Saturday, September 17, 2005

Learning about the differences in chickens

I bought chicken at the grocery store for tonight. This was my first store-bought chicken since we butchered our roosters a couple weeks ago (or whenever it was. Time means so little to me these days.) As usual, I got two chickens. I looked at them closer this time as I cleaned them. I wanted to check on things I'd never noticed before and learn if I'd done things right when processing our birds. I have a lot more to do in the future and I want to do it right, you know.

So I started to pull the organ meats out of the cavity. There were two livers and a gizzard. No neck inside, but the neck was still partially on the chicken. I'd had questions about the oil gland removal while processing ours and ended up just cutting off the whole tail because I couldn't figure out what to do. I'd never really looked at whether the tail was there or not before. I figured it out today. I think I can get it right next time.

So then I move on to the second bird. No neck still attached on this one. The feet were removed as sloppily as we'd done our first bird. Inside the cavity was a liver, a gizzard and a heart. But wait, there was more! The ribs were all caving in and falling out! This bird had the worst skeletal structure you can imagine! It makes sense if you think about it. Your bones get stronger as your muscles get used. But this bird just sat in a box and ate and pooped and ate and pooped. What's going to strengthen the bones with that kind of a life? Okay, you may argue, I want my meat tender and that means the bones are softer. Big deal. Here's the big deal: Joy choked on her bones because she got a drumstick from that bird. The bones were falling apart as she ate the meat. Honestly, I would never have given that a second thought before. I'd have thought something happened while cooking or whatever. But we have a good, healthy flock out there. They move around. They play. They chase down bugs and eat all that good healthy protein and truly natural food. They live a happy life right up until it's time for us to process them. Maybe that sounds cruel to process these happy birds, but it seems so much more cruel to keep them in little boxes until they are processed!

And this chicken was labeled "100% natural. No hormones, no steroids." Hmm. Is that all it takes to be called natural? I thought it was natural for chickens to walk around and forage for things. It just seems sad what we've done to our food source.

Oh, and let's talk color. Once, one of my children asked me why they call some meat "white" and some meat "dark" because there isn't really a difference. Our chickens had definite white and dark meat. I had to call the kids in to show them that there is a reason for the two terms when I was fixing the birds we raised. Tonight I noticed that the store-bought chickens' organ meats weren't as dark either. It just looked so unhealthy.

So I guess we'll be slacking off on chicken consumption until the chicks in the brooder are ready to be processed. We'll be taking orders soon too. You can order yours at Orders@panivinoranch.com. Sorry if this sounds like a commercial, but I am more convinced than ever that our birds are healthier than store-bought chicken and I wish we could grow enough of them to help everyone I know to eat healthy! But since it's not a real commercial, just email us if you want more info about availability, pricing, etc. I won't bore you with all that info here. ;-)

Melissa

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