How Happy Was Your Christmas Ham?

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?

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  1. Our ham was indeed happy ham. And it was delicious too. Mt Gnomon ham – probably the best I’ve tasted (shameless plug, I like the people who run Mt Gnomon Farm a lot). We also had free range ethical duck :-)

  2. As a vegetarian surrounded by meat eaters, the only option I feel comfortable with is free range. In a perfect world (LOL) my whole family would be vego but that is not the case and I only buy meat for them which I feel is ethical so Christmas for the meat eaters was free range pork (plantaganet, I think?) Hopefully in the future my boys will make the choice to be vego themselves but if they don’t at least there are some good options out there – totally worth the extra cost to know the animal was ‘happy’!

  3. The Happy Ham we bought to share at your table was sliced in the deli section as we could not find any whole Christmas leg ham that was free range. But it was indeed beautiful ham, and I too trust that when it is labelled Free Range it does indeed mean that the pigs have been treated humanly. More people need to ask for free range so that more is offered within the market place.

  4. I love it! We are enjoying eating a bit more wisely these days, too! We have free range chickens and a calf named Cheeseburger grazing our back yard.
    I did a neat experiment with my free range eggs. You might enjoy checking it out. I have also written about our grass fed, happy little cow.
    Here are a few links you might enjoy.

  5. I too am hopeful that as more people seek out free range products, they will become more affordable and more readily available as a choice.

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