Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Store chicken = F- .... Green Muscle Disease.

I couldn't make this up if I tried. You remember how we had to start buying meat due to ineffective meat management here on our farm? Yeah. That really worked out well.

Before we go any further. THIS IS A TOTALLY GROSS POST. YOU MIGHT BARF! YOU MAY START SCREAMING! YOU MIGHT ACTUALLY RUN FOR YOUR LIFE. DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU ARE SQUEAMISH OR MAYBE HAVEN'T HAD BREAKFAST. I'm not kidding! Some of this was too much to for me and I actually like butchering. Srsly. Last warning. You might want to look deep into Little Mo's lovely and calming eyes and meditate on his beautiful little paws.

First, a picture of my happy meats. They were out toddling around in the fresh air and sunshine. If you scroll any further it's on you. Not kidding. You've been warned.

My meats are happy...... and they sing.

So the other day I was in town and I needed to find something for dinner so fine. I'll just buy meat, I thought. I walked away and went back to the refrigerated meat case in the store three times. I finally just got the cheapest, best package of split fryer breasts and stomped off to pay too much for them. $6.31.

Several nights later we needed to make dinner. Fine. This is what I found:


Green Muscle Disease. In the first pack of store chicken I've bought since February.  What are the odds?

Are you kidding me!?!!

Yes. I was very mad. And grossed out. I stood there angrily staring at the epic store meat failure - the echos of everyone who ever sneered, made fun of, or laughed at us for "doing all that work" by raising our own meat. You know why we do this? Because my freakin'-store-meat is disgusting.

In truth I was a little conflicted. As a producer (for our own use only) I know that these things happen. However, someone needs to get their crap together. Clearly the inspection processes need some revision. Or maybe it's a supplier problem. I don't know.

How do regular people react to this?

But I was wondering what would happen if a "regular" person got this package of meat? Would they know what it was? Would they freak out? Would they call the TV station and go on air proclaiming emotional damage? What would you do? Do you know what this is?

We've had a few cases of Green Muscle Disease. It happens in meat chickens and turkeys. Basically it happens when the blood supply is restricted to that part of the chest muscle. Sometimes it is blamed on... wing flapping. Yes. Creepy meats are so creepy that flapping their wings - just like every other normal chicken - might cause this. Check out their recommendations - minimal light, don't walk around too much when you go and bring out your dead meat chickens, and don't mow to close to the flocks.

Wait... wut? Bring out the dead meat chickens? What am I talking about? Oh.. sorry. You mean you don't know how industrial meat chickens are raised? Here. Let this video warm your heart. THIS IS A GRAPHIC VIDEO AND YOU MIGHT START CRYING. Even I had to hide my face in Nicholas's soft fur when I watched it. You want cheap, industrialized meat? You got it.  

So....did that video get your attention?  For what it's worth, that farmer got his for exposing the secret life of creepy meats. He seemed like a nice man. I do not know if he is still in business or not. But you can see that he's just a regular guy and he legitimately seemed to care about those birds.

Are you still wondering why we raise our own meat?

Yesterday I worked outside near the garage where we are housing our little meat balls. My meat chickens flapped their little ineffective wings all they wanted, they were soaking up the sun, and I made plenty of noise. The worst thing that happened to them was that the geese tried to bother them - but I scooted those honkers away. And a wolf was watching their every move. Kai thinks the meats are the best show in town. Aside from that our meats are very happy.

Our rate of Green Muscle Disease is very low. It's so low we don't officially track it - but it's kind of surprising so I remember when it happens.  Mostly we find it in older meat hens - like 3 or 4 months old...and our worst run of Green Muscle Disease was probably 3 out of 25 birds. But those ladies were were so "old" that they had started laying eggs.

I can assure you that the meat in that package was not 3 or 4 months old. Industrialized meats are butchered at about 49 days. Based on my experience that was about right for the size of the breasts. That seems to be a hard 49 days for a little chicken who isn't suppose to flap his wings.

Are you still wondering why we raise our own meat?

What do you do when you find Green Muscle Disease in your meats? After hopping around screaming, "GROSS!" um... usually just throw that part away. Technically you can trim around it and use the rest of the meat. Or trim it and give the good part to the dogs. If it grosses you out too much then just toss the whole thing.. or to be less wasteful just throw away the breasts and take off the rear quarters.

What do you do when you get it in a package of store meat?

Take it back.

I marched determinedly back to the store, gross meat in hand, and slapped that pack of gross meat up on the counter. By the time I got done explaining the what's and why's the helpful young man behind the counter was just about as green as the muscle in that industrialized meat. He didn't even look at it.

"Store credit?" He asked hopefully. Of course I didn't have a receipt, I paid cash, but since it was the store's brand of meat it's not like he could argue with me.

"Yep." I said.

I warned him strongly that he needed to show that bad meat to his meat manager. While I didn't have any hard feelings toward that store (which my attorneys have warned me not to name in this post) I did tell him that we would no longer be buying meat from that store. We would, however, continue to be big purchasers of cat food. He just nodded, a little stunned and possibly confused.

I headed back toward pet food and thought that maybe we could celebrate telling store meat to screw off once and for all by having canned dog food day for the Dog Horde. I left the store meat free.

So now what?  Much better meat management. Technically our meats are done and even tho we traditionally grow them out a little more we will begin our rolling meat harvest very soon. Store meat? No thank you.

If you are still with me - and haven't started crying or stopped following my on your blog list... and are wondering what you can do to avoid gross industrial meat? You can raise your own meat. Can anybody do it? Yes you can. Just give it a try. You might still end up with some Green Muscle Disease but at least you know your meat was happy.

What do you think, folks? Are you going to give raising your own meat a try? I keep thinking about all those folks out there, going about their business thinking that industrial food is safe and clean. They may have just been fooling themselves. I got news for you, naysayers, I'm not sure it's as great as you think.

Warning and a disclaimer: Let's be very clear here, people, we do NOT talk about animal right issues here. We do not promote or encourage an extreme vegetarianism position. We are shameless carnivores and we like meat. We like butchering. We teach folks how to raise and butcher their own meat. If you have something terrible to say I will NOT publish your comment. If you send me a mean email I will delete it, make fun of you to my real friends, and never think about you again. If you crap up my facebook page with bad comments I'll just block you.  If you just want to fight and don't have anything positive to contribute then go and tell all your lousy friends about it because I do not want your negativity. Have legitimate questions? Sure. If you are that idiot who threatened me because of my chicken murdering ways then know that the only reason I didn't report you to local law enforcement was because you sounded like a twelve year old girl. Thanks for the laugh. Anonymous, negative comments will be tossed in the trash.

Folks who actually want to have a discussion.... If you are a regular person and you got a package of meat like this, what would you do? I honestly don't even know anymore how I'd react because we've been doing this for so long. I'd love to hear how you'd handle it.

Happy Monday everyone! I don't know about you but I'm going to go out and hug my creepy meats. Then I'm going to have them over for dinner.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this - we need the discussion.


Enigmama said...

I honestly can't remember the last time we bought store chicken. We've grown our own for over 4 years. I rarely even order it out because it tastes like bleach. That was just so gross and help confirm our decisions.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

yep, thanks KJ. the whole thing was surprising. and it's good for folks to know about their food. i like knowing my food is outside toddling around in the yard.

Linda said...

Wowzers I have never seen that green ick in chicken before. That is totally gross and I would have taken it back too. Sorry you had to go through that yuckieness (not sure if thats even a real word).

I am glad I read your post over 7 weeks ago and purchased my first 16 meat chickens. They will be 7 weeks old this Wed. and they are growing very well thanks to your help and support. In the spring when I have a better set up I will be doing this again.
After seeing that picture I don't think I will ever buy store bought chicken again. I may end up getting more sooner than spring.

Thanks for sharing.... as always lots of good info.


Alistairsqueen1 said...

You have convinced me to raise Creepy meats

stonenl said...

I have a question. If you could keep mulched leaves dry, could they be used in the chicken house for bedding, litter?

Ohiofarmgirl said...

i was really disappointed, Melissa, so much for trying to be "normal." ha!

thanks Linda! you are so close to victory! yay!

you should totally give it a go, Michele, it's easy AND fun.

hi stonenl! yep you sure can. and it will make terrific compost for your garden. i know folks who have done this. you can also use pine needles if you've those also.

Amanda Rose said...

what are the odds,huh? i am sure you are ready to never buy grocery store chicken again!

as a side note, i used to work as a cook in a grocery store deli, and would fry anywhere from 50-300 lbs of various chicken pieces a day. i have never seen a chicken breast that looked like that. the only 'funny' piece of chicken i have ever seen involved some kind of tendon that snapped back into the breast. when fried, it looked just like a worm! there were lots of hysterics and several calls to the chicken farm that day, lol. all they would say was that it was not a worm, and that it just happens sometimes.

on a side note, your blog has helped me get a better look at the realities of the lifestyle i am working towards. thanks for all the inspiration!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

exactly, Amanda R, i was "are you KIDDING ME!?!?" i keep thinking it was better for me to find it than someone who would have completely freaked out. thanks so much for your comments. i think this may have been a 1 in a billion shot. and yep you should totally try and do your own farm thing. yay you!

Anonymous said...

Sadly my HOA does not allow us to own barnyard animals.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

Anon, some folks have done well with rabbits. they are quiet and don't take up a lot of room. i wont tell if you wont! ha!

Kris said...

Zoning prevents me from even having 1 chicken even though I have 1.25 acres. *sigh* Question - does green muscle tissue poison the meat? If someone cooked that chicken would they get sick?

Thanks for all your wonderfully straighforward, informative, responsible posts. Happy New Year!

Ohiofarmgirl said...

happy new year, Kris!!! and nope it doesnt poison it. "green muscle" is just dead tissues... but there is no way i (or you) should eat it. you might want to consider raising meat rabbits. they are very very quiet. thanks for stopping by!

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