I have been blessed to borrow a copy of You Can Farm, Joel Salatin's book telling prospective farm entrepreneurs how to make it work--and also how they can make a new business fail very quickly. The book as a whole is a mix of commentary on modern agribusiness (very good for dieting if you're eating their products), small scale farming, and entrepreneurship in general. He makes the case that you've got to count the cost, start small (generally without buying land), and keep the customer--and marketing--in mind. It's long, but a fairly easy read, and it goes into great detail why the chicken you buy at the store generally loses a lot of volume when you cook it.
Answer; up to 10% of the weight of the bird you buy at the store is liquid absorbed from the tank in which the bird carcasses are chilled. By the way, did you know that in 1994, poultry producers were fighting requirements that visible manure be removed from carcasses?
Mmmm....poop soup poultry! That might be why the broth from commercial birds is grey...
The book also makes the case that if you want good meat, you can do little better than to raise it on grass. To that effect, I did an experiment; I took 2 lbs of my father-in-law's pasture raised hamburger and 1 lb of 80/20 supermarket hamburger. I weighed both before and after cooking. The result?
Both packages lost about six ounces of weight in cooking, and the grain-fed supermarket beef was noticeably more fatty and noticeably less tasty. One could also tell that the pasture-fed beef was visibly more nutritious; it was a deep red, not pink.
The upshot; if supermarket hamburger (80/20) is worth $3/pound, the pasture fed beef is worth about $4/pound when you consider what you actually get to eat. It's not as expensive as one would think--in many ways, it's actually cheaper than what one can get at the supermarket.
(and then you can figure out what all that saturated fat in corn-fed beef is doing to your arteries and pancreas)
In a similar way, check out Mark's link to how to store eggs. Not surprisingly, homestead-grown eggs performed better than those raised in a poultry facility. Apparently, you can also store eggs for months in your fridge. Good to know for when those sales come around.
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