January is National Meat Month. At Change Food, we are celebrating the rapid rise in demand for responsibly raised meat– thanks to an increase in consumer information and education, sales at farmer’s markets have grown 371 percent in the past ten years alone.
Americans are the second highest consumers of animal products in the world, and their decisions at the grocery store make a substantial impact on the global meat industry. While the good food movement seems to be going towards a more sustainable system, conventional animal farming still dominates.
52 billion pounds of meat are eaten per year in the U.S alone, and only a fraction of that comes from sustainable farms. For this edition of our Chicken Soup Series, we are looking at how we can increase that percentage and change to more sensible meat production.
Factory farms are growing at an unprecedented rate, despite their unethical operations having been chastised by the public. Kendra Kimbirauskas addresses this concern in her TEDxManhattan talk, “Don’t let the good food movement become only feel good.” She shows how the meat industry is keeping consumers in the dark by placing ambiguous claims on packaging, stating products as “natural” and “fresh.” Industry knows they need to change to keep their buyers, yet it is the packaging that changes, not the product quality.
The rise of factory farms, also called “Controlled Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), have implications that reach into our water supply, air quality and the overall safety of rural communities. Kendra points out that there is a growing population of people impacted by factory farms. Family farms are disappearing at an alarming rate and their land is turned into massive animal factories, leaving entire communities uprooted.
Another TEDxManhattan speaker Michele Merkel spoke out against the impact of these facilities. She says, “Agriculture is the number one source of water pollution in the country…CAFOs go essentially unregulated although they have been subject to our environmental laws for 40 years.” The waste runoff causes massive fish kills, the toxic gases degrade air quality, and flies and odors prevents people from spending time outside.
Families in these communities are fighting against the factory farms and every person can help by choosing meat raised in healthy environments. We like how Michele says it, “If you eat, you have a stake in our food system.”
GROWING SUSTAINABLE FARMS
- Contact your government representatives and ask them to support sustainable farms.
- Sign petitions to protect family farms and prevent the construction of new CAFOs.
- Know your labels. Use this page as a reference.
- Buy meat from trusted sources and ask questions to ensure it was raised to your standards.
Our recipe is from Zoe Maya Jones, a teacher at Alison Cayne’s Haven’s Kitchen. It is a “bare bones, basic chicken soup that is light, cleansing, and easy to make in a pinch.” You use a ‘sachet d’epices’, which is a bundle of spices in cheesecloth that provides a deep flavor. And instead of using a starch, shaved carrots are added at the end to mimic a noodle.
Five Spice Chicken Broth
by Zoe Maya Jones
5 black peppercorns
5 white peppercorns
2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn
2 star anise
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
1 onion, sliced
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 ounces fresh ginger, (6oz cut into 1/2′-thick slices, and 2 oz grated)
6 quarts chicken stock
1 3-pound whole organic chicken, cut into 7 pieces (2 breasts, 2 legs with thighs attached, 2 wings, 1 back)
1lb large carrots, shaved into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
Cilantro and tarragon, for garnishing
- In a large stock pot or dutch oven, combine sachet d’epices, onion, celery, sliced ginger, and chicken stock and bring to a light simmer. Add chicken, placing breasts on top. Bring to a light boil over medium heat. Cover with lid slightly ajar. Reduce heat to low; simmer until chicken breasts are just cooked through, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken breasts to a plate; let cool. Continue to simmer soup, uncovered, until broth is fully flavored, about 1 hour longer.
- Remove chicken from broth. When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat; discard skin and bones. Place a fine-mesh sieve over another large pot; strain broth, discarding solids in strainer (you should have about 8 cups broth). Season with salt.
- Rewarm soup, bring to a light simmer and add the shaved carrots and reserved grated ginger. Simmer for 5-6 minutes, until tender but not soft. Divide shredded chicken among bowls. Pour hot broth over, dividing equally. Garnish soup with cilantro and tarragon leaves and serve.
Brittany Barton is the creative behind SparkleKitchen.com. She offers real food recipes, sustainable living guidance and inspiration for others to become more sparkly versions of themselves.