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Whole Foods stops carrying Eberly poultry!


dagordon
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Fenton:

Vadouvan, I think I need to get in touch with you about one of those French-Canadian birds. Sacre bleu!

Let me know.

Bluesman:

Kosher chickens are hand plucked. Non-kosher chickens are dunked in a warm water bath and machine plucked. Some say that because Kosher poultry is not subjected to a warm water bath, that that accounts for a difference in taste. Personally, I think it has to do with the process of soaking the Kosher poultry in salt.

Air chilled chickens absorb no water and that has a lot to do with the taste and texture.

Fenton:

Pontormo, I liked the small size of the Eberly bird:

Eberly chickens come in 4 sizes Andrew.

DGordonLiddy:

It might still be worth it to find out whether the Meadow Run Farm birds at the Fair Food Farmstand are shipped there frozen, or if they're thawed before shipping, in which case the frozen birds there have been frozen twice, and in which case it might be worth it to get one before it's been frozen for the second time.

Highly unlikely, in fact quite dangerous to freeze/thaw chicken not to mention destroying the texture a second time around.

I think it is frozen and shipped frozen.

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1.) If you wish to spend time discussing birds with a farmer now is the correct time. They get a little “off-time” this time of the year.

2.) You should probably use the opportunity to get your hands on a true pastured farm processed chicken before they all end up out of business. It’s easier around here to get four pounds of pot than 4 gallons of raw milk or 4 pounds of real chicken.

3.) The pastured birds can sometimes be a little drier if the weather cycles are too extreme. We found http://www.tejassmokers.com/drunken_chicken.htm these things work great. There are several similar ones.

4.) If one gets a fresh killed bird they need to keep in mind the meat needs some time to relax. If the bird is processed on Saturday and you pick it up from them that afternoon it may be very tough for a Sunday dinner. We personally have a cooler at close to 30 degrees that we hold them for several days.

5.) I doubt anyone is thawing frozen birds to bring to market. It cost money to freeze them. If anything they would take the unsold ones back and freeze them. If you’re buying directly from a farmer at a Farmers’ Market their scale is so small that the air-chilling is not a factor IMO.

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Empire chickens are pretty common, I think; at least, they carry them at my neighborhood Superfresh (5th and Spruce).

Pontormo, I liked the small size of the Eberly bird: for one thing, it's more convenient for two people, and of course that's what the Zuni recipe calls for.  But I didn't find it to be as tender as the chickens of yesteryear (when men were men, women were women, and chickens were ducks).  Ah well.

I definitely like the taste and texture of the smaller birds. I bought a 2.5 lb. Empire whole bird last week...the Wise birds at WF will sometimes be down around 2 lbs.; they're delicious and roast up in 45 minutes or less!

And the Zuni recipe call for some major salting - 3/4 tsp. per pound of bird for 24 hours...something to be said for the kosher bird taking care of some of that work for you!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Stan, this thing looks a lot like the beer can chicken deal. Last summer I bought the weber take on this product for my smoker. Works great and provides a whole lot more stability to the bird while smoking/roasting

That's right. The BBQ store I went into had several and I liked the Tejas because it would go into our diswasher and clean up easy. I hadn't thought about it yet, but we just got a new Bradley smoker. I'll have to try the two together. How much smoke do you think would be nice?

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5.) I doubt anyone is thawing frozen birds to bring to market.  It cost money to freeze them.  If anything they would take the unsold ones back and freeze them.  If you’re buying directly from a farmer at a Farmers’ Market their scale is so small that the air-chilling is not a factor IMO.

Interesting. I'm immensely intrigued by the discovery, if it is true, that most of the chicken we've been eating has been frozen at some point.

The reason why I mentiond the possibility that some chicken could be thawed prior to being brought to market is that it would seem to be the only explanation of the following, assuming that fresh Eberly chicken is not available most of the year: Whole Foods used to get its Eberly delivery on Wednesdays, and they definitely didn't arrive frozen, as we would often go Wed afternoons and buy one, and they were very much unfrozen.

Please explain

Merci

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dagordon,

First, chicken is considered fresh above 26 degrees F. It can be hard to the touch but still not considered frozen.

Second, there are two ways Eberly can deliver chicken during the winter. They can have the chickens inside a house with a door open. As long as they have acess to the outdoors they are legally "free-range". Eberly can freese birds for the winter and then ship them thawed. They can't label them "fresh" but the can call the free-range, natural, organic, Amish etc.

I'm actually not an expert on the frozen rules for poultry, but I do know that most "fresh fish" from the ocean is frozen at sea whole and thawed at the store, cut up and sold as fresh.

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Stan, this thing looks a lot like the beer can chicken deal. Last summer I bought the weber take on this product for my smoker. Works great and provides a whole lot more stability to the bird while smoking/roasting

That's right. The BBQ store I went into had several and I liked the Tejas because it would go into our diswasher and clean up easy. I hadn't thought about it yet, but we just got a new Bradley smoker. I'll have to try the two together. How much smoke do you think would be nice?

That's a whole other thread but I ususally smoke several birds and a pork butt at a time using Kingsford charcoal and a mix of hickory and alderwoods. The chicken doesn't take too long, maybe 4-5 hours with full water/beer pan. Check out Weber's site here http://www.weber.com/bbq/pub/recipe/grilling101/smoking.aspx

and there's a great thread on the EGCI board by Colonel Klink here http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showto...8501&hl=smoking - great information here by a master for sure.

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I just called Meadow Run Farm and fresh chicken is indeed available only during the summer. So I guess this is a difference b/w them and Eberly (so I take it Eberly chickens this time of year are not pastured).

The Meadow Run Farm chicken we made last night was pretty tasty. The dark meat in particular was very flavorful. But the texture wasn't great, I'm assuming b/c of the freezing.

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perhaps this is a debate for another thread, but a friend of mine who grew up on a farm told me that he would never eat free range chicken because chickens when they are out in the field will peck and eat just about anything including chicken feces.

I agree that the raising of chickens in battery cages and debeaking is indeed hideous, but I'm not so sure that free range is necessarily so great either (for the consumer).

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perhaps this is a debate for another thread, but a friend of mine who grew up on a farm told me that he would never eat free range chicken because chickens when they are out in the field will peck and eat just about anything including chicken feces.

I agree that the raising of chickens in battery cages and debeaking is indeed hideous, but I'm not so sure that free range is necessarily so great either (for the consumer).

This may be a difference b/w "free-range" chicken and "pastured" chicken... more info here, specifically under 'What is the difference between "free ranged" and "pastured poultry?'

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perhaps this is a debate for another thread, but a friend of mine who grew up on a farm told me that he would never eat free range chicken because chickens when they are out in the field will peck and eat just about anything including chicken feces.

I agree that the raising of chickens in battery cages and debeaking is indeed hideous, but I'm not so sure that free range is necessarily so great either (for the consumer).

Lots of animals eat poop. Ever have a Golden Retriever? I'm no expert, but if the opportunity to eat poop was an issue, then why would you eat a chicken who sat in it's own poop all the time, as most do.

Chickens for eating are called "broilers" and they aren't raised in battery cages. They are generally (99.99%) crammed into a grow house with 90,000 birds, or just 60,000 birds in the case of "free-range”. They have a food and water supply at the front end and a conveyor to take away the poop at the back end. The birds sleep at night and during the day eat, drink, fart and poop. Once in a while one of the deranged birds goes wild and roams about 5-6 feet away from the food. The efficiency is remarkable, but not a pretty thing. Most people would not eat chicken if they ever walked into a poultry house.

Properly pastured birds are given a very adequate supply of proper feed and water. When they are kept in “tractors” they are moved daily, so they fertilize the soil and forage the fresh pasture bugs, seeds and grass as a food supplement. We have not seen any chickens eating poop. Corn is like crack to them and they do appreciate variety in their diet.

In small scale chicken farming our profit is in the chicken poop. It’s what we use for our soil. For the money invested we’d be better off putting it into a 3% savings account and sleeping in of a morning.

The battery cages are used for birds that lay eggs. In the case of layers, there is such a huge difference in the taste and quality of a hen’s eggs that free-roams around a farm and pecks at poop, getting the bugs and maggots, you would not believe it. Those kinds of eggs are so full of Omega 3 fatty acids that it actually counteracts the cholesterol in the egg being bad for you. The yolks are deep orange, and the whites are incredibly firm and strong, unlike any store-bought egg.

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Lots of animals eat poop.  Ever have a Golden Retriever?  I'm no expert, but if the opportunity to eat poop was an issue, then why would you eat a chicken who sat in it's own poop all the time, as most do. 

Chickens for eating are called "broilers" and they aren't raised in battery cages.  They are generally (99.99%) crammed into a grow house with 90,000 birds, or just 60,000 birds in the case of "free-range”. They have a food and water supply at the front end and a conveyor to take away the poop at the back end.  The birds sleep at night and during the day eat, drink, fart and poop.  Once in a while one of the deranged birds goes wild and roams about 5-6 feet away from the food.  The efficiency is remarkable, but not a pretty thing.  Most people would not eat chicken if they ever walked into a poultry house.

Properly pastured birds are given a very adequate supply of proper feed and water.  When they are kept in “tractors” they are moved daily, so they fertilize the soil and forage the fresh pasture bugs, seeds and grass as a food supplement.  We have not seen any chickens eating poop.  Corn is like crack to them and they do appreciate variety in their diet. 

In small scale chicken farming our profit is in the chicken poop.  It’s what we use for our soil.  For the money invested we’d be better off putting it into a 3% savings account and sleeping in of a morning. 

The battery cages are used for birds that lay eggs.  In the case of layers, there is such a huge difference in the taste and quality of a hen’s eggs that free-roams around a farm and pecks at poop, getting the bugs and maggots, you would not believe it.  Those kinds of eggs are so full of Omega 3 fatty acids that it actually counteracts the cholesterol in the egg being bad for you. The yolks are deep orange, and the whites are incredibly firm and strong, unlike any store-bought egg.

Thanks for the great and quite funny explanation, Stan!

The hen's eggs that I get at the greenmarket are so good - never go back to eating a supermarket egg!

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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You can say organic all you like - but like the farmer said 6 of 60000 go out in to the pasture. People just just don't get farming - the real deal. I think using shi-- to fertilize is better, but has some risks too. WHole foods has a gret variety of products though.

Bell and Evans - everywhere I have been - this is what we used. Great product.

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In the case of layers, there is such a huge difference in the taste and quality of a hen’s eggs that free-roams around a farm and pecks at poop, getting the bugs and maggots, you would not believe it.  Those kinds of eggs are so full of Omega 3 fatty acids that it actually counteracts the cholesterol in the egg being bad for you. The yolks are deep orange, and the whites are incredibly firm and strong, unlike any store-bought egg.

Oh man, that is so true. Hands down, the best eggs I've ever had were layed by the bug-pecking, poop-eating, yard-strolling, early-morning-crowing chickens at a friend's farm. The eggs were bright orange and I'm glad to know that the Omega-3s counteracted the cholesterol, because I must have eaten an entire flock's worth.

I couldn't resist taking pictures:

gallery_7432_1362_49651.jpg

gallery_7432_1362_13011.jpg

Okay, I'm pretty sure that that second one is a rooster. (Hell, the first one might be, too. I'm a city boy, I admit it.) The point stands: I'd feed those ladies a ton of poop if that's the magic ingredient. And if I could find eggs half as good as those in Philadelphia, I'd pay just about any price for them.

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Thanks, it’s nice get some encouragement on an issue that I’m so passionate about. Chickens aren’t much of a glamour business. I spent the first forty years of my life in Los Angeles. As a kid there was a local poultry shop where the guy actually cut up and processed the birds from no further away than fifty miles away. It took me years of trying to duplicate the fried chicken from childhood and only until we had our own flock of birds did I realize it was not my cooking technique but the main ingredient that was the problem.

I like shopping at Whole Foods. It’s pretty and they have gorgeous stuff. Unfortunately, they are large enough that if all the ultra-premium poultry producers put together sold just to them, only a few stores could be supplied.

Hens are a blast! You can treat them more like pets. Broilers, with the rare exception, are Cornish X birds and they are just nasty. You can’t wait to kill them. The birds we are continuing forward with are much more likable and really tough to catch. We have to get them in the dark while their sleeping.

If you want I have a great story of “the PETA lady and our county dog catcher” It’s about our birds.

Andrew,

Yes, the second one is a rooster. The top one is a hen.

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If you want I have a great story of “the PETA lady and our county dog catcher”  It’s about our birds.

Now don't be a tease! Bring it on.

Yes, the second one is a rooster.  The top one is a hen.

Sweet! I knew that all those years of singing "Old McDonald" would pay off eventually.

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We are pretty new to “farming” although we have grown and raised much of our own food for years. We started with a twenty acre raw piece of land near the rural housing development that we live in. There are about 3000 people in the area. We decided to build the dream CSA farm that we always wanted to have nearby. Chickens were a big part of the initial soil program. We are very aware of the issues with chicken manure and mad spinach disease, but I’m not going to go into that here and now.

We first started with the girls. We had about a hundred hens with a large hen house on a flatbed trailer. Inside is straw on the floor, food, water, roosts and nests that roll the eggs out to the side access doors. This house is inside of portable electric fencing to keep the predators out. They are outside during the day and closed in for additional protection at night. The idea of the trailer is to move the birds on a regular basis so they have new pasture with bugs and seeds etc to scratch and pick at. It also distributes the poop around better.

On top of that, we had two Anotolian/Great Pyrenees livestock guardian dogs with the chickens, specially bred and trained to bond with the birds and protect them. They were also enclosed inside of portable electric fencing.

The third area contained a few hundred broilers. Four breeds from French genetics that are usually grown to Label Rouge standards. Our methods exceeded those. Our boy built them a straw bale maze to keep them occupied and amused. It really worked well, and they enjoyed pecking at the bales. We had a few regrets with the maze during round-up. They were very clever and better at running through it than us with a net! These are very active, healthy birds!

In another area we had a mixed pasture that was seeded and grown for chicken tractors with Cornish X birds in them. A chicken tractor is basically a wood-framed, rectangular box with chicken wire surrounding all the sides, but not the bottom. It forces the birds onto new pasture when it gets moved every morning. 50 birds per tractor eat about the correct amount of grass necessary to supplement their food supply for tasty meat.

We hauled special, organic, custom-milled feed from 5 hours away. It took a full day, every 4 weeks, to haul the flocks’ three tons worth of feed. It was a labor of love, to raise the perfect chickens. And perfect food for them to grow and thrive on is a big part of that. We pamper our birds in every way.

Now, Cornish X birds are repulsive birds. Cornish X birds have a pretty high mortality rate. Ten percent is common. We averaged less than five. This means a couple birds a week go into the compost pile. Not very desirable, but just a fact of life. No farmer wants to see birds that have been brooded and fed lost. That’s where you hear the disaster stories of the large growers hauling truckloads of dead birds. 90,000 birds times 5% for 6.5 weeks is 700 a day out of just one building. The big guys usually have several.

It’s not bad farming that causes the losses. What most people don’t know is that Cornish X are bred to grow so fast, they begin having heart attacks and crippling leg problems as they grow, and they either die naturally, or we have to put them down humanely next morning when we move the tractor. To the non-understanding non-farmer, it looks bad. We didn’t like this facet of this hybrid breed, either (and will no longer grow them), but we had to have some so we could compare the French genetics’ flavors and textures to “regular” home-grown birds.

One of day, we were coming home from town and we drove down the road to find a dog catcher truck parked by our pens. He was standing inside the dog pen, petting them. He had driven by a no trespassing sign with our phone number on it, (for bio-security safety of the animals – visitors must wash and disinfect their hands and boots) and he had just gone about willy-nilly touching and handling all our things. Who knows what sick dog he had picked up 30 minutes ago, and now he’s handling our special ones without being clean?

Although we explained our bio-concerns, and barely contained our anger at his dumb attitude, and it didn’t get through to him what he had done. He had the right to come on our place, yes, but not like this! He even admitted he knew nothing about chickens and didn’t know what he was even looking at. He just saw the food and water, the clean, luxurious hen house, and so he guessed they were okay. He did see the one Cornish X that had decided to croak that afternoon in the tractor, but even he knew some meat birds die. But he had to write everything up in a report, and no, we couldn’t have a copy of it, it was secret. But he did tell us someone had been on the property and had seen the chickens in the tractor and thought we were cruel to them and reported us. We’re debating if we should place a flyer in her mailbox inviting people to a rooster semen collection seminar.

With all the bio-security/avian flu issues floating around the large producers have a great excuse to keep the public away from seeing how birds are raised. We were so over the top on our methods we are a laughing stock within some poultry circles. We are proud of how we handle our birds, but will be situated in a much more secluded area when we move.

The USDA will eventually make the rules so ridiculous that small-scale pastured poultry are either going to be very expensive or gone. I’m not saying it’s their intention, but they have become such a behemoth of a bureaucracy they have no ability to do well for the small farms. The USDA budget now exceeds the actual agricultural product value in the U.S. They have now created a new and shiney bureaucratic nightmare for small farms called NAIS (National Animal Identification System) with which they wish to track every animal in the food system individually. The idea started with cattle and radio ID tags. Not a big problem $10/cow is not going to put anyone out of business. They have re-written the poultry rules to allow a full flock to be counted as one. So 90,000 birds are one report. If you have them truly free ranging they need little ankle bracelets and one won’t work for their full life so they may need up to three since they grow so fast.

Many of the high-quality poultry producers are Amish. They have been very successful at it since they have very large families and chicken care can be done by young ones. Their beliefs don’t allow them to let animals bear their mark.

I just can’t imagine how the U.S. government is going to track billions of animals when they can’t even track known child molesters.

Welcome to my world!

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Once in a while one of the deranged birds goes wild and roams about 5-6 feet away from the food.  The efficiency is remarkable, but not a pretty thing.  Most people would not eat chicken if they ever walked into a poultry house.

Great, first my kid brings home a book about how cows are slaughtered and now this - she only eats chicken, I'm not letting her anywhere near this thread :biggrin:

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Stan, thanks for this fascinating peek inside a world that I suspect most of us have little knowledge of. I think it's pretty cool of you to share this with us - keep the posts coming and good luck with the USDA

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Stan, thanks for this fascinating peek inside a world that I suspect most of us have little knowledge of. I think it's pretty cool of you to share this with us - keep the posts coming and good luck with the USDA

Thanks,

I will protest the USDA’s actions but the public is the one that needs the good luck. My primary income is not dependent upon poultry. Somehow I accidentally turned a hobby/passion into a business. No matter what they do we can still grow birds for our family. Not everyone has that option. People in Pennsylvania have it pretty good. You can drive out to a farm and get great birds. I’ll take a frozen pastured chicken over the fresh commercial ones any day.

We’ve had a good look into some facilities since we’ve considered buying one. It started with an Amish 160-acre farm in Indiana with an on-site USDA licensed facility. I believe it’s the only USDA license on the actual farm site in the country. The license is necessary to sell across state lines. Our idea was to produce the finest bird possible and sell to fine restaurants. Processing them at the farm reduces stress. The family runs a nice volume with twelve kids all living in a singlewide. When we figured out how much it was going to cost to add the missing labor to the operation it just didn’t pencil out too well.

We’re planning to move to Iowa so when we told some farm brokers we raise chickens they all assumed we wanted what they knew to be a poultry operation. It gave us an opportunity to get insight into the larger operations. I don’t consider commercial chicken unsafe, just not an environment we care to live in. The smell is pretty nasty and it’s not a pleasant place. There does need to be a way to feed the masses of this country, but the size of the companies in our food chain scare me. Regulation isn’t the answer. They can pass all the rules they want and someone will figure a way around them.

I applaud you folks for having the curiosity to actually learn and care about what you shove into the top hole. The marketing power of the big boys is unbelievable.

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