A whole chicken roasted is a Sunday ritual, even a birthday dinner. A dish to be anticipated, requested and shared. It would be wrong to celebrate by eating a bird that had been treated cruelly, was ill, or drugged. Conventional meat chickens (I mean those not labelled free range or organic regardless of brand) could be ill, may be fed antibiotics to make sure they grow excruciatingly fast or be barely able to walk. click here to read the Dec 2012 TVNZ article. This has been much in the news lately and quite rightly so. I would like to congratulate "safe" on their recent campaigns raising awareness of animal cruelty in factory farming in New Zealand.
In my house only free range or organic chicken is eaten. This may sound pretentious or as though we are dripping in cash but the truth is, I would rather go without chicken than eat cheap tasteless crap. Perhaps it is just growing up on farms, or maybe I'm a bit of an old nanna, but in my books chicken is a treat worth paying for.
I wont have it in the house, but here are some other places I wont support unhappy meat either; in a frozen meal, a restaurant meal, a bakery chicken sandwich, a cafe salad, on a plane or a pizza or even at a party. If free range or organic chicken is not stated I am more comfortable being a little hungry. I'm in no danger of starving, I'll grab something, somewhere-else later.
Watching our for the "implied organic" in cafe's and restaurants important too. Like the "Organic" cafe at Auckland airport where the only thing organic is the coffee (I asked).
It is one thing to have a wee rant like this, but another to offer some useful hints, I have been eating organic and free range on a moderate (sometimes less so) income for nearly ten years. The key to making it affordable is not sexy. It is good old fashioned planning and stingy frugalness behind the scenes. Here are a few of my tricks for bringing organic and free-range into range for the meager food budget.
8 ways to get your moneys worth in the organic and free range world...
- Use the scraps, there may not be time to make a stock today, but chicken bones will keep in the freezer until you have a moment, roasted bones will still make a stock.
- Stash it; if you are not making a gravy, set aside the pan scrapings to flavour another dish, adding these to chicken stock gives it a lovely roast chicken flavour, also handy if I need a gravy but didn't get many pan juices(or I burned them)
- Buy on special and freeze to take advantage of good price points.
- Use organic or free range chicken as a condiment rather than the main event, risottos and pilafs are a great place to start.
- Serve heaps of vegetables and pulses with your chicken to keep everyone satisfied and excited.
- Cultivate a relationship with your butcher, support their business and they are bound to appreciate you.
- Serve with fruit and vegetables purchased in the middle of the season when they are most plentiful and therefore at the best price.
- Flavour your chicken meals with your own herbs they add excitement and give you versatility. They are much cheaper to grow than to buy as there is a lot less wastage.