Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Homegrown: or A Tale of Two Chickens

Since it's so hard to find healthy food in the supermarket nowadays, what with genetically engineered and heavily sprayed foods presenting themselves everywhere, without even a warning label, I've been growing more and more of my own food, or buying local organic.  Now, I have no problem with sprayed, genetically engineered foods being sold.  If someone wants to buy them, it's not my place to tell them otherwise.  On the other hand, I come down firmly on the side of "right to know".  I have a real problem with someone, anyone, withholding that information from me.  It's MY body, it' MY choice, regardless of the DOJ (Department of Justice) arguing that I don't have a right to choose my own foods.  How any self-respecting lawyer could argue that in court is beyond my ken.  Perhaps they're not self-respecting.  Perhaps the job is more important than integrity.

It will come as no surprise, then, that I raised my own chickens last years.  Five of them, young cockerels, went to freezer camp.  Since I don't eat much meat, most of them have stayed there until lately.  The problem with freezing foods, you see, is the potential for freezer burn.  Canned foods last longer, and I decided to empty the freezer of all the meat and pressure can it.

I went through the freezer, pulling out anything that had been in there for several months. One of the chickens I pulled out was commercially grown chicken, while the others were homegrown.  As I prepared them for canning, I was struck with the difference between the two.  In all the pictures below, the one on the left is homegrown, the one on the right is commercially grown.  The difference is color is astonishing.  My homegrowns ranged far and free, all over the pasture, up into the berry patches, eating grass, weeks, and insects galore, roosting at night in the barn coop with the others.  The one on the right probably never saw the light of day or anything green and living.  The livers, especially, tell the tale.  The homegrown chicken was healthy and both the color and the texture of the liver show it.  It's dark and firm.  The liver of the commercial chicken, on the other hand, was not only lighter in color, but the texture was spongy and it easily fell apart.

Belly up.  The skin on the left is yellow, that on the right is gray.

Belly down.  Same story.

The livers.  That on the left is much healthier looking than the one on the right..

If ever I had wondered if it was worth it, I wonder no more.


  1. Really very interesting.
    Obviously I would much prefer the free range chook.
    But apparently the lighter liver is preferred by some (taste wise) and indicates a fattier liver.
    "What Color is Normal for Livers?
    Normal poultry livers range in color from tan or yellow to deep mahogany red. A yellow liver indicates a fattier liver. The color variation depends on what the bird ate last and has nothing to do with the age or health of the bird. "

  2. That may be true, but the liver was not firm, the texture was almost spongy, and fell apart in my hand. The USDA may think that's fine, but they also think GMO's are fine, too. I disagree. Commercial chickens, btw, are usually Cornish crosses, hybrid birds that grow so fast that at 6 weeks they cannot support their own weight and sometimes just keel over dead.

  3. Yes its a bit of a worry the way plants and animals are bred to grow as fast as possible.
    You would have to think it could be at the cost of lower nutritional quality.

  4. I came across this post/blog this morning and have to say 2 things: 1) is YES 100% you are so right and it is worth it to raise your own food! Even if plucking chickens is a pain the patoot! and 2)...when I read about the freezer burn...ya know, it ain't a perfect can soak meat prior to cooking in a little baking soda water for a bit and most of the freezer burn will rehydrate into chicken (or beef or what not)...I'm not very scientific or precise with it. I just scoop a spoon or 2 of arm and hammer into some water, stir it up, and plop my chicken in it for a bit while I prep other stuff...anyways I love your blog...I'll be back to read more ;)


Moderation is just so I'm aware of your comment.