We have eaten free range chicken for a long while now, originally swapping over for the better taste and promise of less antibiotic use, and then staying firmly planted in the free range corner after watching the TV series Hugh’s Chicken Run where we actually saw the differences in chicken farming styles. We also choose to buy free range eggs for similar reasons. So I am not so sure why we all found it so funny when my Mum declared that the ham we were eating on Christmas day was ‘happy ham!’ Happy ham became the dinner table joke, as in ‘Can you please pass me the happy ham?,’ which doesn’t actually sound that funny if you weren’t there (for the record, we were also eating happy turkey but that just doesn’t have the same alliterative ring to it)
Happy ham is, of course, free range ham. Ham that we buy in good confidence with the belief that the animal has been raised in the most humane manner possible, that it has had a good and happy life before making its way to our dinner table. Ham (and chicken and eggs and turkey) that is always more expensive to buy. Something that we do struggle with, being that we live on one fulltime wage.
My view is that, yes, it is more expensive per item but there are ways around that. We make do with less meat in our meals. Or we buy different cuts which are cheaper, for example, at our supermarkets whole free range chickens are often on special whereas free range chicken breasts are less likely to be. So we buy the whole chicken and work around it. We also try to save money on other areas of our shopping – like making our own cleaning products and growing some of our own vegetables. Little things which might make a small difference but allow the scales to balance when it comes to the end of the pay period. Little things which allow us to eat free range wherever possible.
Did you eat happy ham on Christmas Day? What are your thoughts on buying free range? Is the additional cost justified and what are your tips for eating free range on a limited budget?