Hell has not frozen over....but

Anyone who knows me or has spent more than 5 minutes in my presence KNOWS that I am a devout carnivore. Like Homer Simpson, I rever the Pig as a magical creature who has given us many gifts, not least of which is Bacon, Canadian Bacon and Ribs. But I don't just love the meat trifecta of poultry, beef and pork, I love all forms of food. While I am no Anthony Bourdain, I do relish trying new and adventurous dishes, from roasted guinea pig to deep fried cockroaches.

However, recently we had a lecture by Chef Tim discussing food safety and sustainable food and my carefree life as an ignorant consumer came to an end. It occurred to me for the first time that as a chef, it is part of my responsibility to know where my food is coming from, how it is feed and handled from the farm until it comes into my hands. As a normal consumer, I was perfectly content to ignore the farm to table movement and relished my 0.99/lb chicken specials. Alas, as a chef, knowing if your beef is fed grass or grain will affect the taste, texture and cooking method that you apply, so you really do need to know.

At FCI, all of the teachers are extremely passionate and Chef Tim, was certainly no exception. Perhaps it was his heartfelt belief in the subject matter or matter of fact lecture style, but somehow he managed to do what I thought was impossible, compel me to join the sustainable food movement. I think it was his discussion on Salmenella and Chicken that I found particularly disturbing. To paraphrase Chef Tim:

"Salmonella is a naturally occurring bacteria which in small quantities may not make you ill. But due to extremely unsanitary conditions at industrial farms, and the large doses of antibiotics and steroids given to the animals, the levels of salmonella in the United States Chicken supply have skyrocketed. In the early 1990's only 20% of the United States chicken had toxic levels of salmonella. A study in 2000, found 91% of chickens tested in the Unites States had levels of salmonella, which could make you sick if not cooked and handled correctly."

I don't know about you but that terrified me. I couldn't eat chicken for days. For perhaps the first time I understood that our insatiable demand for meat, no....that my insatiable appetite for meat and willingness to ignore how food was farmed and handled has contributed to current state of industrial raised meat. Now I am not saying that I will stop any of my friends while walking on the street and tell them that I am becoming vegan, but I do think that I owe it to myself, to learn more about how the food I love is handled.

Well it is dinner time, so I am off to practice my habillage ("dressing" or preparing poultry) skills on an organic grain fed chicken and make a roasted chicken dinner.

Bon Appétit