Yesterday, I bought 2 dozen eggs from my chicken guy, but not my standard free-range chicken (I have a 12 pound turkey thawing for the next week. Maybe 2), and I had to ask where the hens go when it gets cold out. Truthfully, I said where the chickens went, and he responded that they were dead and in the freezer. The hens, on the other hand still live in their portable hen houses, but when they venture out, they huddle together and graze in little chicken mobs, keeping warm while eating bugs. He then showed me the pictures. You can meet them here. I love the transparency of the operation. Their website gives you driving directions if you want to cruise past the farm, and even detail how their animals are slaughtered in their newsletter. When we do buy our bird, we pay $3.35 per pound for a whole chicken... whoa. Crazy expensive.
I'd like to posit that it is not. For my husband and I, one 4 pound bird ($13.40) is the basis of 3 meals. I will agree... it is twice the price of a conventional bird in the grocery store. However, when we are in the grocery store, we don't always buy the whole bird... we tend to gravitate to the bags of boneless - skinless chicken breasts that have taken over the fresh and frozen sections of the store. Where do these mystical, magical legless chicken breasts come from?
My main problem with those who claim that eating organic is too expensive are the same people who will also claim that fast food is so cheap. (Okay, not all... but on a Venn Diagram, there would be a significant overlap of the two populations.) Assuming that 30% of the chicken is lost to bones and fat and skin, the effective rate per pound of my pampered free-range chicken is $4.79. Over at the drive-thru, the 10 piece Chicken McNugget is 5.75 oz of chicken that sells for around $4.00. $4 for a little over a third of a pound of chicken means that the effective price per pound of the McNugget is $11.14 per pound. Doesn't look so cheap from that perspective. Especially since I get free chicken broth from the whole chicken. The only cost is my time.