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Animal "waste"? Why all animal parts have a purpose in our farming practices.

written by

Michelle Sroka

posted on

May 13, 2024

This weekend, we processed our first batch of 500 chickens. (And yes, that means that breasts and tenders are back in stock!)

The first processing day is always pretty exhausting. This isn't just because we're on our feet for ten hours. It's also because there's quite a bit of labor that goes into responsibly managing the waste from processing.

We might not talk about waste from food production often, but I imagine that's one of your concerns. You'd probably say that you buy food from us because you don't want your body, drinking water, or region to be poisoned.

This topic has been front and center this week, too, since the Guardian published a report about the 371 million pounds of pollutants that Tyson Food's processing facilities have dumped into rivers and lakes over the last five years.

I would argue that there isn't a way for big processing plants like this to exist without dumping pollutants in this way. There's no imagination within industrial agriculture to see these ingredients as anything other than things to get rid of or flush away.

But this is precisely why small, regional processing plants matter so much. This is especially true if you're processing chicken on your own farm - like we are.

The waste from our processing days isn't waste at all. It's life and organic material. The heads, feathers, and intestines are carefully composted back into the woods, where they break down over time and nourish the soil.

This is hard work! It would be much easier to wash it all away down a drain instead of filling, collecting, and dumping buckets, over and over again.

But it's part of our responsible land management. It provides our resident wildlife (i.e. the vultures) their necessary food. And it also nourishes our woodland areas and soil so they can thrive.

These kind of practices can help us re-think what we mean by "waste" from food production. Regenerative agriculture shows that there is no waste. It recalls an older way of farming where all parts of an animal are purposeful and beneficial. When used responsibly, they help the land and people thrive, rather than suffer.

So when you're buying chicken from us, you're not just purchasing food. You're purchasing a set of practices that work against pollution in our drinking water and communities. You're supporting a form of old-fashioned, responsible farming that uses every bit of an animal for good.

And I think that's probably the best response I can imagine to the constant news about corporations polluting and harming the land. The ability to say: here's what I do to support something different.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

old fashioned

pastured poultry

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