Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Great Soup

Part of sustainable eating is making every "expensive" calorie count. Expensive calories are those that take a lot of resources to produce. Meat is considered expensive because it requires a vegetable to be grown, harvested, and then fed to the animal. Then the animal is grown, harvested and (usually) fed to the person.

Here's some fun feed conversion ratios:
Sheep: 8 kg feed to 1 kg of live weight
Beef: 8 kg feed to 1 kg of live weight
Pork: 3.4 kg feed to 1 kg of live weight
Poultry: 2-4 kg feed to 1 kg of live weight (Depending on breed)

Live weight does not equal pounds of meat. Usually the conversion to meat is 50-67% of live weight. It makes the feed conversion ratios look even more grim.

On my own farm, it takes 1/4 lb of feed to produce one egg.

Anyway, a dear reader Austen has put together a recipe for making that (free-range, sustainably raised) chicken stretch across many meals. We make stock of our chicken carcasses ourselves and I can't wait to try this recipe.

"Rustic" Lentil Soup

Bon appetite!


Funder said...

I just got a Columbus library card (it's a HUGE library system!) and the first book I got was Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I'm about halfway through it and enjoying it a lot - thanks for the recommendation!

And in the A,V,M spirit I should point out that grass-fed meat or free-range chicken isn't as expensive as the statistics would lead you to believe. Food animals can eat plants we don't directly cultivate, and they can eat more parts of the plants than we do.

I have found a winter farmer's market next Saturday. Hopefully I'll come home with a very $$-expensive but tasty and sustainable chicken for us to eat all week!

sylvia said...

i almost picked this up the other night! (Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.) i picked it up and put it back three times...settling instead for two horse magazines. LOL! will you let me know if you think i should def get it...or check the library?? maybe it would be a good book to buy vs. borrowing?

so..back to you, daun..enjoy the lentil soup. i love making it, myself...but have never used meat. served with a salad and french bread. YUMMY!

Daun said...

It's a good read. It certainly is the least "offensive" and most approachable book that is honest about the food you eat. Kingsolver strikes a nice balance between entertainment and education, focusing on her own journey instead of what's wrong with all the food we are eating.

I found it optimistic and inspiring. One family made a lot of good. Omnivore's Dilemma is inspiring in a completely different way, less optimistic and more disgust about conventional food. It was easy to feel overwhelmed with all the bad going on by the big AgriCorps.

To my knowledge, Kingsolver does not condemn Spenda in the book, in case you are wondering. :)

sylvia said...

LOL. I just finished a cup of hot tea....with SPLENDA!!!

Funder said...

I agree with Daun. It's a great "starter" book for locavore thinking. Diatribe against Monsanto is more than balanced by her own heartwarming (and tasty!) personal story.

I just finished it, btw. I skimmed a lot of the polemic, just because I was already aware of it from other reading. I was definitely fascinated by the nuts-and-bolts of what they ate. I'm going to bookmark their website for the recipes!

I think it's borrowable for sure, but if you've got the money to spare the author would appreciate the purchase!

dp said...

Despite a fairly sunny disposition you will never convince me that the whole planet isn't sprinting towards hell in a hand basket. Omnivore's Dilemma simultaneously convinced me that I should eat less meat (I'm not a vegetarian, but pretty close) and that it wouldn't matter one iota. I know that every little bit counts, but I honestly believe that the necessary widespread changes can only be legislated. Obama seems to be vaguely aware of the food system (better than Bush) but I don't hold out much hope.

I haven't read AVM solely because I HATED The Poisonwood Bible and I fear that I won't be able to stomach any more of her writing. Has anyone read both?

Daun said...

I feel the same way about our rapid demise. Well, I used to feel the same way. And it was that feeling that it won't make one iota of difference that really depressed me.

I have to believe, must believe, that we can make a difference. It's what inspires me to work so damn hard on this farm. If I can do it, any one can. If you look at the statistics and the scale of the problem, it doesn't take a big individual effort, done by everyone, to really make a big difference.

I have to believe that is true.

I am not thrilled with some of the things coming out of Washington, but every speech is so different in rhetoric than Bush, every word is so different. Now we need the actions to go with those words. And I agree with you on needing legislation, or maybe stop legislating in favor of Monsanto for once. THAT would be big change.

I hope I don't come across as naively optimistic. I really am not a rainbows and butterflies type of person. This is just too important to give up on.

I do hope I get to meet you one day. You're my kind of funny.

sylvia said...

*goes and sulks in the corner*


Daun said...

Sylvia! We've already met! And we're going to meet again! And I'm trying to get you to move up the road from me.

No sulking allowed.

sylvia said...

LOL. I kid I kid. But listen to this one....

Wait for it....

he's sending a CV to Calais. Calais!! Freakng burr. Hi, I'm sylvia....nice to meet you black flies that want to eat me alive.

(secretly I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation...canning, huge garden, root crop storage, chickens, pig, beefer....)

sylvia said...

ok..scratch that last comment. I talked him out of applying in east you know where. Phew!

dp said...

No, Daun -- you don't come across as naively optimistic. You come across as passionate and practical and not nearly as cynical as me. Reading this blog forces me to question some of my own entrenched ideas, and that's a good thing. Did you read George Monbiot's Heat? I liked it a lot, mostly because he puts the blame for our planetary predicament squarely on the shoulders of greedy and cowardly politicians and not on mine. He's right in many ways, but deep down I do believe that legislative change can be driven by masses of individuals instead of a few competing interests. But can the American public (by which I mean North Amercan) be snapped out of its stupor for long enough to care?

Obama's presidency suggests that there is hope, and maybe we will see evidence of real change over the coming months. Unfortunately cheap food at Walmart is always going to look like a good deal in a country where people are forced to sell their houses to cope with their health care costs. I think a lot of things will have to give before food makes it to the top of anyone's priority list.

Daun said...

Whew! So still on for Laconia? When is your trip to ME?

Will Americans snap out of their stupor? They will be forced to. Great change may come through legislation, or it may come through inevitability.

I was in Texas during Katrina and Rita. I saw my town's crime rate shoot up 25% when the refugees flooded the city, feeling the paradoxical mix of both desperation and entitlement. People were shot over gallon jugs of water.

What keeps me up at night is the sobering fact that when the oil runs out, the food runs out. The average (North) American puts 400 gallons of oil in their fridge every year. (As Pollan and Kingsolver have pointed out, it would be more efficient if we could just drink the oil directly). For some people, that's more than their car. Our current method of feeding the masses CAN NOT exist without oil. We have so depleted our national soil through pharming that we cannot grow food without petrochemicals. People are worried about commuting to work when oil spikes again. They should be worried about feeding themselves.

Was it Churchill who said "Never doubt Americans will do the right thing, when given no other choice."??

We're running out of choices. I hate to sound paranoid, but it will happen in our lifetime. As a people and a culture, we shifted from small farming to agribusiness in one generation. We can switch back. And we must.

As for health care, I couldn't agree more. I hope the recent panic over the debt doesn't keep Obama from pushing for Health care reform. We need it something awful. Everything it turned on it's head in this country. We need to right ourselves and put what's important first.

There are (generally) three ways nutrients enter your body: the air you breathe, the water you drink, and the food you eat. People should be a little more excited and concerned about the food they eat. Everyone is excited about health care, and believe me, I am feeling the outrageous cost, especially with the SO's autoiummune problem, but food first. We must have clean and sustainable food. How much your copay is won't matter when people are dying over gallons of water.

Funder said...

Ok, yall. I have just baked and eaten (part of) my very first free range local chicken. It was tasty! And the eggs I bought from the same local guy are yummy too. :)

The chicken is destined for probably two more meals for us, then the stock pot for some chicken broth. And then risotto, yum.

Anyway, the local winter farmer's market guy had pictures of his flock in his backyard. It looked like a happy place for a chicken to live, and I'm glad to support him. :D

gotsties: It's Brego's slogan when he's foxhunting.

Daun said...

Yay, Funder! Thanks for bringing us back on the optimistic topic of great soup/chicken meals.

I love the taste of the chicken from the farm down the road. And our broth is quite yummy. I can't wait to taste chicken from my own land.

My eggs are pretty tasty, if I say so myself. People at work are always trying to steal my extras.

Thanks for supporting a small, local farmer. You done good.