Tag Archives: Food…mmmm

Eating what’s good for you: pasture-raised chicken

I’m working on the website for Honeyhill Farm, a small organic farm in the Fingerlakes region of upstate New York. Fred (the farmer) and I have been working on adding new content to the website, with more information about the farm’s products (garlic, chicken, beef, heirloom tomatoes and other vegetables) as well as new recipes and photos of the farm.

This morning I’m working on the chickens page. They raise organic, pastured chickens. While doing some research on this farming method, I came across this page on the Weathertop Farm website which explains what happens to conventionally grown chickens. I knew some of this — the de-beaking, the cramped quarters, the use of hormones and antibiotics, etc. I prefer not to think about the chicken I eat living in chicken poop, but Berry still poops in diapers and we wipe her off and still think her little bottom is cute, so I can deal with it.

However, then I got to this description:

According to Joel Salatin, the original pastured poultry guru who spent time as an investigative journalist, about 9 percent of the weight on most chickens bought in the grocery store is fecal material or “soup” soaked up from the chill tank where chickens are stored after processing. To deal with this health hazard, the carcasses are given up to 40 chlorine baths as well as treatments such as irradiation.

(Excuse me while I hurl.) Two things: chickens soaking in fecal material soup and chlorine baths. Really? I’m not sure which disgusts me more — the poop soup or the chlorine to get rid of it. We’re a chlorine-free household here. No extra dioxins for us, thanks. I even stopped buying baby carrots after I read they get dipped in chlorine. (Confession: I’m not great at buying non-chlorine-bleached paper products, Kevin is very specific about the thickness of his toilet paper.)

I think I’m done buying conventionally-raised chicken at Wegmans. Which sucks because we like to eat chicken breast and all the locally-grown organic chickens I’ve found all come whole (and often frozen). I’m not a huge fan of playing with raw chicken meat, but I do know how to cut up a bird — which is an option if I can find it fresh, chop it up and freeze it myself.

I have another confession, though, and I feel guilty saying this: it’s going to take some getting used to. I’ve eaten healthy, pasture-raised chicken from Honeyhill Farm and Heiden Valley Farms and it really does taste different than conventionally-raised chicken. And I don’t know if there’s something wrong with my texture-sensor and tastebuds or if I’m just used to eating poop soup marinated chicken, but I kinda like the icky stuff better.

Oh well, I managed to eat all the leeks from the CSA this winter so clearly I can manage to adjust.

How to peel a hard boiled egg – use your hands

My mum sent me a link to the “Four Hour Work Week” guy peeling a hard boiled egg by blowing through a hole in the top. It sounded very interesting.

I buy free range organic eggs, usually directly from the farmers (rather than the supermarket). Their yolks are so rich they’re almost orange, they taste delicious and they’re very fresh. Being very fresh makes them hard to peel. So any technique that will help me retain the most egg — instead of the outer layer of white staying stuck to the shell — sounds good to me.

Of course, I had to immediately try this out. We had 4 eggs left in the fridge, so egg salad sandwiches for lunch it was.

I put the eggs in cold water and set it to boil. I then promptly went back to whatever work I was doing and forgot about them until the sitter reminded me. Not to worry. I turned them off, put them into cold water and added some baking soda.

A few minutes later, we all gathered around as I attempted to make little holes in either end and blow the egg out of it’s shell.

No go.

I assure you that I blew well and hard. I created suction around the top of the egg (and got little bits of shell in my mouth. Yum). The egg did separate a little from the shell. But they didn’t pop out like in the video.

Oh well. They were much easier to peel the regular way, though (with your fingers). It’s the baking soda that does that trick — and a tip I will remember for every subsequent hard boiled egg I make. So I learned something useful after all.