The long and winding pasture...
SOURCING CHICKENS FOR OUR BONE BROTHS, SOUPS AND OTHER DISHES
||A day on the pasture at Burroughs Farm
Over the years, we have worked with a number of Bay Area farms and ranches to source the best quality chickens to use in our foods. This is one place where the "true cost of food" can be dramatic ($5-$6 per pound, wholesale!), and we have always tried to balance nutritional and ecological criteria with a desire to keep our foods affordable.
If we had our way, the chickens we use would all be heritage breeds, raised on lush year-round pasture, fed locally-grown organic supplemental feed free of corn and soy, and processed on the farm or as close to it as possible in an organic-certified facility -- all without us having to raise the prices of our broths, soups, stews, pâté and other dishes.
We have just begun a partnership with Burroughs Family Farms, whose organic, pastured eggs we already sell, to provide us with pastured, organic-fed meat chickens. They're not heritage breeds, which take longer to grow to full size, and the feed is not free of soy or corn, because it becomes quite a bit more expensive, and also slows the growth of the
birds, costing the farmer even more, but it is organic and GMO-free. Over the past year, we have also sourced chickens from Best of Breed, whose operation falls somewhere between pastured and free-range, but their chickens are fed soy-free and corn-free organic feed -- the only commercially available chickens of that kind anywhere!.
We also supplement with chicken meat and bones for broth from Mary's chickens, which are not pastured but fed organic feed. Our livers, and extra chicken feet for broth often come from Marin Sun Farms, which raises pastured chickens fed conventional feed, however the feed crops are locally grown by Mennonite farmers who use minimally invasive farming techniques. The farm that raises MSF's chickens is so open that the birds can wander through pasture and into nearby oak forests.
Three Stone Hearth's co-founder Jessica Prentice is fond of the adage, "don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good." In the dance of competing interests -- breed, feed, pasture, cost, etc. -- we have often invoked this adage when sourcing our chickens. Know that we are always trying to meet the highest standards of quality, safety and integrity while keeping our costs and logistics grounded in the realities of our business.