It was unfamiliar. It was a little uncomfortable. But before I get to it, let’s take a walk down grocery lane.
Refrigerated aisles of packaged, thick, perfectly pink, trimmed chicken breasts. This is what I’m used to when it comes to cooking chicken for dinner.
But then I have to worry about all the awful processing that goes on in America regarding our poultry and other meats. According to Huffington Post, there are 8 major truths you should know about how America’s beloved bird ends up on your plate (I’d strongly encourage you to scroll through these). There’s even talk of American chickens being raised in China and then sent over to us. (Here’s a video of some of the chicken conditions).
Clean eating is a struggle in most places in the U.S., especially medium to large cities.
But for two weeks here in South Sudan, Cole and I don’t have to worry about clean eating. Everything is made fresh. Refrigerators drain a lot of energy, so if a compound has one at all, it is used mainly for drinks, milk, and small portions of left-overs. Sure, they have to use a lot of oil in order to kill all the germs. But other than keeping a watch on my oil intake, my body feels like food is running right through me as it was meant to be. There are limited choices, but I don’t feel bloated or heavy after I eat.
Each compound has a cook or two. If we are having beans, they make them fresh. If we are having cabbage, they just pick it and chop it up. If we are having chicken, they just select one that’s roaming around the compound. There are chickens roaming everywhere, and they are happy birds.
I’ve never seen chicken go from farm to table until now. It’s a little uncomfortable to know an animal is being slaughtered behind the kitchen and to see it’s feathers still on its body after it’s been killed. When all you know is grocery store chicken, it’s strange to see the process beforehand.
But let me tell you something. I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know what the chicken looked like before it hit my plate. I know it was a normal size chicken. I know it ran around and had exercise, whereas American “organic” chickens can barely stand up without falling over again. I know the food it ate. I know it didn’t have antibiotics pumped into it. I know it lived longer than 42 days, which is the life span from chickling to slaughter in some American slaughterhouses.
So here’s Gloria, the Water Harvest compound cook who prepares what we’re eating these few days before we hit the field for our second week here. We may be here to invest in South Sudan, but they can teach us far more than we give them credit for in regards to integrity and the treatment of creation. They respect each other and the resources around them far more than the majority of people in the U.S.
Compare those pictures to what our chickens look like after the overwhelming amount of proteins and antibiotics we put in them. Choose for yourself which version looks like what nature intended.