It’s pretty interesting to be here in Ukraine while much of the U.S. is obsessed with eating locally &/or organically. Here, I probably eat as organic as it gets. Usually I don’t really care or think about where my food comes from – I mean, I love locally grown produce in the summers, but I don’t stress about it when it’s not local.
However, I gained a new appreciation for eating locally and organically this past week. I walked out the door on Monday morning to go to school, and what did I see hanging from the fence across the driveway? A chicken. That’s right, a recently-killed chicken (курка, “koorka” in Ukrainian) from my host family’s flock (what are groups of chickens called? A coop?). I went back inside to grab my camera for a picture – it’s not every day that you see a chicken hanging from its feet – but when I returned the chicken had been moved to a large bowl. So I snapped a shot of that. Let me know if you want to see it – I’ll spare my more sensitive readers by not posting it here.
My cluster-mates were kind of grossed-out when I showed them the picture, but somehow I wasn’t put out by the dead chicken. Even better? I came home after language class, went for a run, showered, and before I headed back to school I poked my head in the kitchen to say goodbye to my host mom. In her hands on the counter was…the chicken! Naked. (And by that I mean featherless.) “Добрий ден, курка,” (“good day, chicken”) I said cheerily. “До побачення, курка!” (“goodbye, chicken!”) corrected Anya, with a laugh.
As I walked back to school I contemplated the dead chicken and asked myself why I didn’t blink twice at seeing this dead chicken three times in a morning. “Well,” my inner voice answered, “it’s because – though you know you’re going to be eating parts of this chicken for the next two weeks – you know exactly where the chicken came from. You know just how it was raised – happily wandering the dacha every day with its fellow chickens – and you know Anya will use every single part of it in her cooking.” Every single part is not an understatement: I think I ate the heart and part of the liver in my soup that night. Now if that’s not eating locally and organically, I don’t know what is!