My Omnivore Dilemma

Discussion in 'Random Ramblings' started by JayinCohoes, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. JayinCohoes

    JayinCohoes In the Brooder

    Oct 2, 2012
    Sharon Springs, NY
    After having my chickens now for almost a year I'm feeling very torn in how I should eat meat.

    here's my dilemma:
    I now know how healthy and happy chickens should be kept and this is how I keep my 6 sex link chickens. I also know that the cheap chicken that we by in supermarkets are grown in extremely unhealthy living conditions. Yet I only want to buy meat when it is on sale. I will only buy chicken breast when it is $1.99 or less. So I am partly to blame for why poultry farmers have to save money by producing more chickens in less space or growing only hybrid chickens with unusually large breasts. Unfortunately I think I was happier being ignorant and just buying meet because it looked nice in the wrapper.

    So my options are:
    1. Ignore everything I've learned about healthy sustainable agriculture and continue buying chicken breasts in pretty packaging when it's on sale.
    2. Become a vegetarian and continue to keep chickens just for their eggs and gardening skills.
    3. Practice what I preach and only support healthy humane and sustainable agriculture.

    I know that I should choose either option 2 or option 3. Option 2 would be the easiest because it eliminates meat altogether. But if I want to continue to eat meat and stop living a lie then I have to choose option 3. But option 3 seems incredibly difficult because I'll have to change more than just my supermarket.

    As an American consumer I have been brainwashed into believing that supermarkets are the best part of a "civilized" world. We are able to find all types of food prepared perfectly in clean aisles far away from the farmers. Butchers prepared meats so all that we had to do was take it out of the package and it would be ready to be added to any recipe. Supermarkets have become so successful that many of us shoppers never think about where our food came from. We never asked what part of the cow is used to make beef patties or hot dogs. Try asking a supermarket butcher where the meat came from. More than likely he'll say that he doesn't know. But this is what we want. This is progress. We no longer have to deal with a carcass and butcher our food ourselves. All of the hard work is done for us so all we have to do is enjoy our modern living. But have we gone too far?

    I can buy a chicken breast at my supermarket for $1.99 /Lbs and barbecue it on my deck while watching my chickens playing in the yard and never once thinking that the two are related. The chicken breast is not a chicken it's a chicken breast that came from the supermarket. I could never think of my chickens as walking chicken breasts just as I could never think that this chicken breast came from an actual chicken. But now I realize how ignorant that sounds and I need to change. So tell me what you do. Do you buy cheap chicken breast when it's on sale like I do? Do you only eat your own chickens? I'd love to hear your response and any dilemma you have with raising and eating chickens.

  2. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    Apr 15, 2011
    I used to think people who thought about their food on any level were ridiculous on many levels. 'Pffft, like a home grown carrot tastes any different from a grocery store carrot.' I idea how ths happened, as I was raised in other countries that still prepare meals that can be called genuine food. I did know that I'd give my right arm for another pheasant like the one I ate as a kid in Yorkshire, shot fresh and wild that day. I had no idea what I was lusting after was the flavor of an animal living and eating as it had evolved to do.

    I had some rudimentary idea that commercial farming was not something a self-professed animal lover should support, but didn't really know that meant just about everything on the grocery store shelves. When people talked about raising food plants in an environmentally friendly way I scoffed. 'What? Are carrots kept in little cages and abused? Please.'

    The first thing that broke down my cheap food is the best food line of thought was a friend giving us some eggs from hens she raised. Oh! Apparently there *is* a difference between store bought and home raised I learned. After that, I discovered what ricotta cheese should taste like (hint: not like the tough and bland nastiness that comes off the shelves). That is really what made me realize that I was being lied to. There is no comparison between so many products we buy and food you make. I found out I actually did like things like pita bread...just not the tasteless processed thing in a bag that shouldn't even be allowed to call itself pita bread. I started experimenting with "weird" fruits and vegetables, and found out that I had been denied a whole world of flavor and options with the false allusion of 'options' that stores offer. Really, what stores offer is tons of product names...owned by the same companies and made using the same, horrible ingredients. It wasn't long before I couldn't handle the bitter taste I detected in bleached flour, and moved on to less processed flours. I now know that honey does not come in a little plastic bear. That tends to be pollen-less bee product cut with high fructose corn syrup.

    My husband and I are working towards raising our own food. It'll take a while before we can get there though, so we're glad we have found others to do it for us without sacrificing quality. I've found I don't need to eat as much of...or throw away as much of...high quality foods, and don't mind the price tag anymore. I clearly remember my last store bought chicken breast. It was marbled with fat, took a lot of trimming off huge fat chunks, and smelled unpleasantly of mayonnaise. I clue what that was about. I don't need to trim the cuts of beef or chickens we buy locally, or hold my nose. I don't need to wash "sliminess" off my hands...and still have them reek of that mayo smell for a day....after handling chicken. My husband would probably be just fine as a vegetarian, and we have naturally started eating less meat and a more balanced diet as we have switched to foods that are better for us. But, I don't think I plan on giving up meat completely myself, and plan to switch my pets to more natural diets so need to kill animals for them anyway.

    We have gotten heavily into the sustainability and husbandry aspect, but that isn't what started us on this path. What got us going was simply taste.

    Best of luck to you on your journey, whatever you choose. :)
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
  3. redhen

    redhen Kiss My Grits... Premium Member

    May 19, 2008
    Western MA
    Raise your own MEAT chickens for your food..
    Keep them seperate from your laying hens..
    They will be raised humanely, they will happy until they are HUMANELY culled..
    Win, win situation..
  4. kstaven

    kstaven Crowing Premium Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    BC, Washington Border
    In the end if you want things to change. AKA what you class as better food choices for your children and grandchildren option 3 is your choice. Enough consumers speaking from their wallet will effect a bigger change and a quicker change than all the protesting and letter writing in the world.
  5. Mattemma

    Mattemma Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    I don't blame the poultry farmers. If you watch any number of movies on farming and CAFOs you will soon realise that the farmers are usually in the red.It is the COMPANIES that are to blame. They have used the factory model with animals,and folks that just does not work in a humane way.

    I know what you mean about feeding the beast by buying on sale.Most people are barely getting by,and I bet many like me have even used a credit card to buy food.How can we buy organic or local meat when we can not even afford the CAFO garbage?Making meat more of a side than a main course might work.

    I am getting me some meat birds next spring.No naming.No nursing home for them.Straight meat for the carnists in the family. I will raise,kill,and dress them. I will have dh buy me a freezer for moms day.No need to feed the CAFO beast!!!!! I will have to cut some more things out to afford local beef or lamb.When our phone contract is up I would love to ditch the cell and just get a trac phone for emergencies. That would give $50 a month for local meat,sweet!!!!!

    Some of us can find a way to avoid the CAFOS,but most can not or will not.Meat is meat especially covered is sauce or in a stew. I will be happy if I can do what I plan for my family.

  6. mandelyn

    mandelyn Crowing

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    Husband and I have decided that balance and variety is the way to go. The more you read up on it, the angrier your get. The whole food industry is incredibly frustrating. The propaganda from both sides is riddled with truth stretching.

    The $1.99 chicken or ground beef. Are you throwing it in with a box of hamburger helper, or with wild rice and organic veggies? Is it the bulk of your meal, or an accessory?

    There are SO MANY food decisions to make on any given day. You have to decide what's important to you, how far you want to go with it, and what changes you'll make.

    Vegan foods... can also be totally filled with junk. Have to read those labels. Sometimes, it's worse than lucky charms. How do they make soy taste like bacon? Hhhmmm. Eating vegan while turning a blind eye to ingredients and balanced diet can be really bad for you.

    If you really want a headache, grab a package of something out of the pantry. Google the ingredients if you don't know what it is. Then think about how much of that stuff you eat, and what all contains it.

    The deeper you go, the more frustrating it is. You can research yourself right into starvation, reading all the arguments for or against different ways of eating.

    Just remember, a company, government, or organization can do whatever they want if it isn't specifically illegal. History shows we have a long track record of introducing things to the public without having a clue as to the long term effects. What was commonly used in the past is banned now. So what are we using now that will be banned later?
  7. JayinCohoes

    JayinCohoes In the Brooder

    Oct 2, 2012
    Sharon Springs, NY
    I completely agree with you. Poultry farmers are probably no different than you and me just trying to make a living. It must kill them to know that people like me want to only buy chicken breast when it is on sale for $1.99. But I can't afford to buy organic or even local meat even if I know it is better for me. So I think I need to follow your lead and get my own meat chickens. Maybe if I know in advance that they will not be here for long I will make sure to not get attached to them. Maybe I could find a breed that won't be as friendly as my sex links and I won't mind processing them.
  8. JayinCohoes

    JayinCohoes In the Brooder

    Oct 2, 2012
    Sharon Springs, NY
    A few years ago I decided to limit the amount of processed foods I would buy at the supermarket. This meant that I hardly ever needed to go down the center aisles except to buy baking ingredients and staple foods. Don't get me wrong I love junk food but it's cheaper to make it yourself. I could never go vegan because I love dairy and eggs. The idea of eating Tofurkey does not sound appealing and I've tried the cheese substitute. I grew up on TV dinners, salisbury steak and hamburger helper. The idea of making something from scratch in the 60's and 70's was out of the question when you could buy it already made for the same price. Between you and I it would taste much better than anything my mother made from scratch. But now we know better and I still can't go into a supermarket hungry because those center aisle start calling my name and I'll walk out of there with a few pot pies, a couple of hot pockets and three frozen pizzas. And that's just to hold me over until dinner time.:)
  9. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    Apr 15, 2011
    I almost cried watching one of the various food documentaries. They were interviewing a couple who had signed a contract with one of the poultry companies. They were trying to make it sound like a good thing, but you could clearly tell their real feelings in their body language and what they weren't saying. For some reason that got to me more than anything else.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by