Monday, December 03, 2007

Well folks,

Here's Part II of Meeting the Meat. Last time, we were going to our friendly farmer to procure some of his beefalo.

For Thanksgiving, we had black-skinned chickens (very medicinal), grown by Chang, our friendly farmer. She grow veggies organically and sells them at the Brown Farmers' Market, and the chickens also run around her farm and get to eat old and expired veggies as well as whatever bugs and grubs they find. Apparently, it's the bugs and worms that give the chicken a nice Omega-3 profile, a huge advantage over non free range chickens (even if fed organic feed). Her chickens also make a broth that yields a lot of gelatin, which contains a lot of micronutrients that we often miss in our diets. Koreans love bone broths, even add hooves and things for extra gelatin. But when's that last time you saw someone (your grandma, maybe?) make chicken broth that didn't come out of a can or an aseptic-pack? You need your gel. (n.b. if you cook up a cheapo factory-farm chicken for stew and you won't get too much gel, either.)

Her chickens are very happy (until she starts chasing them with a net) at least as much as my anthropomorphizing mind thinks they are. I couldn't help her kill them (former vegetarian) but I did help her clean them (see photographic evidence). Watching the bird die also makes one so much more grateful. I made sure not to waste a thing. She even cleaned out the stomach so we could throw it in the soup, along with feet, head, etc.

Some of my inlaws complained that my participating in the killing of the chicken was mean, while they were okay with the prophylactic ingestion of an industrially raised turkey they'd cooked the night before. I think if we all participated in more in where our food comes from, meet our meat, we'd demand better treatment for the animals, and we'd get better, safer, more nutritious food. While we were there, we also got a dozen unwashed eggs gfresh from the chicken's butts--they look poopy and smeary and horrify people when they see them. But they are actually cleaner than the bleached and salmonella-y eggs you get at the supermarket (you just don't see the debeaked chickens sitting in s*** and so sick they need tons of antibiotics), and the yolks are an unbelievable color--the pathogens grow when you have dirty factorylike cages. Chang's chickens get plenty of light and air and they get to run around in the daytime like chickens are meant to. We can leave these eggs out unrefrigerated for week and they stay fresh, and we eat them raw, all the time. Of course, it took me a while to get here; I used to be a "sanitation" nut before...

Hm, maybe that's why my inlaws came into the house bearing McDonald's bags. We each have distinctly different ideas on which food is "safer" and "clean." Comments?

Here's an article from the WashPost on how while we subsidize the hell out of industrial farms for icky crops like GMO corn, the government makes regulations so onerous that organic farmers are having a hard time: Bitter Harvest for Small Farms


Unknown said...

My mother always made chicken soup from scratch and it is to this day, the best chicken soup I have ever had. Sounds like you had a great feast, your relatives are missing out with their mcfakinfood.

I'm just hopping around and found your blog! I'm enjoying it!

be well, Kara

Anonymous said...

Hi Marie,

Very cool! I want to "Meet my meat" too! My accu doctor always spoke of this "gel". I didn't really understand what he was talking about until you explained it so clearly. I think he knew I was coming from a veggy-ish background so didn't want to overwhelm me. Still, I've been pretty much doing the grass-fed/ pasture raised thing eversince, when I can. Yes, it's the bugs! This is why the b.s. "free range" that we see in so many markets is crap. Free range, meaning crammed up chickens in a barn that have access to a tiny plot of the outdoors that they never use because they are not accustomed to it.

I have a particular dilemma, however, with meeting my meat. My husband is kosher. However, he has come to learn from me that kosher today is not the kosher of bygone days. Most kosher meat does indeed come from factory farms. So if anyone knows of a good resource of kosher/grass-fed, especially in the new york area, please let me know! As for now, we eat some meals seperately and hubby, more or less has gone off meat.

GreenFertility said...

Hi Ali--

Yes,I used to buy kosher but I noticed it wasn't gelling--that must be why. Chang's chickens make this broth that turns semi solid when you refrige it and surprisingly little fat forms on the top; a whole, free range organic chicken from Whole Foods makes mostly fat on the top, and relatively little gel, but some.

I cook each the same way: 12 hours on low (w/some apple cider vinegar to get the minerals out of the bones--I have to add feet and stuff to the WF chickens), remove meat and skin and save, then add the bones and cartilage back in and simmer 12 hours more. I also throw in whatever veggies I have around--including onions WITH the skin on. Yum!

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