Nov 6, 2011

Chicken: Taking Baby Steps

My journey towards this Real Food life has been slow and gradual.  About ten years in the making with the last three or four years being the most serious.

If ten years ago, you told me that I would be paying $3 a POUND for whole chicken, I would have called you cray-ZAY.  At the time, I would only buy bonless-skinless chicken breasts, on sale for $1/pound.  And I was clueless about how key nutrients for brain development come from grass-fed or pastured meats.

Ten years ago, I wrongly believed that cheaper always meant better.  I was semi-clueless about the poor living conditions for battery raised animals. (Read: not just inhumane but SICK, unhealthy conditions for meat animals results in low quality meat for human consumption.  If you haven't been convinced of this yet, please view Food, Inc. ASAP.)

Now, ten years later, I don't blink a bit when I pay $12-15 for a chicken.  Because I know that I will use the whole bird, even the bones.  Fifteen dollars will get me at least three nutrient dense meals.  And when it comes to feeding my family - nutrient density is the name of the game.

My goal in the kitchen is not just to fill bellies.  I want to develop their brains, make strong bones and straight teeth as well as prevent them from getting sick.

So -

If you find yourself on the beginning of a real food journey and you are used to buying boneless, skinless chicken breasts let me encourage you to take the next step.  You don't have to jump in whole hog chicken (though perfectly fine with me.)

Here is my ten year progression of consuming chicken, each choice being healthier than the last:

- boneless, skinless breasts from the grocery store
- whole chicken from the grocery store
- whole chicken from the grocery store, using bones for broth
- whole, organic, chicken from natural food store using bones for broth
- whole pastured chicken from local farmer, using bones for broth
- whole pastured chicken from local farmer, using bones, neck and feet for broth

The next step for me is to learn to like the organ meats, like liver.  I'm just not ready to be that crazy...yet.

Looking back, one of the biggest hurdles was learning to like the dark meat as well as disciplining myself to make (and use!) broth.  Dark meat is still not my favorite.  Usually it is used in casseroles or other dishes where the meat isn't singled out, like in enchiladas or chicken salad.  Actually, I prefer to use the stronger tasting dark meat in chicken salad.

Where are you in the spectrum?  Are you eating the whole bird?  Using the bones?

as a part of Monday Mania

Why broth is so beneficial and should be eaten regularly.
How I make chicken broth.
Gelatinous Chicken Broth: Secret Ingredients.

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1 comment:

  1. I wish I could go back in time and take back all of those boneless, skinless chicken breasts I bought!

    I buy whole, local chickens from whole foods, and occasionally a local bird from the farmer's market. I buy feet at WF or the farmer's market to use in stock, and I use stock constantly, even drink it straight, just to use it all up.

    I roast a chicken once a week, our family eats most of the white meat, and I use the rest in another dish - soup, salad, or casserole - later in the week.



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