Why Did The Chicken Cross The Border?

by Einar Du Rietz

…to be eaten in another country. If it is the border to Belgium however, it’s (the Hemingway version): To die. In the Rain.

A friend of mine used to keep hens in her backyard in Liège. This in order to get fresh eggs every morning. This was her choice and though running a small farm in the middle of a city must be burdensome, everyone was happy, probably also the birds who had a much better life than their colleagues.

Locally produced is an interesting concept, and very propular. But it should be a matter of taste.

Firstly, it’s got little or anything to do with the environment. If you decide to feast on Argentinian steak in Germany, which used to be popular, your steak has not come their in a private aircraft, and the import contributes a bit to the wealth, and thus resources for environmental work in Argentina. Likewise, the people of New York who (I guess until it became politically incorrect) could order same day delivery from famous bakeries in Vienna, did not get their pastries on otherwise empty Concords (the Concorde was in the ad’, but at the time it could only cross the Atlantic from London and Paris to the American East Coast).

Still, the entire issue tends to be symbolic and pardoxal at the same time. The same people who take a pride in, and sometimes claim safety issues, only eating meat from their own country, indulge happily when on holiday. In border areas it’s natural to make your purchases on the best side.

The advertising however, can sometimes get annoying. Especially when your local grocery store is basically out of anything but the Eco products you are supposed to pay a premium for. “Home Made”? Who’s home? “Grandmother’s Ginger Snappers”? Who’s Grandmother? Not mine in any case. At least I hope so.

This said, most people probably agree that local food markets are at least charming and give you the feeling that you are buying higher quality. And often you are. Sadly, in small villages, especially those mostly living on revenues from summer residents, business is getting harder. Along the coasts, sometimes the fish lady and the local grocer are forced to keep prices at high levels and often quality at a lower, to stay alive. One idea I always tend to present to the latter is to – really – focus on locally produced. Meat and eggs from the nearby farms. Both because it’s a good thing to keep the community alive, and because the quality is often better. And on top, the summer visitors will think it’s picturesque. If locals still refuse to eat anything from the other side of the fence, or happily take the car to the nearest super market, is of course something that varies all over Europe.

And you still have that third option. Catching your own fish and preparing it according to your own recepie gives immense pleasure. Hunters tell me it’s basically the same feeling for them.

A Happy Easter, with or without eggs.


About the Author: Einar Du Rietz

Einar Du Rietz is a journalist and communications consultant based in Europe. He has authored several environmental reports for the Electrolux Group and written many blogs for the Center for the New Europe at CNE Environment.