On Processing Chickens for the First Time

Followers of the blog I just recently digested Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Afterwards I embarked on my own Pollanesque eating experiment.  This past weekend I visited a friend’s farm where I processed chickens for the first time.

My friends, Eli and Amber, worship at my congregation and began selling chickens, eggs and vegetables to us a while back.  We decided to volunteer to help them process some chickens one afternoon, partly as a “thank you”, partly as a learning experience.  I felt like Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs, which is funny, considering he usually explores jobs most of us know nothing about or easily forget happen, and plenty of people slaughter chickens or know something of how it works.  I figured if I was going to really absorb this literature and echo the message of natural eating, I should experience more food raw preparation.  Since I hadn’t been able to catch, clean and cook a fish on my vacation, I should at least process a farm animal.
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The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Digest part 3: All Flesh is Grass

A Digest of  The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 3: Polyface Farm
“All Flesh is Grass”

“Mother earth never attempts to farm without live stock; she always raises mixed crops; great pains are taken to preserve the soil and to prevent erosion; the mixed vegetable and animal wastes are converted into humus; there is no waste; the processes of growth and the processes of decay balance one another; the greatest care is taken to store the rainfall; both plants and animals are left to protect themselves against disease.” —Albert Howard,  An Agricultural Testament

Our past two posts on the subjects of corn and meat were not too pleasant, so this post promises to be more hopeful.  We’re moving on from mad cow disease to “glad cows at ease”.
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The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Digest part 2: The Feedlot, Grocer, and McD’s

A Digest of  The Omnivore’s Dilemma Part 2: The Feedlot,  Grocery Store, and the McD’s
“We’re Not in Kansas Anymore”

“Processed food has become largely a supply-driven business—the business of figuring out clever ways to package and market the glut of commodities coming off the farm and out of the wet mills[..]The underlying reductionist premise—that food is nothing more than the sum of its nutrients—remains undisturbed.”—Michael Pollan

The Cow Factory
It’s not a secret to anybody that most of the beef you buy at grocery stores is from cows squeezed into CAFOs—Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations.  That’s not new information.  It’s just that we’re not reminded of it enough, and when we are, it’s still a distant fact.  It’s also not usually woven into a story and set against a more natural story of raising animals.
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