Jerseygator's Blog

Living la vida local, or why we spent $60 for 3 chickens at the farmer’s market

Posted in Cooking,Garden,locavore by jerseygator on May 22, 2010

This morning Darrol and I traveled to the Collingswood Farmer’s Market in a nearby town.  CFM was voted best small farmer’s market in America last year and with good reason.  Plenty of locally grown fruit and veg, cooking demonstrations, baked goods, flowers and free-range meat being bought by folks with lots of strollers, leashed dogs and canvas bags milling about.  We love the atmosphere and community as well as the bargains we find.

This morning we walked around for a bit before stopping at a local meat purveyor.  The meat comes from Pennsylvania and Jersey, so within a 100 mile radius (the informal range given to locavorism).  As we already have our beef, pork, lamb, goat and turkey orders into our local Jersey farmer, we knew we didn’t need much.  We tried some of the raw cheeses then settled on buying 3 hens, ranging from 3-1/2 lbs to 7 lbs.  Our total bill was just shy of $60.

Now, I’m sure some people would think “boy, are you stupid.  You can go down to Shoprite and get 3 chickens for 20 bucks!”  True, true.  However, once we decided that we wanted to eat more mindfully, and we didn’t want to be vegetarians, we knew we had to align our practices with our moral compass.  Books such as “Righteous Porkchop,” “The Omnivore’s Dilemna,” and “Food Matters,” as well as movies like “Supersize Me” and “Food, Inc.” all point out the relationship between what you eat and how you live.  Once you know how animals are treated at factory farms (CAFO’s) can you simply ignore it and eat as before?  If so, there is a disconnect between your head and your heart.  Factory farmed chickens, in particular,  lead horrendous existences (I can’t even call them “lives”) and are often dispatched in cruel, inhumane fashion.  Chickens bred as layers, once they are no longer as productive, are often slaughtered by being tossed alive into grinders to make feed for other animals.  Can we as a species continue to condone that by turning a blind eye?

I’ve tried to teach my children that there are 2 ways to vote: with your feet and with your dollars.  If we continue to bemoan the practices, yet still buy “cheap” chicken, the practice won’t stop.  If instead we use our feet to propel us to farmer’s markets and farmers who treat other life forms with respect, their businesses will grow.  Although some people choose to simply not eat meat, an opinion I respect and admire, it didn’t work for us.  So, instead, we will choose to pay more.  We will meet the farmers, like the older couple from whom we buy eggs (you can see the chickens running around, and the yolks are an intense orange from the chickens’ varied diets), and the kids at the farm stands outside the orchards.  We will spend $20 for one chicken, and then eat every part of it over several meals: roasted, then as shredded meat on a burrito, with the bones making a stock.  We will honor the cost of the  meal, not in dollars, but in the life of the animal.  We aren’t perfect and we aren’t shrill (we’ll eat out  on occasion and have meat, etc.), but we do try to follow the 80/20 rule… 80% of what we eat is local and/or organic, grown ourselves when possible, and grown/harvested (slaughtered) respectfully.  Eventually that other 20% will start to shrink as well.


3 Responses to 'Living la vida local, or why we spent $60 for 3 chickens at the farmer’s market'

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  1. Maureen Vines said,

    I admire you and Darrol so much for living your convictions! It’s wonderful that you can grow most of your own food and have access to so much organic & local food. Having a GREAT cook living in the house is an added bonus. I really enjoy reading about both of you on facebook and now you blog. We are very proud of you!
    Lots of Love,

  2. Robin said,

    You’ll have to let me know next time you’re going to the Collingswood market. I go almost every week, but didn’t get there yesterday.

  3. […] this post over at Jerseygator’s Blog by my friend Tracy Wilson about why she and her husband Darrol shelled out $20 a piece for whole […]

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