Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One Organic Chicken: Thinking Thrifty, Thinking Sustainable

When I was a teenager, I became a vegetarian. I was also an avid foodie and cook. This meant that I learned how to cook as a vegetarian. When I moved into my own house, I cooked vegetarian meals. When I decided to reintegrate minimal amounts of meat into my diet, I still had no idea how to cook most meat.

To this day, I don’t know how to cook and carve a chicken. It’s a confession that shocks my British mother-in-law, but it’s a fact. My neighbors invited me over to dinner a couple of weeks ago, and they asked me to carve the chicken. I did, but it wasn’t pretty, not at all.

We purchase a limited amount of meat every week, generally one package of free range beef. I’ve had a hard time sourcing local free range and organic chickens, so we don’t eat all that much chicken. However, a conversation the other day may have steered me in the direction of a local farmer who raises chickens in an ethical and environmentally-friendly way, and I’m excited.

My beef is from far away, relatively speaking. Yes, it’s from within my province, but the province where I live is a fairly large area, and the beef is from way, way beyond any scope of 100 kilometers. There’s one local beef producer that I’d like to buy from and do upon occasion, but he requires a very large order and we really don’t want to eat and store that much meat.

The part of the conversation that excited me wasn’t necessarily about a source of chicken, however. The part that excited me was the reminder that a small chicken can feed a family for the week. You can have chicken one night, a meal with pieces of chicken another night, and then you can use the bones for soup. I like the idea of using the entire chicken. If I am going to eat meat, I want to be thrifty about it, and this is something that we don’t do in our beef consumption.

It looks like we may be entering into the world of cooking and carving whole chickens. It’s been twenty years since I learned how to cook, and it’s been a decade and a half of cooking for myself. My British mother-in-law would be pleased.

If you eat meat, do you purchase it with multiple and thrifty uses in mind?

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