching, perching, nesting, running and flapping; doing all the things that makes life worthwhile for these busy, inquisitive creatures.
Pigs too are kept here; reared on deep-bedded compost that allows these intelligent animals to root around and enjoy comfortable bedding. It’s a system that could be used on a large scale. It provides an alternative animal-friendly model to intensive pig farming.
Having seen some of the biggest, most intensive pig farms in the world here in China, at least this visit proved that an alternative is possible. Take a look at our exclusive footage, sponsored by World Animal Protection (previously known as World Society for the Protection of Animals – WSPA), to see what I saw….
To get your copy of ‘Farmageddon: The true cost of cheap meat’, click here.