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Taste Testing

October 31, 2012

I’ve reported before about the Wild Ramp Market, a new year round indoor market that sources food from farms within 100 miles of Huntington. A few food sources are a bit beyond that as well, but efforts are continuing to be made to identify sources within the 100 miles.

As the blogger for that market, I visit the local farms just as I visit WVFarm2u farms. I spend 1-2 hours there, taking photos and chatting with the farmer, trying to capture their story in that time. I write about the farm including the farming practices used providing a bit of marketing about that farm to the consumers.

Like WVFarm2u, all local farms are urged to be members and the Wild Ramp Market does not restrict membership only to certified organic producers. However, both organizations believe that the consumers have the right to know how their food is raised.

As I visit farms, I often purchase the products and my family has been eating amazingly delicious fresh food for almost a year now. Our eating habits have changed a lot. Can’t say that I have lost any weight but at least over 75% of my food is now chemical free and I am hoping some of my immune system issues (allergies and arthritis) may benefit.

We had eaten chicken from 3 different farms when the Derecho came through. Here in Huntington we only lost power for about a day, so my freezer items were still hard, but we decided to eat those things before restocking. And so, my husband, a wonderful cook, prepared our last supermarket chicken into chicken cacciatore.

A wonderful dish with a very flavorful sauce, we all took a bite and looked at each other in surprise.The chicken had no flavor! We already were used to the complexity of the free-range and pastured birds we had eaten.

In late July I thought a price comparison of items sold at the Wild Ramp Market compared to two local supermarkets might be interesting, especially to people who believe that fresh healthy food is more expensive than processed frozen meals. It turned out the ONLY item which was more expensive at the Wild Ramp was the whole chickens.

So, the inevitable happened. At a recent Meet and Greet event when the TriState Farm Conference was visiting the Wild Ramp, a taste comparison was held.

Graham roasted a chicken from the one of the local farms supplying the Wild Ramp Market and a name brand supermarket chicken the exact same way, side by side in the oven, using a simple method he learned watching Julia Child on PBS years ago. I cut them up and only I knew from that point on which was which.

Interested people were given a toothpicked sample of Chicken A and then a similar sample of Chicken B. I asked if they preferred white or dark meat but other than that, did not ask anything of any preference.

The results were interesting. About 50-50. People who preferred the free range or pastured chicken usually were already eating them. People who preferred the grocery store chicken usually said it was “moister”.

When I informed them that conventionally raised chickens typically are fed antibiotics, steroids and hormones to help them grow quickly and in the processing the meat is often injected with water and “flavorings”, most said they had not known that. Some were visibly disturbed. Some shrugged and walked away.

Not everyone understands.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2012 7:34 am

    I love this story! Reclaiming our health and our food supply is quite a journey…worthwhile and fulfilling. We’ve had similar experiences at our house – getting more & more committed to farm food with each one. I love hearing about yours!

    • October 31, 2012 6:51 pm

      I was invited to Thanksgiving dinner last year at a friend’s house where I was served super-market turkey. I had been used to using organic or free-range turkey for years. I could not believe the mushy texture and lack of flavor (though I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t know for sure she doesn’t visit this blog)! It’s hard to understand how folks can prefer the tasteless, mushy ‘crap’…. 😉

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