Friday, July 16, 2010


I've been thinking a lot about food lately (and always) as I try to create the menu for my business. What is on my mind most prevalently is meat. Is it ethical to eat meat? My standard response is we wouldn't have canine teeth if we were not intended by evolution to eat meat. Our brains wouldn't have grown to the size and capacity that they have if we hadn't climbed down from the fruit tree and started eating small animals. We wouldn't have straightend up our spine so that we could scan the plains for antelope. But we seem to have come to a point in our emotional maturation where killing seems wrong. Hopefully this is a sign that our lifespan as a species is long and we are just hitting that tender innocent young child phase of wanting to take care of everything around us. But what is the reasoning behind this. Is it the Industrial Revolution created distance from our food sources? The reality of meat has become so removed as to make us more sensitive to the unpleasant side? Is vegetarianism a luxury created by overabundance? Is it truly healthy? I believe that a vegetable based diet is a great detox diet. It will help start weight loss and begin a road to health. But I don't believe that it is a sustainably healthy diet. I feel there is a physical and chemical need for the nutrition provided by meat. It can be supplemented, but I do not believe that supplements should be included in a truly healthy diet. If one is eating well, supplementation is unnecessary. I also believe that foods are an intricate process combining vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins, fibers, and many undiscovered elements that create nutrition within our bodies. Separating any element causes unforeseen losses in the action.
Back to meat. Have we intellectualized ourselves to this point of questioning the ethical implications of eating meat? Is the question arising from a general sense of rebellion against the atrocities of factory farming? But then doesn't that mean that the pasture raised ethically treated and humanely slaughtered animal is okay? Wild animals shot without them being aware even better? Why does that seem callous? I have a dog that I love like one of my own kids. I know my dog has emotions, memories, desires. Pigs are smarter than dogs. I eat pork often. I would never eat or want anyone to eat my dog. When Bambi's mother gets shot, I'm furious at the asshole hunters who would do such a thing! But wild venison is a treat that I jump at when I get the chance. Disney had a stuffed fawn in his office that the animators used for reference in creating Bambi. Are we not wild animals ourselves? Aren't we just a pack of highly organized and intelligent monkeys? Doesn't death come and take us in cruel and callous ways? That asshole hunter Cancer came and took my Mommy away from me, just when I needed her the most (which is always). There is even evidence that the creators of certain types of cancer is in some office somewhere with lab rats to reference their work on. Do we think on some subconscious level that if we stop making animals suffer for our meat, we ourselves may not suffer either? That we will not die in a hurtful way?
What are your thoughts?
For now I'm sticking with sustainably, organically, locally, and ethically raised meat as the healthiest option. I'll continue to look for a way to rationalize my emotions with my beliefs with my desire to eat well.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The SOLE solution.

I want to eat food, not scientifically created substances that stimulate my taste buds in a positive and mildly addictive manner. I want to be able to feed my family and pay my bills, not pay several agencies and vendors that don't know what the product we are dealing with is. I want to know what we are eating, not play 20 questions. I want what we intake to nourish our insides, not create a new income for the medical clinic.
Finding a way to get local food on a budget with limited time for acquiring is my mission.
Until about 100 years ago food procurement was our first priority. With the industrial revolution and the shift of the majority of our populations to major cities, we have created a culture that thinks of meals as a side bar, something that must be gotten out of the way so we can get on with more important things. To some, meals are a nuisance. Media works tirelessly to convince us that the faster and the tastier the substance the better it is for our happiness.
A major obstacle to eating food is cultural training.
We have become a world of sanitary efficiency with more illness and less time for living. Think of the people who are disgusted to consider where an egg or milk comes from. That cutting vegetables to make the family meal takes too much time is a digestive disorder in the creation.
We are also under attack from the "system" of food supply itself. I think we are all aware that industry is not looking out for public welfare. The bottom line for any large business is the bottom line in profits. Make more, cheaper, faster. That is good business in the market of today. It is more cost effective to make restitution than to make consistently high quality product. One only needs look up the lobbying dollars spent by major corporations to see that in detail. In 2008 Kraft spent over 3.5 million dollars in lobbying.
Enough about the bad stuff...the why is it important stuff...
What am I gonna do about it?
Shopping at the Farmer's Market is sometimes up to half the cost in many cases. An example is the Shitake mushrooms, At the Farmer's Market they are $7 a pound, at New Leaf they are $14.99 a pound. Plus the kids get to see and feel and often taste the other local farm products, as well as talk to the farmer about the product. We know it's in season and we can easily see where it came from.
Finding meat can be difficult. We want pasture raised organic meat. Though through research and disscusion I know that the Westside Farmer's Market has TLC Ranch which carries pork and eggs, they also sell Morris Ranch Beef. The Saratoga F.M. has Pacines Ranch chickens. though that is a bit of a drive, we buy several at a time, cut them up and freeze the portions, while making medicinal bone broth.
The trouble I'm having is finding local grains. I was really bummed when I found out that Gayles uses ConAgra flour. It shed a sad light on local bread and pasta for me.
The real solution is to grow as much of our own food as possible. A return to the kitchen garden and family flocks. After a disaster, food and water becomes the first concern. Imagine if we all had little gardens, a couple chickens, and maybe a dairy animal. How about a garden well? How much money would we save? How self sufficient would we feel? How about self worth? To provide for oneself and loved ones. Imagine the community feel. Neighborhoods discussing the raising of food and sharing the overabundance. Utopian or just around the corner? I need to work on this more, but what do you think?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Local, but how local?

So Whole Foods has come to town. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand the spots they occupy were formerly an Albertson's and a Ralph's. Both corporate chains that were strong sellers of conventional, imported, processed, and otherwise unwholesome foods. Replacing them or preventing them from being occupied by similar type stores is a benefit to the community. Though bringing another sort of organic, sustainably concerned market into a town with several already existing small business natural foods stores could be overkill and create too much strain for such economically challenging times. My thoughts tend towards the customer service angle, in which Santa Cruz is NOTORIOUSLY awful. My mind often returns to memories of sales clerks in Melrose during the 80's when you almost had to pass a coolness/ locals scene test to be permitted to browse their selection of thrift store wares. A little competeion and training tips would not be amiss in this town. My time spent working in local grocery was to emmulate Whole Foods as closely as possible. There are reasons they are so successful. I also consider that Trader Joe's has been in town for years and no-one has gone under. They have a very similar way of making the shopper think they are getting an excellent deal on organics and natural foods, though when ever I look closer I get frustrated by freshly baked bread shipped from southern california or Organic nuts from China (California is one of the largest growers of almonds and walnuts what sense does it make to import them from China, by way of southern california first of course) and then to give the illusion of helping the local farmer. No, I gotta say Trader Joe's angers me much more than Whole Foods. Trader Joe's is owned by the 20th richest person in the world. Not some barefoot magarita drinking beach bum as they would like to portray. Enough of that!

Whole Foods is (as I found on Wikipedia)..."The company is consistently ranked among the most socially responsible businesses[5] and placed second on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's list of Top 25 Green Power Partners.[6]" Started by a college drop out and his girlfriend who ended up living in their store when they got eveicted. They grew fast and had problems, but in an interview with Micheal Pollan (given after the release of Omnivore's Dillema which had a fiscally negative impact on the stores) original owner and CEO John Mackey outlines how they are adressing many of the issues brought up by Pollan's book, which were representative of most peoples reservations about the chain. After watching the interview/discussion I gained a respect for John Mackey. It takes a pretty good person to face such direct criticism and to meet it with grace and take it with the proper attitude of 'okay we've messed up and lost our way, We want to be better and will try to remedy our obvious faults'.

Shopping locally and supporting locally produced products, sold by locally owned businesses and profiting local community is best. For food, in my mind, CSA is best, direct from the farm to the consumer. Then, farmer's markets selling from farm's that actually are local, organic/ sustainablly managed businesses (sometimes you do need to ask). Then small locally owned stores that uphold the beliefs the consumer shares. In this town Staff of Life wins, or the Felton or Boulder Creek New Leaf (the Santa Cruz, Capitola, Half Moon Bay stores are actually owned by a Canadian company). Then stores that pay attention to providing locally produced products, fair traded, sustainably produced, such as New Leaf and Whole Foods (I found my CSA eggs and my former co-worker who started her own business making herbal remedy items has products for sale at the new Whole Foods, I dunno if New Leaf does or not, but that represents marketing to me. I saw them at WF not NL). Then the most competetivly priced of the larger chains on items that I know to be better overall for my needs, such as diapers, I tend to end up at Nob Hill who frequently has sales of Seventh Generation diapers that brings them into the cheap diaper price range without compromising on my belief that bleached paper diapers are unneccessarily adding chemicals to a sensitive area and a land fill.

We vote with our dollars, so if I spend most of my vote on locally produced, sustainably managed, and fairly traded products, it ultimately matters most that I vote, not where.

What tends to get to me, is that almost all of the local farms are on land that is leased. The little sweet farmer you meet at the market who spends her/ his time out in the sunshine working the land protecting the sprouts from bunnies and the chickies from hawks does so while paying rent to someone else. Most of the homes in this county are owned by someone out of the area who then charges rent. Most of the foreclosures in town are being bought up by out of state investors who will turn around and bring in an out of area contracting company to build a new building and then try to sell it back into the community only to be bought by someone in Cupertino that will use it as a vacation home or rent it to college students that will come in and lower the local working wage for the rest of us that live here permanently. Argh!

Back to the Whole Foods is the link to a webcast of the dialog between Mackey and Pollan

Good luck in all your voting, try to keep it local, or at least in mind...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Chemicals, Nutrition, and the Human Mind

I've been busy at my new job as a cook for a transitional group home for psychiatric patients. I'm buying, preparing, and serving meals to a group of up to 10 clients with diagnoses from depressed, suicidal, addiction, psychosis, schizophrenic, to highly paranoid. These people are in crisis and need all the help they can get. They are often on medications that aren't right but are what they can afford or what Medi Cruz decides they should have. The effects of these chemicals wreak awful havoc on their digestive and immune systems. I'm working within a budget, getting things from the food bank and shopping at the stores with cheaper prices. I feel that they should have the best quality but it needs to be affordable too. I'm hoping to set up a system with the local farmers to be able to get directly from them any surplus or donations they may wish to make, we are a non-profit. But for now it is frustrating trying to nutritionally treat my people in an intensive/emergency kind of way while getting food from Costco and Safeway. Luckily most of the donations to the food bank are organic locally grown vegetables and we've had some great Kale, Mushrooms, Sweet Potatoes, and Collard Greens lately, not to mention the steady stream of baby greens and baby spinach from Earthbound Farms. But it's the meat and dairy that is killing me inside. These are the last people who need to ingest more chemicals through their food. But they also do need meat and milk. Many clients are coming from the street where all they have eaten for weeks is processed sugar filled corn products. They need minerals and iron, and vitamins. They need healthy fats and proteins.

I don't know what I'm really trying to say, but I needed to say it. It's been awhile since I've had the energy to address this blog in any way and I just needed to put out there to the universe at large where I'm at.

Oh yeah and I'm endlessly frustrated at the fact that by the time I get home from work I'm so tired of making food and cleaning up kitchen that I don't want to go near my own until the next morning, which means that my own family is eating things like frozen fish sticks, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and peanut butter and jelly for dinner. At least I've shopped well and all these things are as healthy as they can be, but that really just isn't as much as they need or deserve.

At least we can afford groceries now that I'm working.....

Sunday, November 2, 2008

So confusing...

Sometimes we just don't know how to choose!

I've been spending alot of time researching the best and "greenest" ways of living. I'm creating a business based on helping other people to sort through the avalanche of new, often conflicting, and confusing information on living. Questions like "Should we spend the extra money to get a product we need that was produced somewhere other than China. Should we spend even more to get it made in USA, and even more to get it made locally-ish?" "What is my energy use." (I live in a community where our energy bills are 3rd party and very confusing. I'm actually going to have to "talk to someone" to understand my bill.) "What items are essential, what are important, what are good to have, and what are frivolities?" And most important to me, "What is a healthy diet?"

This kills me. That the more I read on food, eating, politics, and culture, the more confused I become about what is the "best" diet. Sure it depends on what's local, fresh, seasonal. What's least processed and most lovingly raised.

But what about meat? Okay, pasture raised, healthy lifestyle, happy meat? Do we need meat in our culture of abundance? Is this just an addiction like sugar? I know there are good things in meat, minerals and vitamins that are more readily soluble, proteins and fats that are good energy. But is it the best way to get these things. We don't need much if so, about 4 oz is enough, which is roughly one deli sandwich worth of meat, a day. Alot less than I grew up eating or eat now, even trying to be aware of cutting back. I tend to base my meal planning on the meat or entree first, then the vegetables and starch as sides. But according to most nutritionists we should eat mostly vegetables and grains with meat as a flavoring.

But what about starches? Carbohydrates are the producers of insulin, insulin traps fat, fat causes cancers and heart disease, plus contributes to diabetes. How does that apply to whole grains? Should we be eating a diet of mostly vegetables with a few whole grains, a bit of meat, no dairy, no processed grains, no added sugars and fats, what about eggs?

Nuts are okay, but now they maybe pasteurised (heated quickly to kill bacteria, which also kills important nutrients and changes the molecular structure. And now the USDA is pushing this and not mandating that the consumer be told if they are or not).

Beans are good, I think, so far I haven't found anything negative about beans.

Fruit is okay, if we consider carbon footprint and eat whole fruit, not juices. Though with fruit you need to consider sugars again.

But what about Slow Food? Enjoy and savor, eat with tradition and conscience, be mindful of being nourished. Where does my beloved cheese fit into all this. I'm a chef by nature, I need to play with food, be creative, make things taste good, and nurture. But that means leaving behind all the things known as comfort foods. We've been eating meat since we became. We grew larger brains because of it. We've been drinking milk since we domesticated the beast. We've evolved the ability as adults to digest it. We've been eating grains all along the way. Wheat is the "staff of life" and bread and/or rice are the best known staples in almost every culture. "All things in moderation", but what about some of the processed food-like stuff out there? Or things like bread and cheese, that are totally addictive and take about a month or so to break free of the craving for? And what about cravings? Is that instinct telling you that your body needs something or the addict calling for more drug? Argggghhhh!

I want clear answers! This is food we are talking about. Something every single one of us does everyday, and have done so since time began. Why is it confusing? Why is it so non-intuitive? Why am I up at 1:48am (second time this night I've seen 1:48am, daylight savings time) trying to figure out the simplest and most important question of humankind? What to eat?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

"Free Range" or Pasture Raised

Okay for definition sake, Free Range means provided access to the outside. Organic means fed a certified organic diet, no antibiotics, no chemicals, no hormones, no genetically modified organisms (although this one is being worked on since the food or substance in question is molecularly the same thing). And Pasture Raised means 100% access to grass and field. Now, just nutritionally speaking and not considering the quality of life issues...As far as I see it a chicken is supposed to peck, to eat bugs, grubs, seeds, grass, and the occasional pepples ('cause they have gizzards). Wikipedia says-Chickens are omnivores. In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even larger animals such as lizards or young mice.

So what this means is a chicken raised on a vegatarian diet of corn and soy is not eating what a chicken should eat, and probably not carrying the same nutrients and minerals that a chicken should have. This just seems logical to me. But in the grocery store my options are Organic Chicken, Organic Free Range Chicken, Free Range Chicken, and conventional Chicken. (Note I capitalised Organic, and Free Range, these are definable USDA standards, conventional is just everything else that is not certified one of these things). Not a Pature Raised Chicken to pick from (o.k., pun kinda intended). Instead to find such a thing as a chicken raised the way a chicken oughta be, as deemed by Nature herself, I had to do an online search. After several hours and 4 emails, I heard from a rancher out in Tres Pinos (way out past Hollister, about 50 miles away). He told me he would be at the Saratoga Farmer's Market on saturdays. Hooray! A trip over the hill (28 miles away), which included a nice breakfast at Hobee's, and we had 2 fresh, local, pasture raised chickens! And the price was $20 for each chicken weighing over 4 pounds each, in fact almost 5 pounds. That works out to around $4.50 a pound. Totally worth it in my book. And low and behold, the chicken actually tasted like chicken! Even more so than I'm accustomed to. Plus I can only logically assume that we are getting more chicken from our chicken since it lived more of a chiken-ish life than our previous chickens ever did(or ever will. poor chickies).

For those who would like a little more reseach then my opinion and assumptions...

From Wikipedia

The USDA requires that chickens raised for their meat have access to the outdoors in order to receive the free-range certification. Free-range chicken eggs, however, have no legal definition in the United States. Likewise, free-range egg producers have no common standard on what the term means. Many egg farmers sell their eggs as free range merely because their cages are two or three inches above average size, or because there is a window in the shed.

From Petaluma Poultry, producers of Rosie Organic Free Range Chicken

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Petaluma Poultry define "natural" chicken?Natural chickens are found in many stores across the country and meet the broadly-defined USDA guidelines for using the word "natural" on their label. These guidelines state that any product may be labeled natural if it does not contain any artificial flavoring, coloring ingredients, chemical preservatives or any other synthetic ingredients, and the product is minimally processed.The USDA natural claim represents little more than a minimal standard. Specifically, it does not address growing methods and in particular, the use of antibiotics or growth enhancers for livestock and poultry. And, even with a USDA natural label, it is legally possible to offer naturally grown livestock or chickens that have been fed antibiotics. In fact, any conventionally grown chicken can qualify for this natural claim as stated in the USDA guidelines.

Petaluma Poultry defines a "natural" chicken as one that is raised without antibiotics for its entire life, fed a vegetarian diet without the use of animal fat or animal by-products, raised in a stress-free environment and treated in a humane manner at all times.

Certified organic chicken takes the raising of chickens to a new level and creates an entirely new category of products for the consumer. "Certified organic" chickens are different from "natural" chickens because they are fed a certified organic diet, raised without antibiotics and use a third party certifier to verify the manner in which they are raised. ROSIE offers the consumer another choice responding to the growing awareness and demand for organic products.-

-Who raises ROCKY Chickens and how are they raised?

ROCKY Chickens are raised solely by Petaluma Poultry on various local ranches throughout Sonoma and Marin Counties. All ranches are located within 30 miles of our own processing plant on Lakeville Highway in Petaluma, California.They are raised on a soft bed of rice hulls, approximately 6 to 8 inches thick. All of our chickens are given approximately one square foot per bird in which to roam freely in the poultry house, and the outdoor pen space is 50% to 100% the size of the inside houses. This represents up to double the growing space given conventional chickens.-

-What does free range mean? What is the difference between free range chickens and conventional chickens?

Petaluma’s birds get approximately one square foot per bird, about 25% more space per bird than those raised in conventional poultry operations. Depending upon the farm, the pens outside are 50% to 100% of the size of the inside houses.
Beginning at approximately four weeks of age, when the birds are fully feathered and able to withstand both exposure to the sun and cooler outside temperatures, the birds are allowed to roam outside of the house beginning about mid-morning, and are then ushered back inside the house around 5 pm. They are locked inside the house at night to protect them from predators. There are multiple outside access doors on the sides of the house for the chickens to use the outdoor pen during the day.

What types of feed are chickens fed and what is a vegetable diet?

We strongly believe that the flavor of the chickens comes from the feed that they eat.All ROCKY chickens are fed the same feed made from high quality, nutritionally balanced feed ingredients. The feed is composed of approximately 70% corn and corn gluten meal and 15-18% soybean meal, with the balance of the diet made up of salt, vitamins, and minerals. The diet is called a vegetable diet because the protein and energy sources; corn and soybean meal, are all vegetable in origin. NO animal by-products or animal fat are used in the ROCKY chicken feed.-

-Why do some chickens have yellow colored skin and some have white skin?

The yellow pigmentation in the skin of chickens is derived from xanthophyll, which naturally occurs in yellow corn. Chickens fed a high level of corn and corn gluten meal will have a naturally yellow colored skin. Chickens fed grains such as wheat, oats or barley that do not contain xanthophyll will not have yellow skin.We at Petaluma Poultry spend extra money feeding our ROCKY chickens corn and corn gluten meal to get the yellow color of which we are so proud.

(Wikipedia has this to say about the yellow color---genetic research has suggested that the bird likely descended from both Red and the Grey Junglefowl (G. sonneratii). Although hybrids of both wild types usually tend toward sterility, recent genetic work has revealed that the genotype for yellow skin present in the domestic fowl is not present in what is otherwise its closest kin, the Red Junglefowl. It is deemed most likely, then, that the yellow skin trait in domestic birds originated in the Grey Junglefowl.*Resource*-Eriksson J, Larson G, Gunnarsson U, Bed'hom B, Tixier-Boichard M, et al. (2008) Identification of the Yellow Skin Gene Reveals a Hybrid Origin of the Domestic Chicken. PLoS Genet January 23, 2008 )

Why do we not use antibiotics in our poultry?

We believe that the long term use of antibiotics represent a biological and environmental threat. The long term usage of a particular antibiotic in food animals may allow the development of genetically specific resistant bacteria. If these resistant bacteria from the food supply are passed into a bacteria that infects humans, usage of this particular antibiotic against cross resistant bacteria may become ineffective and could lead to prolonged sickness, slower recovery, and possible death.Increased use of antibiotics in food animals has caused an increase in the overall resistance to antibiotics both in animals and human beings. It now takes a larger dosage of antibiotics to produce the same effect as a smaller dosage administered 20 years ago. This growing resistance is passed on to the succeeding generations, and thus becomes a self perpetuating cycle.Secondly, and most importantly, chickens do not need antibiotics to grow and be healthy. We want our chickens to develop their own resistance to disease by raising them in a natural environment using better methods of poultry husbandry.We at Petaluma Poultry, where we can control all aspects of poultry husbandry, feel that we are well suited to raise chickens without the use of antibiotics.By more rigidly watching every aspect of our breeding stock, vaccination programs, ranch clean up and sanitation programs, as well as reducing stocking density (fewer chickens per square feet of living space), minimal stress, and having a nutritionally well-balanced feeding program, we are able to raise high quality chickens without the use of antibiotics.

back to me again...

This just illustrates to me that we aren't supposed to know about natural systems, we aren't supposed to question why a vegetarian diet to a known omnivore, we aren't even supposed to wonder why a safe shed enclosure with access to the outside isn't providing chickens with grass, bugs, or seeds. If they can claim a certain diet, they must be able to enforce a certain diet. And they are "proud" of themselves! Is it just me that thinks this is stinking of more than chicken sh*t?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Chicken Poop Cows, are they still mad?

I've been reading up on our local food systems in this country. It seems that we are all victims of a bad food bully...the USDA. They are the ones responsible for mad cow disease, they are the ones responsible for deciding what we should eat, and they are the ones responsible for making it almost impossible to get meat that was raised in a local and sustainable way. After reading Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense Of Food by Michael Pollan, Mad Sheep by Linda Faillace, and Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal by Joel Salatin I've gotten a nice little gist of what is ailing this country from the start. It seems that as a whole we, the eater, are not allowed to judge what is safe and healthy to eat. Instead the USDA, with all the beauracracy that goes along with any government agency as well as the funding and pressure that comes from special interest groups, is deciding what meat and dairy is allowed to be on our table. The USDA is putting intense pressure on small local farmers to get out of the business. When it was discovered and officailly recognised that Mad Cow disease is caused by feeding herbivores meat and bone from other herbivores, the USDA, after several years of continuing to feed the meat to the meat (especially since it could now be bought so cheaply from England where they figured out that this was causing the very deadly and expensive mad cow outbreak over there) asked farmer's to stop feeding the cows to the cows and instead suggested that cows be fed chicken poop and chicken bits. Make sense? Not to mention that cows fed chicken and chicken poop tend to smell like chicken poop. But there is also some discussion that maybe Mad Cow is caused by excessive use of heavy metals like aluminum and pesticides like fly killer. How can we know for sure when the majority of cattle today are standing in a pile of their own poop, eating whatever is cheapest, and being shot up with whatever is suggested to keep them on their feet until we can push them into the slaughter house that has the most processing ability (not the cleanest).
Now what about the little guy? The farmer down the road with 10- 15 cows that you would like to get a roast from when he does his slaughtering? We look at his cows happily munching away at some fresh grass, her little calf next to her side chasing after a butterfly, and we think how idyllic. That is how a cow should live it's life. In harmony and bliss. Plus there is no stink, it just smells like grass. The cows have been moved to this pasture after one day on the other pasture, where there are now chicken shelters dotted over the field, pecking at the manure to get to the grubs and worms and distributing the excellent fertilizer over the grassy ground. These chickens are also pretty damn happy as far as chicken joy goes. Bugs, grass, poop, fresh air, space to peck and scratch. It don't get much better! And the blessing for us as eaters? These animals are healthy. They don't get antibiotics, cause they aren't sick, they don't get hormones or steroids, cause the farmer knows these things make the meat tasteless and nutritionless. The farmer is actually out for our best interest. He wants to take care of me, just like he does his own family. If I'm happy as a customer, then I will tell people and increase his business, he'll make more money and can support more cows. It's like a perfect system, the one that most of civilization is based upon. Supply and demand. Fair trade. Taking care of the community that takes care of you.
So why is that not happening? Why is it a search to find a chicken that was raised on grass, not corn? Because the USDA, and behind them, backing them, are big business. The corn industry, the cattle industry, the poultry industry. These groups spend millions of dollars each year just to woo the beauracrats and congresspeople into passing more and more regulations and policies that make it impossible for the local farmer to survive. The easiest example is that in order to slaughter your own beef you must take it to a liscensed slaughter house. To be a liscensed slaughter house you must have among other obvious things, a bathroom for the sole use of the USDA inspector. You must have foot operated hand washing stations, you must have handicap accessability, you must have a two lane road to access the facility, these things all add up to no less then $500,000 to build a structure that can meet all these requirements. And then once you've raised that money, you find you cannot build it on your farm, no, that is zoned agricultural land and a slaughterhouse is a processing facility. Never mind that you have 5 employees and you only kill about 100 beef a year. That you use every last bit of that cow for meat, fertilizer, leather, and tallow. Nope, you are a hazard to your own health and the community's. Though a 100 miles away at the industrial processing facility, they are killing 1000 beef a day, tossing the remains in a trailer truck, and rinsing all that gore down to a pond that leaches out right next to the local river. The stench from this facility is smelled for miles and the bacterias are into the millions. Yet they are liscensed and considered officailly safe. They have mulitple violations daily from the questionably legal workers and the procedure following charts that are filled out months in advance. But they have a private bathroom for the USDA inspector, not to mention a rec room for him to hang out in. Is this a safe system, does it make you think twice about that unbelievably cheap T-bone at Safeway? Wonder just what are you eating? Chicken poop?