|Silver Grey Dorking Rooster|
If you're not yet familiar with the concept of slow food, I'll save the smartass remark that it is the opposite of fast food because it's really much more than that; it is an idea and a way of life. Popular fast food chains provide a meal, generally through a drive through window, in a matter of minutes for convenience of their customers.The taste of the meal is up for debate but 'over 200 billion served' is a remarkable feat. Most grocery stores now provide whole rotisserie chickens at an unbelievably low price of something like $4.99. A loaf of white bread can be as low as .89 cents. Hot dogs, on sale now 2/$3. Any meal you desire is pre-made, pre-baked and pre-fried and always at some remarkably low price. For supply to keep up with demand agricultural practice had to change. Industrial livestock are almost unrecognizable compared to their ancestors. Chickens are now crossed a scientific 4 different ways (nothing kinky, just specific grandparents chosen and then their offspring crossed with very specific other offspring...yeh confusing) to achieve the result of a large fast growing bird that produces the best feed conversion ratio. With this 'super' breed you sacrifice a lot of the flavor that is found in a heritage breed and you are sacrificing the identity of the animal. Chickens that are ready to butcher in 6 weeks instead of 6 months taste different. Pigs that are fed high energy grains for fast growth instead of given the opportunity to forage like they were meant to do taste different. "Today, the pork industry rests on a three-way cross between a few highly selected strains of the Duroc, Hampshire, and Yorkshire breeds which have been chosen for performance under intensive husbandry." http://www.albc-usa.org/cpl/pigs.html.
More and more of us are not interested in sacrificing taste and the pleasure of good food for fast convenience. All good things take time. Part of the slow food initiative encourages everyone to "slow down and use their senses to enjoy quality food with awareness, learning to choose good food that is produced in harmony with the environment and local cultures." http://www.slowfood.com/international/20/what-you-can-do. One of the first steps is understanding where your food comes from; exactly how did those greasy chicken legs plastic wrapped to a yellow foam board arrive at the grocery store for my convenience, and am I ok with that? How was that burger made that arrives through the drive through window within minutes of my ordering it at that magic 2 way board of endless options that I hide behind in the comfort of my car, and am I ok with that? How many people don't even know any different?
|Muskegon Farmers Market|
Photo courtesy of nancyblujean
I consider growing my own food, having the financial resources to afford organic produce and access to a local farmers market all luxuries. I know some people do not have these opportunities and maybe don't even understand the importance of these resources. There is a world outside of your grocery store and there is a road that does not lead to the drive through window.
When I was researching which breed of chicken I wanted to raise as table birds, Dorkings just made sense for me. Dorkings are an ancient breed dating back to roman times and are known for their gourmet table quality; hence the anticipation for the day they meet their maker. Dorkings can take up to 2 years to reach full maturity; some males can reach a weight of 13 lbs and females over 8 pounds. The three roosters we processed Sunday were only 4 months old, and even though they were of a reasonable size to eat they definitely had not yet reached their full potential. My husband was brave enough to do the deed himself again. We used the same set up we used when we processed our very first rooster. Each bird was treated with great respect and the deed was done quickly to avoid any suffering. They were in a bucket of salted ice water before they even knew what happened.
|Leg of a Dorking Rooster; very dark chicken |
meat full of flavor.