This past spring I placed an order with Chicken Thistle Farm, a local and family run operation, for 4 pasture raised, humanely slaughtered chickens to be available this past month.
We learned of them from a friend who served one of their chickens at a dinner party, and it was absolutely delicious. Once you are used to eating grass fed, non-antibiotic meat, you can really taste the difference when you are given a piece that is run-of-the-mill grocery store cut. The organic just tastes better. It is more lean and you can really taste the quality in the flavor and texture.
We currently have three prepared birds in the freezer and one we cooked up the other night with an italian marinade. It was perfect. As I was washing and preparing the bird, I realized that it has been very rare for me to actually cook a whole chicken. Most of the time, even after we switched to organic meats, i would still buy the cuts. Handling the bird was, to be honest, kind of creepy.
I kept thinking - "yep, that's a chicken. Even looks like a chicken. See - there are the little legs and...."
This is the closest I can get to "knowing my meat", since I am not up to the task of slaughtering my own chickens. But even in this stage - sitting in the cutting board on the kitchen counter, all pale and slightly slippery - this chicken might as well have been one of my own from the back yard.
Little things like that really seem to hit home for me and remind me of why we like to be conscious of what we are eating.