ALTHOUGH I knew before reading Toni Vernelli's graphic and heartrending letter (Spare the turkey, Letters, December 18) that these things went on, I found it difficult to accept how low we have sunk (consumers as well as retailers) in the quest for cheap food.

Why are people happy to pay thousands for holidays, clothes, beauty aids, flash cars and the latest gadgets, but are so reluctant to pay a reasonable price for what they eat, in order to allow living creatures bred to feed us to spend their lives in as natural, comfortable, clean and humane conditions as possible?

The lives of so many are short, unnatural and cruel. They suffer to put food on our tables and money into the pockets of those who breed them and those who sell them as cheaply as possible.

There are farmers whose stock is allowed to live the way nature intended, and when they are killed, it is as close to home and as humanely as possible. But these charge more for their meat and poultry, whereas supermarkets cut what they pay their suppliers as far as they dare, so how can those suppliers ensure their animals are well-treated?

I would like to think that Toni's sad description of the existence of the unfortunate Christmas turkeys puts some people off their dinners, but I doubt it.

As long as living creatures are treated as commodities, as long as people turn a blind eye to their comfort and begrudge a reasonable price for food, animals, birds and fish continue to suffer. When are we going to get our priorities right? I see nothing wrong in killing animals for food - what is important is the life they lead, and the manner of their death.

Heather Causnett, Escrick Park Gardens, Escrick, York.