Tag Archives: localvore

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.

Feasting from my garden

There’s something so satisfying about cooking dinner with food from my garden.

Dinner bubbling awayDinner tonight – currently bubbling away on the stove — features tilapia (from who knows where) cooked in a tomato and pepper sauce. The tomatoes, red pepper and herbs all come from the garden. The green pepper comes from our CSA (I love getting organic peppers in my bag each week!) and the garlic is from Seven Bridges Farm from the South Wedge Farmer’s Market. The only other seasonings are salt and pepper — I brought back the salt from a trip to France and the pepper is freshly ground from organic black peppercorns.

It will be accompanied by brown rice and broccoli (conventional, both – but at least broccoli is now on the “12 Foods You Don’t Have to Buy Organic” list.)

I’d better get back to dinner, but I snapped a couple of pics with my camera phone.

Peach pieHere’s dessert – home made peach pie. The pastry is an oil pastry recipe and the peaches, while conventionally grown are at least from a local farmer, bought on Saturday morning at Gro-Moore Farms in Henrietta.