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Well? Can a turkey fly?

Date Published: 15/12/2010

The answer is ‘yes and no’. They can get off the ground, but they won’t be clearing off to South Africa to enjoy the winter sun any time soon.

Cartoon of a turkey pondering the nearby chopping block...But it was questions such as these that dragged some revealing answers out of 3,000 respondents to a survey by the NFU. Apparently one in five people did think turkeys could fly (I mean really fly) and one in ten thought they actually originated from Turkey.

Those of us who know our creatures and countryside can have a giggle for a moment at results such as these – and then probably shake our heads at the lamentable lack of knowledge even in a pretty highly educated country such as the UK.

Of course we might actually be part of the problem. Because we take such knowledge of all things, poultry, bovine, porcine, etc for-granted, perhaps we don’t stop and think often enough about how we could be passing that on. Or, at least, not enough of us do.

There are some great programmes underway around the country to get school kids on to farms, and we’re not just talking about the inner city kids who might have never seen a real sheep; this activity also has value for youngsters from rural schools and communities. They might be surrounded by cows and fields, but that doesn’t mean someone has taken the time to explain the food chain to them.

A lot of this educational work is being led by charities, such as Farming and Countryside Education (FACE). They, in turn, often work with businesses, some of them huge brand names. It’s not a huge stretch of the imagination to see how this work can trickle down the supply chain and individual farm and food processors can add their weight to the effort. In most areas of the country there are farmers and food heroes doing this work already and you can bet they would be more than willing to bring more people into their circle.

When I was talking to some of our organic turkey producers recently the news was all good. They were basically sold out and focusing on shifting the last of the ducks and maybe a few geese.

If we want to see that pattern continue we have to make sure that the next generation do not assume their turkey comes out of a Tesco factory, rather than a field. If they care that it came from a British (maybe organic?) farm, rather than a shed in Brazil, we will have succeeded on so many levels.

If they go on to care about where all of the meat comes from, all year round, we will have secured the future of British Farming.