Monday, 31 January 2011

Chicken Economics

Last week I bought a free range chicken from a local farm. I have always cooked for my family and am fairly knowledgeable about food.
in London we spent many hours discussing finances; and yet nourishing meals and good produce remained a priority.
Since moving to this rough old country farmhouse; we have spent our financial time more positively.
Writing things down aand holding frank discussions are most useful and friendly.
Everything from a coffee out together to the costly casration of the dog is noted and talked about as a team.In this way flaws in our budgeting become easier to see. One such flaw became apparent as we both became apoplectic over the chicken:
'How mucch?'
'Thirteen euros  forty three centimes'
Our old friend had called us out on a Saturday night to pay for the order. I had expected the bird to cost half that sum; and as we had been visiting the farm on teusday evenings to buy vegetables,eggs and bread, we had not expected to be called out twice in one week:
'They must be desperate!'
In the past we had bought produce from a friend's kitchen garden next to our house; and had enjoyed vegetables and fruit so abundant, so delicious, and so reasonably priced, that we had really been spoiled. Now his garden is overgrown; bought out by a land hungry neighbour; seeking to sell her house at pre recession prices.
Wishing to help the farmer's apprentices we had been paying over the odds for turnips, rutabagas and carrots; thus depriving ourselves of the pleasure of growing our own; even buying in a kilo of leeks when those in our veg patch were perfectly eatable.
I was soon experiencing the unforgetably horrible feeling of'having been had' when, one Christmas in the London suburbs; a free range bird had cost a hundred pounds.
Our calculations revealed that;since visiting the farm, not only had our monthly expenses increased, but commiting ourselves to them could cost us one thousand euros a year and now they were'organising' themselves; summoning us on fridays;asking us to place orders with cheques in advance.Who was benefitting from this relationship, was it us?
This 'bio' nourishment' could cost us the price of two new windows, or a visit to see our family.
This; plus the cost of castrating the puppy that the farmer had gifted us; was turning us into another of his cows, a 'cash' cow.On teusday evenings we would visit the bank and draw out cash.
Before then we had been able to spend weeks without drawing out any cash at all;enjoying country walks.
Our previous life in the british suburbs involved walks through the shopping mall before we could stroll along the Thames and into the park.
A quick tour of our local 'Superu' has revealed free range chickens at around five euros and the most costly guinea fowl at eleven.
The farm chicken itself was delicious; roasted with lemon,garlic, shallots and herbs and provided a rich stock; but this weekend we had roast chicken again; asmall bird costing four euros forty ; the stock was augmented by carrot and leeks; the meat was good; but tough.
I am not making much of an argument for biological farming; but were two retired teachers in a 'fowl' temper, yes, we were!
'We are not going to loose old friends over a chicken, are we?'
More trivial things have caused feuds in the countryside, including uncastrated dogs.
In my opinion; veg boxes are for altruistic townies; and free range chickens; a scrumptious treat.

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