I sometimes do my grocery shopping at 1am. I don’t know why, maybe I like having the whole store to myself (with the exception of the guy on the zamboni floor polisher thing). Everything is pristine, ordered, in their rows. Granted, I’ve noticed a higher percentage of older/bruised fruit and veggies, but the solidarity of the moment and the lack of pressure to think about what I want far outweigh the occasional so-so tomato.
Last night was awesome, as far as grocery shopping experiences go. I picked up some Harvarti, which I first had at Britt’s over winter break on a sandwich. New favorite cheese, hands down. That’s standard fare though, not uncommon.
What else I noticed was over in the meat aisle, a new option next to Tyson. Now, I don’t hate Tyson, I think the chicken (and cornish game hens) are quite delicious, but
I can only assume that such a large company doesn’t really give a hoot about the animals, only getting it into those well designed packages. I also realize that most chicken processing facilities accept up to a certain amount of death due to the close quarters and spread of disease. According to Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s book on meat, broiler chicken houses can have up to 30% death rate and be considered healthy. Thats 30% of 10,000 to 40,000 birds. (That book has been my bible lately, expect to see a ton of references to it).
I’ve always felt bad funding what I can only assume is the standard intensive farming practice, but never really saw an easy option presented alongside it. That changed last night. Maybe it’s new (or maybe I’m just blind), but a brand known as MBA SmartChicken was available. They offer two varieties, vegetable and grain fed free range, and a full blown organic, which is everything the first level is, but even more natural.
I know the words organic and free range get thrown around lot, so I’m still skeptical, but the website claims the chickens and the feed are both from right here in Missouri, Iowa and Nebraska. That means less cost to get the feed to the birds and less cost to transport the chicken itself.
I thought, “what the hell”, and got a whole chicken, 7 bucks. $2.85 more than the Kroger brand sold at Gerbes. Not too much more, for hopefully a chicken that lived a much happier life, died in a much less stressful way, and in theory should taste much better because of it. Now again, I’ll have to do some more research into the topic. MBA may be blowing smoke up our collective “green”-loving asses, but I have a feeling short of buying chicken at the farmers market or raising my own, it’s the best alternative right now. We’ll let you know how it tastes soon enough.
Oh, I also found some free range eggs too, only 80 cents more than the generic store brand. We’ll see if they make a better omelet.