Australian journalist, TV host and blogger Sarah Wilson is working with Inglewood Farms, who produce organic chicken, to reduce confusion about the difference between eating organic and free range chicken.
Food is like fashion and right now, and the world is trending on whole foods, sustainable farming and animal welfare. And there’s one Queensland-based company, run out of the picturesque Darling Downs, that’s leading the poultry pack with its certified organic products. We chat with Sarah about going organic, better shopping habits and her favourite organic chicken recipe.
Sustainability, carbon footprint, farm-to-table, seasonality…these are all trends we’re used to seeing these days. Which of these are most important to you?
Such a great question! I think the most important factor is sustainability because when you make your decisions based on this factor, the others fall into place quite naturally. Every consumer decision I make involves different factors.
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Some vegetables, for example, don’t really get sprayed with too many chemicals and so “organic” doesn’t matter as much as, say, the carbon miles to bring it from Peru, out of season. At all times I think what’s more sustainable overall. With many meats the way the livestock is fed and processed – whether organic practices are used and whether the animal is farmed in natural conditions – is important not just from a health point of view (and ethical one) but predominantly from a sustainability point of view, once you dig down into the science of it all.
How do you convince people to go organic?
Again, it does depend on the product. With food, I teach people to be aware of the products to buy organic and the ones where it doesn’t matter too much – this makes my friends and blog followers relax a little more around the issue. I also like to make the point to my bourgeois mates that if they’ve got the cash, it’s their responsibility to steer the demand with their dollars.
The more of us who buy organic, the more sustainable it will be for farmers to make the switch, and the cheaper the produce (in many cases) will become for everyone. With products like chicken and beef, I point out that we often cook these products in soups, stocks and stews. This process “leaches” out wonderful mineral content from the bones, which are super nutritious and, as I tell those listening, I personally don’t want chemicals leaching into my soup!
Finally, the best way, is to cook them a roast chicken – I like Inglewood Farms – with an organic chook and let them taste the difference (and show them how to cook up the bones afterwards for stock, thus making up for any extra cost they might be worried about!).
Where do you shop for your food and groceries?
I have a little routine. I go to a yoga class twice a week at a studio that’s near a cluster of organic and wholefood shops. So I make it part of the trip to buy up vegetables and fruit while I’m nearby. I stock up as I need things – about 2-3 meals at a time, so they don’t go off. I buy my meat in bulk online via an organic meat site and store it in my freezer (freezers work more economically when full). I always have a range of meat, including whole chicken and chicken bones (for making extra stock), in the freezer. I go to the local supermarket for other staples.
What’s your favourite healthy chicken recipe?
It would have to be my Mum’s chicken soup recipe where I make the stock and soup all in one. It is a great way to use up vegetables and herbs in the fridge, too. I like to use some hearty root vegetables like swede…they’re so grounding. Chicken soup really does do amazing things for your health, especially if you use a certified organic chicken. Some say it’s more effective than Tylenol as a relaxant.
It works like this: the collagen released when you cook chicken bones (in particular) for hours – preferably 24 – feeds, repairs, and calms the mucous lining in the small intestine. Our gut is our second brain. Our gut is integral to our entire nervous systems. Calm the gut, you calm your brain and body. Hence the whole “chicken soup for the soul” thing.
Chicken parm is one of Australia’s favourite dishes – how would you give it a healthy makeover?
Well, I don’t think it’s that unhealthy if you use quality ingredients and meat and it’s cooked in the right oil (which it mostly is if you eat it out). If you’re cooking it at home, simply cook it in a stable oil such as coconut oil, ghee, lard (yes, our grandmothers knew what they were doing) or olive oil, not the polyunsaturateds. Alternatively, you could simply bake it instead of frying it, using only a little (spray) oil before placing in a hot oven for 25 minutes (turning halfway).
Do you buy organic?