I’ve decided to eat less meat (no, I’m not a full on vegetarian…yet) but when I do eat meat, I’d like to know where it comes from and what kind of life it lived. Was he happy chicken who got to run free and wasn’t cooped up in a pen? Was my Thanksgiving turkey free of antibiotics? When you buy meat in the grocery store, it can be really hard to know where it comes from and did you know that ground beef can be sourced from as many as 20 different animals from 3 different countries! Make it your mission to read and understand your labels (even though they can make false claims) and get to know your local butcher so you can ask him/her exactly where the meat comes from.
We recently bought 40 pounds of chicken from a guy my boss knows, who knows a guy who has a farm in Alberta…sounds legit right? Every 6 months or so we get a call from Eddie who asks if we want chickens and how many, then he meets the farmer half way and brings them back to BC. All in a days work. Each bag has 5 or 6 whole chickens, cleaned, plucked and ready to go! They are all Alberta Approved which I was happy about because they have very high standards. The chickens are raised in open-floored barns, grain fed, have continued access to fresh, uncontaminated drinking water (you’d think this is a standard every farm should have!), they are not kept in cages and are free to roam (but are kept in barns to protect them from harsh winters, hot summers, predators and disease), and they are only allowed to raise up to 2,000 chickens a year.These birds were huge! They were the size of the turkey I cooked last Christmas. The biggest one was about 11-12 pounds. I bagged them all separately and froze them except for one which I roasted that night. O.M.G. there was so much meat on these chickens! And you just can’t compare the taste with grocery store meat. There was so much I actually had to freeze some because I knew we could not eat it all between the two of us. I also boiled off the bones with spices, carrots, onion and celery which made an awesome chicken stock that I also froze to make soup with on a cold, rainy day. We also had a couple on the BBQ while my parents were here, check out that post here.
I could go on at length on how important it is to know where your meat comes from. We live in a society where we really do not want to know that we are eating an animal. Think about it. Everything is neatly trimmed and packaged in Styrofoam with a clean sheet of cellophane over it, labeled “chicken breast” or “ground beef”. Head over to any market in France or Italy and you see see the entire animal laid out in all its glory, feet still attached, head still attached, feathers still on. You simply ask the butcher which one you want and it’s gutted an cleaned right before your eyes. People are so quick to say “it’s unhealthy not to eat meat” but if they were witness to how their meat was raised/slaughtered they would be singing a different tune.
I’m not trying to be all preachy up in here and make you hop on the vegetarian train – heck, I’m not even there yet – all I’m asking is that you make an effort to know where your meat comes from. It is your body, you should decide what goes in it 🙂
Here are some interesting articles to check out:
This Little Piggy Went to Market: Where Does Your Meat Come From? – Huffington Post
Honor the Animal – Bunky Cooks Blog
Have Your Meat and Eat it Too – CBC Audio 3 Part Series
Alberta Chicken Producers