"But that is a chicken, so why wouldn't it taste like chicken?" The real question is: do you know what real chicken tastes like?
For quite some time, I've been tossing around the idea of growing and eating my own chickens. I was raised in the midwest and saw truckload after truckload of animals headed to slaughter. Even as a little girl, it made an impression on me--a very negative one. My father took me hunting for years and taught me to respect the animals we killed. Suffering was not a part of the equation. As I grew older, I was exposed to chicken houses in Arkansas and feedlots in Missouri. The animals were eating things they were never meant to eat (corn for cattle, chicken poop and feathers for chickens), and packed in like sardines in a can. They were not living the way they were meant to live before we eat them. Long ago, I told myself that if I could ever grow and slaughter my own meat, that I would. All these years I've just separated myself mentally from where my meat comes from; and how it ultimately meets its death.
I am taking one step away from grocery store chicken after 40+ years. Baby steps.
My first bit of business was to see if "real" chicken tasted any different than grocery store chicken. Goodness knows it is a lot of work to take a chicken from coop to table. Would it be worth it? I headed to my local Farmers Market in search of chicken that had a good life and died without suffering. I came across Dewberry Hills Farm table and purchased a chicken.
When I brought it home, poor Lee......well, I'd paid $12 for a chicken! Twice the grocery store price. "That had better be one tasty bird!" I pressed on. When I opened the packaging (vacuum packed-frozen) it was then that I knew things were going to be different. It didn't have that funky smell that grocery store chickens have. I cut it up and discovered it had been very well bled. Nothing puts me off chicken more quickly than a bloody drumstick. I chose to bake it with just salt, pepper, and garlic powder. The moment of truth was just around the corner, would it be a "tasty bird"? It tasted wonderful!! Lee described it as 'fresh'. The kids said it didn't taste 'chickeny' --like fish tastes fishy when it's not so fresh. I thought it was mild, and tender. I could gush on, but you get the picture.
When I emailed the Dewberry Hills Farm to let them know how much I'd enjoyed their chicken, Jane was nice enough to email me back. We exchanged stories and she was kind enough to offer that I could come out to her farm the next time they processed chickens. I want to see what I'm getting myself into. Tyson is certainly not going to let me anywhere near their growing or processing plants!
Anyway, real chicken tastes nothing like grocery store chicken, I'm happy to say. I'll be ordering chicks in a month or so. In the meantime, I need to get busy building a moveable chicken coop (chicken tractor). The chickens get a new patch of pasture every day, all the bugs, dirt and grass they can eat and plenty of sunshine. The way they were meant to live. Guilt will no longer be part of my chicken-eating equation.