Here is excerpt from a previous blog post:
"[My lack of eating animal products] will inevitably shift again one day, maybe even introducing meat back into my life when I have the means to buy healthy meat directly from a farmer for special occasions (I'll have to stop being a student first). But only time will tell."
You guessed it, I bought this chicken direct from a farmer! One of the reasons I was so excited to move to Guelph was because of the local food community here. Not only is this town surrounded by farms but the city is probably one of the best in Ontario for being able to access local, sustainable and organic foods. Upon securing housing in Guelph I immediately started looking for local food sources. A simple search for Guelph CSAs eventually led me to the humble site for Magda Farms.
At Magda Farm, they use a grazing system where the chickens are moved twice a day to have access to fresh pasture, and follow the movement of the beef cattle. The waste of the chickens is then added back into the earth and feeds the grazing vegetation. This is a cyclical system that prevents most of the environmental problems that have resulted from factory farming. This farm is about a 15-20 minute drive from our house, so you can't get more local than that! In addition, the slaughter of the animals is done at a nearby family run processing plant with the highest ethical standards. In my mind, you can't get more sustainable that this, unless you go and hunt the bird yourself, which I am just not cut out for.
We purchased two chickens in quarters, skin-on bone-in, at $3.59 a pound. That is more than what you pay at the grocery store but my money is going directly to the farmer, and is purchasing healthier meat, not fattened with grain, or pumped full of antibiotics and water solutions. This meat will also last a while for us. I am incorporating meat, not becoming a carnivore, so once a week or two our dinner will include some pastured chicken. This order, combined with another order we will receive in October, will probably last us until the end of November at least.
For our first meal, I simply roasted a leg piece of a quarter chicken with some root vegetables and herbs. I wanted to be able to really taste the flavour of the meat itself, so I could taste the difference from the conventional chicken in my memories. And boy, did I taste the difference.
Roasted Chicken with Vegetables
chicken (I used about 1.5-2 lb leg quarter, skin on. You could just as well roast a whole chicken here, adjusting cooking times accordingly)
4-5 carrots, cut into 1 inch chunks
pint of string green beans, stemmed and halved
5 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Chop veggies and arrange in a roasting pan. Toss in olive oil, and season with S+P and rosemary to taste.
3. Clear a bit of pan in the centre and place the chicken meaty side up.
|I may have forgotten to take an "after roasting" photo...|
5. Reduce heat to 375 degrees F, cover, and cook for 30 minutes.
6. Remove cover and continue to cook until skin has darkened and the chicken is properly cooked (about 10-15 min).
7. Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes until serving.
The chicken was magnificent. It was delicious and unlike any other chicken I have had in the past. It was moist, with lots of dark meat, and I swear there were muscles on that leg I had never seen on a conventionally raised bird before. The juices that were released from the meat mixed with the vegetables resulted in a wonderful broth that went well with some rye sourdough bread. I look forward to the next meal incorporating this pastured chicken. To get the most out of the bird, I saved the bones, stowed away in the freezer, until I have more to make some broth.
The majority of the recipes I will share on this blog will still be vegetarian, as that is still how I choose to eat on a regular basis and when I am outside of my home. I think this arrangement fits well with my previous thoughts of not classifying a diet, because there are always exceptions. For me, it is my pastured meat from Magda Farms.