Saturday, March 01, 2008

The Roasting Pan

This morning I ventured to the store and decided chicken would be the meat of the day.

After scanning the selections carefully, I came home with an "organic" bird for which I paid a bit more for the assurance that it was sans drugs and steroids.

This afternoon I prepped the chicken for roasting. As I worked, I couldn't help but think that I was repeating the work of every generation of woman who came before me. Preparing the meat, making ready for the meal.

The differences between me and those many-great grandmothers was methodology - I was using an electric oven, and I didn't have to kill the chicken and pluck its feathers. I suspect they had a harder job.

My imagination went wild with me for a time as I envisioned my caveman grandmother, grunting and struggling to hack at the bird with a knife made from bone. I daresay she did not take the time to remove the fat, if there was indeed any fat on a bird back then. Maybe she simply wrung the bird's neck and cooked it with the head on and didn't need a knife.

The feathers would have been kept for use as something else - a pillow, a headdress, a duster, something. They would not have gone to waste, I am sure.

I created more waste simply getting the wrapping off my chicken than my caveman grandmother ever thought about, I think.

Down through the ages, from caveman to Tudor England to the New World, women have roasted chicken. I think too it was not an everyday meal. The birds would have been precious commodities, valued for laying eggs that provide food every day.

I think about when I watch Survivor on CBS and the winning team gets chickens. Invariably instead of keeping the birds around and eating the eggs every day, the chickens last about two days and are eaten. Usually the rooster goes first and then the chickens are a disappointment in the egg-laying department. Every good country girl knows chickens lay eggs better when there's a rooster around.

I think this is a great metaphor for the impatience of U.S. society. We want our chicken now, gosh darn it, and we haven't the patience to wait for the eggs! So what if we starve tomorrow, today we live like kings!

I think that is pretty much the attitude we have toward sustainability issues - use it up now and worry about tomorrow whenever it gets here. It is not very far-sighted and indeed is very short-sited. How much stronger would those survivor contestants be toward the end if they'd been eating eggs every day? I imagine they would be much better off if they had patience.

I am not sure how I went from roasting chickens to saving the planet, but there you go. Everything's connected somehow.


  1. In the book, "Fast Food Nation" America has been described as having this impatience for their commodities. If you haven't already read it, I would suggest it. I can guarantee it is a meaningful read.

  2. Durn, I'm digging your latest posts! Check out _Affluenza_. It's highly moved me and made a difference about how I see what's around me.

    I've looked to how my grandmother does things lately. Simpler, happier.


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