An ethical alternative to Walking the Walk

February 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

roasted_chickenA lot of people can’t or don’t want to eat birds they’ve raised themselves. Which is fine – it’s not an easy thing to do. We’re assuming you’re already uncomfortable with the idea of eating the standard supermarket chicken. (If you aren’t, click on the “say no!” link in the sidebar, and find out a few reasons why you should be!)

A lot of people at this stage say “yes, but organic chicken is so expensive. I can’t afford it.”

Complete bollocks. And we’ll prove it to you.

The ethical, and practical, and economical way is to buy whole organic (or at the very least, free range) birds, and joint them yourself. Is it worth the hassle? See for yourself. From two whole birds, we can usually get:

  • 4 lots of breast meat 
  • 2 lots of drumsticks
  • 2 lots of thighs
  • 1 lot of nibbles (wings)
  • 2 lots chicken stock (2 litres)
  • 1 lot of cooked chicken (around 150-200g, depending on the bird and how thorough you are) for pizzas, pasta, risotto etc.

Each “lot” is what we would use for a single meal for the two of us. Because they’re organic birds, they have more flavour (and hence you don’t need so much anyway) and actually have more meat in the thighs and body than you’d ever get from a factory chicken. So the cooked chicken estimate is probably on the low side. (Depends on how thorough you are … and how much you nibble as you go!)

Do the maths yourself. Even if you buy your organic birds from a supermarket (usually the most expensive option), worst case scenario you’re only looking at $60 for at least ten meals for two people. That’s $6 per meal. $3 per person! What else can you get for that little? Mince? (Do you want to know how that’s produced?)

westwood-organic-retailBut you can go cheaper than that, and be even more ethical. Our local organic chicken producer is Westwood Organics. Every Saturday, they sell fresh and frozen birds at the Canterbury Farmer’s Market. Cheaper than supermarket prices. And better still, you can buy seconds: they aren’t ‘bad’ at all, just a bit less attractive to look at (skin tearing, maybe a broken wing bone from the mechanical plucker, or a bit of bruising somewhere from not bleeding evenly during processing). westwood-organic-secondThis morning we bought four #16 birds (roughly 1.6 kg each) for the enormous sum of $18 each. And that’s their standard price! They also sell Free Range birds, which are cheaper than the organic, although I don’t know if they sell seconds of them or not.

Moral: wherever you live, check out your local Farmers’ Market!

Time consuming to do? Well there’s a bit of faffing around, organising knives and containers etc. And stock making is something we do separately (tomorrow, in fact – after roasting the carcasses and pulling off the leftover meat). But the actual jointing of the birds is remarkably quick to do, especially when you get the hang of it. When timed this afternoon, the complete jointing of one bird, from opening the bag in the sink to plopping the last jointed piece in a container was (drumroll please!) … 7 minutes.

Reckon you can spare that sort of time?

 

We thought it might be helpful to document the process, so it can now be viewed here. If the photos aren’t clear enough, or there’s something you’d like shown that isn’t there, let us know and the next time we do the business we’ll take some pictures to add.

Seriously, give it a go. It’s a small step that can change your life. You’ll feel chuffed to bits. And anything that reduces the number of people who think they have to buy gulag chicken is a win for the angels, right?

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