Channel 4 has made two big, meat-based moves as the broadcaster looks to position itself in a changing broadcast media market. It has commissioned Meat the Family (working title), according to TBI Vision, in which four families will raise animals over three hour-long episodes, before deciding whether to send them to “sanctuary” (after which they will ... Die?) or for slaughter. It has also invested seven figures in U.K. vegan fake meat company Meatless Farm, in exchange for a regional advertising deal, according to The Drum.
Meat the Family’s premise is new for a whole show, but not new in the realms of food TV: Gordon Ramsay did a similar pig rearing experiment on The F Word, in which the shouty chef and his family raised two pigs for slaughter. Ramsay cried afterwards. The new show comes from Spun Gold TV, whose managing director Daniela Neumann said:
In this series we confront some really timely themes of ethical eating in a unique and entertaining fashion. Why do we find it acceptable to eat a lamb but we wouldn’t eat our pet dog? Could you go back to meat once you’ve put a name and face to a meal? This is a series that will combine amazing research about animal intelligence with some heart-warming moments.
The first of those questions appears to have an answer not fit to make an entire TV series, but the world will see; what is interesting is a show directly asking meat eaters to face questions about provenance and the mechanics of meat production, rather than taking the “all meat is bad” line. Anything that reduces disconnect from the realities of food systems is, it would be hoped, doing good work — but the show’s mechanics will raise questions that need answering. How much space, light, and ‘freedom’ do animals raised in a back garden actually have, compared to widely used farming welfare standards?
More interesting perhaps is a broadcaster that has regularly positioned itself as a risky, mischievous, and alternative outfit investing so heavily in a movement whose growth is largely bound up in tech unicorns like Beyond Meat and Impossible Burger, which are currently reliant on venture capital and large partnerships with fast food corporations: corporations the likes of which Channel 4 has previously highlighted as promoting zero hours contracts. Meatless Farm recently inked a deal to supply Wholefoods in the U.S.A., just before the FDA ruled Impossible Burger’s key ingredient, heme, to be safe for consumption, putting it into a fight it had likely not expected would come so soon. This investment — and the advertising clout that comes with it — is U.K. only for now, however.
There is no date for release as yet. More soon.