Processing My First Chicken

In MY ARTICLES, My Farming Experiences by James3 Comments

Last weekend I headed to Hansol Farm in Namyangju for the Gachi CSA farm day. I got there early because I wanted to help prepare the meal – start to finish, with an emphasis on the start. The main course would be 백숙 or Baek Sook a traditional Korean chicken soup popular to consume during the hot summer months. Chicken is considered a cool meat to be eaten during the summer months while beef and pork are warm meats for cooler times of the year. Historically chicken is also a more rare and costly meat because chickens require grains to finish while cows and pigs could get all of their feed from the land start to finish. However with today’s food system riddled with massive grain subsidies chicken has become the more affordable meat.

I arrived at the farm with Anna (my girlfriend), Stream (her partner at Gachi CSA) and we joined up with ByungSoo (the head farmer at Hansol Farm). We needed to process the chickens as soon as possible because they’d need to cook for about four hours before being served. ByungSoo grabbed four big roosters from one of the chicken houses and we took them to an area to begin processing. ByungSoo raises the chickens on his farms for egg production so he did not have killing cones and a set up for chicken processing so we’d be doing it old school. ByungSoo handed me three of the roosters to hold (upside down by their feet – it calms them) while he took the first one and killed it. His tool was a knife. He pinned it to the ground then lifted its head and cut it across the throat opening both sides to bleed out. ByungSoo’s technique was slightly different than the techniques I had read about prior, the main difference being he chose to make one big cut across the neck, while I read that you should do to cuts on each side creating a V. I’m not sure what the difference is but the end result is the same.

ByungSoo and the BirdsByungSoo dispatched the first two then it was my turn. He gave me the knife and I pinned my chicken down, lifted its head, placed the knife against the skin and cut. My primary concern was doing it fast and clean. The knife wasn’t as sharp as I would have liked but it was good enough to get the job done. I held the chicken up to help bleed it out and it was over. Stream also joined me in processing her first chicken and she did great as well. Anna will try it next time – we hope.

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The next step was de-feathering the birds. As I mentioned earlier ByungSoo does not have the set up for processing so we once again had to do it the traditional way. First thing you need to do is boil a giant pot of water. The water should be a certain temperature then you put the birds into the pot and let them soak for a bit. This loosens up the feathers. After the soak we laid the birds down and began the tedious plucking process. ByungSoo was pretty quick – he handled two birds while I did one, and Anna and Stream handled the other. After about 30 minutes of plucking the birds were ready to be cleaned and thrown in the the pot. ByungSoo handled this part but we all watched closely. We saved the offal (heart, kidneys, liver) and the gizzard. We later ate the gizzard sashimi style.

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Removing the Gizzard

 

Gizzard Sashimi

Gizzard Sashimi

Final Thoughts 

One of the things I’m looking forward to doing when I start farming is raising and processing my own food. Up until this point I had only read about it, and despite not really worrying about it having now done it I feel even better about the future. I realize some people love eating meat but will never want to kill the meat they eat. I’m okay with that as long as they acknowledge that they are still participating in the death of the animal. I would recommend every meat eater trying it at least once. I definitely felt different after the experience. I wasn’t flooded with emotion, but I wasn’t the same either. I’m not sure what to call it, but I think it’s somewhere along the lines of appreciation, respect, and connection. For any vegans who might be reading this and who are gritting their teeth about the moral injustice of taking a living creature’s life I’d recommend reading a study that showed pretty conclusively that pasture raised meats takes far less life than that of vegan diets (millions of small animals lose their lives to provide food for vegans). And aside from the morality  point pasture raised meat is more economically and environmentally sustainable than vegan produced food. I don’t think there’s anyone who is going to try to defend factory livestock farming, that is indeed a moral, economic, and environmental mess. In conclusion I highly recommend all meat eaters to connect with their food at least once in their life. It will be an experience you’ll never forget, and one that will help you appreciate what goes into creating the food that sustains your life.

Here’s a link to the study that provides a rebuttal to the “less harm principle” many vegans use when discussing animal death and morality: Here

Dishing up the Meal

Dishing up the Meal

Enjoying the Meal

Enjoying the Meal

Comments

  1. Gabe

    In a way, this was a big step. And the fact that you felt appreciation, respect, and connection has my curiosity piqued. Can’t wait to process an animal on your future farm =)

  2. Pingback: Thoughts of A Wannabe Farmer – Two Years Later | I Wanna Farm

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