In Praise of Chickens


Chickens have long been kept for their eggs, the meat becoming of major interest more recently. Once a luxury food — served by many American families once a week, often on Sunday — the bird is an almost nightly feature on most U.S. dinner tables. The came came with the advent of refrigeration and industrialization. 8.9 billion were slaughtered in 2004. But should a chicken really cost two-fifty? Should eggs really cost nine cents a piece?

I’d never considered the question, or the one that follows the purchase of a dozen at $4.50 — what does a 38-cent egg taste like? — until recently. It turns out the answers are “they don’t” and “far superior,” respectively.

The first answer is inescapable if you factor in the soybean subsidies ($13.6 billion from 1995-2005), the risk of bird flu taking off and the massive environmental problems generated by modern factory farming of chickens. There are alternatives, and that brings me to question number two.

Pierpont Farms, just south of Columbia (past Rock Bridge State Park), raises small quantities of “pastured poultry” every year. They don’t do the farmer’s market thing, so you’ll need to go to them. They’re such purists they don’t even raise them in the winter, but soon enough we’ll be able to enjoy fresh, non-factory farm chickens once again.

As far as eggs go, it’s tough to take that initial plunge on the $4.50. Them are some pricey eggs. But pick up a dozen of the Share-Life Farms and I guarantee you’ll notice a difference. First, they’re big. Second, they taste and feel robust, substantive. The wife blanched at my description of our first Share-Life fried egg as “meaty,” but I think it’s apt. Give ’em a shot, and if nothing else, Clover’s has other offerings at lower prices, but I think Share-Life is the best of the bunch.

Author: Scott

I am a married father of two. I graduated from Rock Bridge High School and then Mizzou before spending six years in the Washington, D.C. area. We returned to Columbia, Missouri in 2006.

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