Sunday, August 5, 2012

Making Food More Sustainable - Chicken, Potatoes, and Corn

This is my second post in the Making Food More Sustainable series. My previous post on breakfast burritos can be found here. Today I had grilled chicken, roasted potatoes, and corn for dinner, so I am going to be looking more closely at how this meal might be made more sustainable in the future. The ingredients used in the meal include: chicken breast, Creole Salt seasoning, potatoes, butter, and corn.


We don't have a consistent source for chicken at this point. Sometimes we buy it from the Good Foods Market, and other times from a "normal" grocery store. Whenever possible we like to buy organic, free-range chicken.

Even though we hope to get chickens in the near future, we do not plan to raise the chickens for meat. While I keep the option open in the back of my mind, we just aren't ready to raise and butcher our own meat at this point. Until the time comes that we're ready to raise our own chicken we will continue purchasing our chicken from others. While purchasing organic, free-range chicken is a good step, I would look to find a local source for chicken, preferably buying directly from a farmer if possible.

Creole Salt

We use a variety of different spice blends when grilling chicken. Today we used Creole Salt, which was purchased from a vendor at the Lexington Farmer's Market. Andrea usually makes our spice blends, but we do like to buy new ones from time to time to try. We've purchased a couple of other blends from this particular vendor, all of which have been tasty.

The first improvement we can make with the spice blends that we use is to always make them ourselves. This should not be very difficult since Andrea makes most of them anyway, with just a few exceptions. The spices that we use are normally purchased in bulk from the Good Foods Market, which is probably one of the better places we could buy the spices from. The next improvement we could make is to replace some of the spices with home grown herbs, although I don't think we'll ever be able to replace all of the spices we use with home grown varieties.


The potatoes that we used today were purchased at the local farmers market. We didn't use the potatoes that we grew in our garden because they are so small. We do still have one variety to harvest, however, so those might be a bit bigger, but it was too wet to dig those today. We hope to eventually raise enough potatoes to last most, if not all, of the year, so we do not have to buy them. This will require a good root cellar for storage, however, which is something we do not currently have.


The corn that we used today was purchased last year at the Richmond Farmer's Market. We bought several dozen ears, and then stored it in the freezer. We still have quite a bit left, but need to buy more this year to put away for next year. We hope to plant corn next year, so hopefully this year will be the last that we need to buy it in bulk like this, although that depends on how well our first corn crop performs.


Butter is another item that we do not have a consistent source of. We like to buy butter from the Farmer's Market when possible, or, if not there, from the Good Foods Market or Happy Meadows Natural Food Store. We bought some last month at the Field to Fork Festival, but that has been used up and what we are using now was purchased from the local grocery store.

The best thing we can do short term to improve on the butter we use is to always buy from a Farmer's Market or a grocery store like the Good Foods Market. I feel much better about buying from one of those sources, as I know they sell local products. A long term solution might be to learn to make homemade butter, but I know nothing about the process. I don't see that as being practical without a milk source, however, so unless we decided to get a milk cow, its probably not something that is worth pursuing.

This meal is one that would be theoretically possible to make entirely from ingredients we either grew or raised ourselves. Being able to do that is certainly not something that will happen for a long time, if it ever does. It is nice to know, however, that it is a possibility, no matter how unlikely.


  1. Speaking of butter and other dairy products, I've been meaning to ask you about your livestock plans. I overheard you and Andrea talking at F2F about making cheese, and I know you're interested in possibly raising alpacas, so I was wondering whether it might be possible to use alpacas as a dairy source. I know people milk alpacas, and I've read about soaps made with the milk, but apparently alpaca milk isn't widely consumed. I've encountered only one mention of butter, and nothing about cheese. Have you given it any thought?

    1. No, I had not given that any thought. We had discussed the possibility of getting some goats to milk to use for soap making, but that isn't something we've talked about seriously yet.