I haven’t finished yet.
In the meantime, enjoy a fat slice of education.
Philly Homegrown is an initiative of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation, GPTMC, to “inspire customers to shop within the 100-mile foodshed, to broaden the market for local food, and to amplify the work of the local food movement of Greater Philadelphia”. Wawa is within the 100-FOOT foodshed, does that count? Unfortunately not. But it does allow for late night trips to Whole Foods.
Aside from the economic and environmental reasons for eating local, like reducing carbon emissions, stimulating the local economy, and fostering regional pride, the meats and produce that you eat are frequently more tasty. Mac, head chef of Amada, elaborates:
“During the summer, we source as much locally as possible. I go to the farmers markets at Headhouse Square and the Piazza for our bell peppers and Spanish onions, and the chicken comes from an Amish farm in Lancaster. And it does taste better. The produce is fresher because it hasn’t had to travel as far, and the meat has a lighter, fresher taste as well.”
The chicken in Amada’s valenciana paella is from D’Artagnan, which sources their chickens from small Amish and Mennonite farms all over PA Dutch country. The chickens are raised in a low-volume, truly free range environment, where each is guaranteed to receive lots of sunshine, freedom, and only organic feed. And it’s true, happy chickens are tasty chickens. See for yourself.
The chickens are then processed by Bell & Evans. What makes Bell & Evans chickens juicier than the average grocery store chicken is the three-step chilling process, which uses cold air rather than cold water to chill the chicken.
The traditional method of chilling chickens is to soak them in cold water, causing the meat to absorb 7-8% of its weight in water, which later will “weep” out. If you ever wondered why there is an absorbent pad inside the package of chicken meat at the grocery store- it is there to catch this water.
The method that Bell & Evans uses is to chill the chickens with air, in a massive refrigerator. You can easily see the benefits to this method- the chicken juices are not diluted with water, so the chicken tastes better. The diaper is no longer necessary, which requires less packaging, which allows Bell & Evans to use recyclable and reusable shipping containers. And, of course, there is an enormous savings in water, because the air chill method does not use any.
All in all, Tim and I found the D’Artagnan chicken to be succulent, well complemented by the savory sausage, and with a strong undertone of… happiness? We couldn’t quite place it.