Before I joined the Sunrise Farm CSA here in Vermont last summer, I'd never tried parsnips. That seems so shocking now, as I type the...Read More
Taylor Nichols: Paleo ChikFilA Nuggets
Since I’m still unpacking moving boxes,Taylor Nichols, the blogger behind Tayste of Paleo, is going to tell you a little bit about the mysteries of chicken labeling and why it’s important to know your local farmers. Then as a treat for doing your homework, you can take a bite of her recipe for Paleo ChikFilA Nuggets. Take it away, Taylor…
I grew up on a dairy farm in Southern Colorado so there are a lot of times that I incorporate dairy into my diet. My website and my vision are all about sustainability and acceptance of life obstacles along the way. I encourage others to understand where food comes from and to develop relationships with local farmers/providers. Small agricultural companies are the core of my roots. and I only hope that with the help of Paleo, and creating more transparency between the consumer and the farmer, more health-conscious eaters will arise.
In the mainstream market there is an immense amount of false stigmas about organic, non-organic, natural, grass-fed, and free-range products. Within my Farm to Tayble series, I hope to debunk some of these myths and help consumers understand what farming really consists of in the U.S. I hope to give the consumer a birds-eye view of what actually takes place in agriculture and what eating local really means.
I grew up with large gardens, and we processied our own livestock for meat that would serve our family all year ’round. My family emphasized the importance of seasonal eating and making sure every aspect of the animal is not only consumed, but also respected. With my agriculture background and my foodie mentality, I sometimes feel stuck between a more realistic farmer approach and the demands of the consumer.
What do I mean by this?
For example, let’s talk about free-range chicken. On TV and social media, we see brutal images of chickens, trapped in small cages and having zero quality of life. For consumers to feel better about this, we started purchasing free-range chicken, thinking that these chickens are outside roaming around and happy as pie.
But are they really?
There’s no precise federal government definition of “free range,” so the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves these label claims on a case-by-case basis. USDA generally permits the term to be used if chickens have access to the outdoors for at least some part of the day, whether the chickens choose to go outside or not. In practice, most chickens stay close to water and feed, which is usually located within the chicken house. Chicken labeled as “organic” must also be “free-range,” but not all “free-range” chicken is also “organic.” Less than 1% of chickens nationwide are raised as “free range,” according to the National Chicken Council (NCC).
Therefore, a farmer can literally leave the door open when feeding their chickens because they know the chickens ain’t goin’ nowhere when it’s feeding time. They could consider this “free range” because the chickens had the opportunity to go outside. (For more on the issues with chicken labeling, check out this chart.)
Does it make it right? No… but that is the system.
I feel for the farmers because those are my roots. I understand the pain, heartache, and physical labor it takes to create a product from livestock. I also understand the consumers concerns, too. The consumer doesn’t want to be lied to; the consumer believes that they are actually purchasing a free-range chicken.
How do we solve this problem?
Like I preach on my blog: If the welfare of animals is important to you, get to know your farmer. Develop a relationship with local farmers and purchase their products after you understand and educate yourself about their farming techniques.
Quality of food is in your hands.
Overall, I hope this blog post helps you ask questions. I don’t mean to discourage or bring doubt; I want to bring more awareness to local farmers and help the consumer understand that sometimes labels aren’t everything they seem to be. If you do choose to purchase chicken — whether it is organic, free range, or store bought — I hope you’ll try my Paleo ChickFilA Nuggets.
Paleo ChiFilA Nuggets
These nuggets taste just like the real deal. I love this recipe because it definitely brings out the WOW factor. They are crunchy, salty, and packed with flavor. — Taylor
NOTE: Be sure to read the comments on this post! Lots of great suggestions for the nuggets.
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1-2 cups of pickle juice (enough to submerge the chicken breast)
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup coconut oil
Begin my marinating your chicken in the pickle juice. You want to make sure the chicken is fully immersed in the pickle juice. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour
When the chicken is marinated, place the tapioca flour in a small bowl. Set aside
Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. I fully cover the chicken with the seasonings. Flip over and season the other side.
Lightly roll the chicken in the tapioca flour. Try not to handle the chicken too much; this can make the flour and seasonings fall off.
Place the coconut oil in a medium sauce pan or non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the nuggets in a single layer and let cook for about 3 minutes on each side. Keep an eye on ’em! When they’re browned on the bottom, flip over and brown the other side.