Last night I wanted to roast a chicken and make some biscuits (yummy recipes to come later). I don’t know why but I thought that sounded like a darn diggity great dinner to me. So off I trodded (in the rain, no less) to Harris Teeter for a few veggies and a chicken.
I faced the fully stocked shelves and examined my options, of which there were three. A (slightly over-priced in my opinion) $16 “organic” chicken. A Perdue Extra Meaty Whole Roaster. And, finally, the Harris Teeter brand whole chicken. I’m not kidding when I say, as soon as I saw “extra meaty” on the Perdue bird I had a movie flash-back.
The images playing in my head were clips from Food Inc. where they showed chicken farms full of birds bred to be extra meaty. They were so heavy the birds could barely walk or support themselves. They’d take two steps and fall. And where were they falling? Why, into their own feces! The birds live in huge structures that are packed to the gills with thousand of birds all eating, pooping and hanging out together until they’re adequately “meaty.”
Ok that’s when guilt set in. Visions of chickens doing a step, step, plop dance were floating around in my head.
Then I looked at the prices. Organic chicken…$16. Perdue was something in the $8 range. Harris Teeter was like, $6. I couldn’t buy the Perdue. I just couldn’t. Not after seeing Food Inc. Harris Teeter’s bird was vacuum sealed in a transparent bag and I could see the juices and what nots and it grossed me out. (There goes the cheap option.) Organic doesn’t mean free range…so that one didn’t exactly set my conscious at ease and it certainly didn’t set my wallet at ease either!
With few options, and a rumbling tummy…I grabbed the over-priced organic bird, quickly ran to the check out line and spent the trip home listening to rap music to get the “step, step, plop” dance out of my head.
That’s mature, I know. I did the adult version of plugging my ears, squeezing my eyes shut and screaming LA LA LA LA!!! I didn’t feel any better about it when I got home, so now I have more questions than answers and I certainly don’t have a position. I know I’m not alone, and I know this isn’t a new dilemma that foodies/people are facing.
Since I have no answers right now, I’ll ask you: how do maintain your budget while making ethical food choices? Because for someone who bakes a lot…$5 for a dozen free-range eggs in comparison to $1.79 at the grocery store just doesn’t compute. Same for milk. Apparently, same for chicken!
So. What do you do? What have you done? Have you had moments like these at the grocery store? How have you found a solution that’s economical and one your conscience can live with?
Interesting links and resources I came across while researching for this blog post:
GastroNomalies: A directory of food, food policy, growing food, home cookin’ food, weird food, and the weird things in the food we eat.
Food Politics: Written by Marion Nestle, a Paulette Goddard Professor in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and Professor of Sociology at New York University.
Food Stamped: An informative and humorous documentary film following a couple as they attempt to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet on a food stamp budget.
PS – Thanks to the tweeps who answered my shout out and offered up resources and links!