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Delia Speaks Out (Daily Mirror 16th February 2008)

Delia Smith has blasted Jamie Oliver's costly organic and free-range produce saying it is more important that poor families can get affordable nutritious food.

The cookery queen, 66, hit out at Jamie, who is paid £1.2million a year as the face of Sainsburys, and Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall for their campaign to eat expensively reared chicken.

Delia, who has sold more than 19 million cook books to Jamie's six million, said: "I don't like the way battery chickens are treated but I am aware there is a lot of poverty in this country among children. I feel that is a disgrace and we have got to make sure everybody gets enough nutritious food in the first

place."

She told Radio 4's Today programme: "If the whole world goes organic then the state of the third world will be twice as bad as it is now.

"And I am much more concerned with people getting enough to eat."

Delia, who has collaborated with Asda over a new range of products inspired by her recipes, said she was sceptical about "food miles".

She added: "I do love fresh shelled peas that you can buy in the winter from Kenya.

"I'm sorry about the planet and the problems of emissions, but I am also conscious that there are people in Kenya who are getting employment and enough money to bring up their children from that produce." Asked if she thought organic food was best, she added: "I don't do organic because I am a cook. I can't get into the politics of food. If I go into a shop and want to buy some beautiful fresh beetroot, I will buy whatever looks the best.

"And if that is organic I might buy it. If it isn't, I will buy that.

Delia's roasting of Jamie came as she launched her new book called How To Cheat At Cooking.

She said: "I just felt we needed a new way of cooking, not for every day but for busy days."

Asda head chef Neil Nugent said: "There's nothing to be ashamed about when it comes to cheating your way to success in the kitchen."