Happy local chickens are tastier chickens

10410950_1467891906795565_4119413320497128298_nWhen you buy chicken or eggs, it’s best to know where they came from. You want to know, for example, whether they are pumped with nasty stuff, if they were treated well, and just how local the chickens are.

The chickens from Feather Brook Farm in Raynham are happy, clean, and well-loved by their farmer, Tad Largey, who practices what he calls “respectful husbandry.”

“It’s providing the right areas for the birds to grow in, and a lot of that really translates into the amount of room they can grow in, so it’s not overcrowded.”

Meat birds are lazy by nature, so he 10450162_1443006249284131_4764586039304199683_nhas to entice them to move, so he separates the water and feed into different areas to force them to walk around. These Cornish Rock broilers are bred to really put on muscle quickly, and have a lifespan of about 6 weeks, from chick to 4.5 pound chicken. In comparison, he said, factory poultry barns are a sensory deprivation tunnel, “where all they do is eat and drink and poop and sit and grow, and that’s not any way to live.”

His chickens don’t get any medication or hormones at all, so some of his chickens do get sick and die.  

“I let the chicken be a chicken,” he said. “I let it dig a hole in the dirt and make a dust bath to keep it clean. I provide good food and clean water, and a safe place to be at night.”10501661_1451207518464004_4218559870606291269_n

He laughs at the notion that letting the chickens into the yard provides them with a natural source of protein, like worms and snakes. “That’s all marketing. They may eat a worm, sure. But If there’s a garden snake that happens to come into the area, oh my god, that poor snake, it gets pummeled. It’s a weird combination of a game of tag and snake grab: you’ll have one chicken with the snake in it’s mouth and another one grabs the snake and runs.”

Tad wasn’t born to the farm. “i have no business being a farmer,” he joked. “I’m a cul de sac kid from Raynham who went to prep school, went to college and studied drinking and lacrosse.” He studied economics, but after college, found that he really wanted to make things, and became a cabinetmaker and kitchen designer.

About 20 years ago, he and his family bought a duck farm in Raynham, and he started off with 6 Rhode Island Red chickens. “I discovered I loved being a farmer,” he said.

He closed his kitchen design business, and went over to the other side of the 10402825_1532238840360871_7367729537512704391_n-1

counter, about 10 years ago.

“I love what I do. I was good at cabinet making, my brain was good at conceptualizing it. But everything is done for a reason. I was in a lot of people’s homes, I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of families, and I saw how they lived, I’ve taken a lot of that experience and put it into what I feel we need.”

So, in addition to egg-laying hens, he started raising 20 dairy cows, a herd of beef cattle, and pigs, rabbits and goats, all raised without hormones or antibiotics. Poultry is his number one product: Feather Brook currently has seven coops, with about 125 chickens for protein, and in another barn he has 800 egg-layers. Largey oversees everything, from egg to slaughter. They process them humanely and package them safely.

When Tad decided to sell beef and chicken meat, he worked in a slaughterhouse for free for three months to “learn how to finish my animals 10314494_1450061808578575_1879646709461675295_nfrom the inside out. It was a terrific experience, just incredibly interesting, to see just how things are put together. From a rabbit to a 1,500-pound bull, they are pretty much put together the same way.”

His most profound lesson, however, was this Episcopalian’s introduction to Halal practices. “Men would come to the slaughterhouse, we would give them a coat and an apron, they would say their prayers, take responsibility for the animal’s life, and they would slaughter it. To me that was very powerful; it showed a connection that people miss. It’s all about respect, peace, pain-free killing, and giving thanks for the life of that animal.”

Tad since launched his own slaughterhouse, and tries to practice those same principles. When he goes to the chicken coop to pick them out for slaughter, he’s gentle with them as he scoops them up, holding their wings and placing them into the crate before taking them to the slaughterhouse, about 50 feet away. They slaughter about one hundred chickens a week, every Monday.

And every Monday, he practices his version of Halal.

“I ask God to not only nourish the bodies of those who consume them but the 65966_1458397157745040_1056020254551155931_nbodies and spirit of those who consume them. It’s the connection that reminds us of our responsibility, of our connection to the birds and animals around them. I pray to nourish their minds.”

He has a special connection to his livestock.

“It intrigues me, the partnership you have with the chickens,” he said. “You make an agreement to take care of them and feed them, and they in turn give you eggs, if you treat them properly. If you are milking cows, it’s a bond you build with the animal. For the other part, the protein part, you raise the animal, you take care of it, you nurture it and harvest it for the protein, and that’s where it gets a little heavy, but it’s something you have to feel strongly about. You’ve connected, and that responsibility of maintaining a life and then taking it, there is a respect you need for that. I don’t mean to sound too deep, but it’s not about money, it’s about providing them a proper environment to live, so they are healthy.”

In turn, treating each animal humanely, so that they live a stress-free life, also 10622904_1467892113462211_1980983221022476504_n-1prevents a buildup of adrenaline in the animal, which he believes affects the flavor and texture of the meat.

“I think it makes a difference. I know it makes a difference. I think that’s why people buy these. It’s not just a factory line. You can taste the environment in their produce.”

It’s a small operation at Feather Brook. He’s helped by Regina from Bridgewater, and Logan from Somerville, and sometimes his kids, Hugh and Shannon, when they are home from college. Tad was selling his chicken at SOWA when he met the Something GUD team, and he felt that their values about sustainability matched up.  He also realized that they could handle the part of the business he liked the least, distribution.

What Tad likes best about working with Something GUD is their shared goal to support local farms. He was inspired to, in turn, help other farmers expand,
and has partnerships with local pig and cow farmers.

“Buying local, you are making your community a viable living entity. We are able to support ourselves. Sustainable has to make sense, and it has to make
money. We are creating a sustainable economy. We’re all in this together. We need to have farmers to create food, and we need eaters.”

Something GUD sells Feather Brook whole and half chickens, thighs, drumsticks, wings and breasts, as well as rabbit meat. 

And just in time for cold and flu season, a recipe for chicken stock:


Chicken stock recipe, from Feather Brook Farms

Place 2 packages of Feather Brook Farms chicken legs in a big pot with sautéed10417644_1462652987319457_8100696574757373172_n onions and garlic with 8-10 cups of water, some carrots celery, onions, black peppercorn, and bay leaves.  Let it cook on medium to low heat for 3-4 hours.

Shut off the heat and let it get to room temp. Remove chicken and strain the vegetables and move into the fridge until it congeals. Move congealed stock to a big Dutch oven type pan, add any vegetables you’d like with the already cooked chicken and enjoy some delicious soup.

One fish, two fish, redfish, bluefish

Monkfish and redfish from Something GUD

This dish, courtesy of Something GUD ingredients: salad greens (with ranch dressing); monkfish, cajun-blackened redfish, and roasted root vegetables.

In my first Catch of the Week order from Something GUD, I was surprised to see a package of fish called scup. I vaguely recalled that there was such a fish, but that’s it. However, there was a QR code on the fish, so I scanned it with my phone, wondering if it would tell me a recipe or something.

No recipe, but I found out everything but that fishie’s horoscope, thanks to the website of fish distributor Red’s Best. It was caught by Fisherman Tom Dowd on the fishing vessel Equinox, using Otter Trawl gear, and anchored in the port of Falmouth. It was caught wild, and sustainably harvested.

Sometimes a good fishmonger or market knows where your fish came from. Sometimes the information gets a little lost out to sea. That’s the cool thing about fish purchased from Red’s Best: it’s traceable. You know not only about the fish you just purchased, but also information about the fisherman, the boat and gear type, and port that it came in from.

Further research on the Red’s Best website showed that Dowd has been a self-employed fisherman since 1970, after serving in the Coast Guard, and likes to fish in Nantucket Sound, close to home. I like knowing something about my fisherman.

Not only are all the fish from Red’s local fish, but Red’s Best also controls the physical chain of custody, delivering it from vessel to the customer, in this case, via Something GUD, all the while maintaining temps and sanitary conditions. Red’s Best boasts fish often days fresher than what is sold in supermarkets for the same price, because it skips the fish market and auction house. Many sushi chefs order from Red’s for this reason.

In other words, it’s an opportunity to trust that your wild seafood and fish  are caught locally, labeled correctly, and subjected to quality controls, with minimal carbon footprint.

Boston-based Red’s Best was founded in 2008 by Jared “Red” Auerbach, a young entrepreneur and former commercial fisherman whose goal is to educate consumers and help independent fishermen through technology.

Fish go from the boats of small-scale and responsible fishermen via Red’s to markets around the country. By supporting smaller boats, it benefits the environment and coastal communities; but smaller catches means more dock landings, which means more paperwork. Red’s Best’s software cuts down on the red tape, and helps them to comply with “green” laws, to track fishing quotas, and to profit from catch sales via phone, web, satellite, email, or SMS. This in turn makes it affordable for the little boats.

He added that supporting 200 boats rather than a huge industrial fishing boat is better for our New England coastal towns. “It’s so cool seeing these small towns with working waterfronts,” he was quoted as saying. “Sustaining these communities is good for tourism and everyone’s health.”

While many small fishermen often can’t afford  “certified sustainable” labels, by using the QR code you can track the fish, and look up sustainability reports on seafood guides maintained by National Geographic or Seafood Watch. “We follow all the government rules, give you all the info on this fish, and you can make your own decision,” said Auerbach.


So… about that scup. Was it a trash fish? It’s not a household name like cod, haddock, or flounder, although that’s also often available at Something GUD. Through a little research, I learned that scup, also known as porgy, is a plentiful and sustainable yet underutilized fish. Cooked in butter, salt and pepper, it was easy to make, and reminded me of scallops. I can’t wait to get more.

When I ordered a Pescatarian box, it came with three orders of fish: monkfish, scallops and redfish. Now, I get scallops all the time, but I would never had thought about buying the other two, which was a good thing. Sometimes I just get into a rut of picking up cod/salmon/tilapia rut, with an occasional trout.But I like trying new food.

Scallops are one of my favorite fast-food dishes. Saute them in olive oil and butter, with salt, pepper and a lemon squeeze, and boom, it’s dinner. But I had wondered whether they were sustainable, or more importantly, responsibly taken from the water. Thanks to my QR report, and a quick check with Seafood Watch, I eased my mind, learning that scallops thrive on plankton, so no questionable fish feed or antibiotics are necessary; they’re native to this area, and harvesting them causes no environmental harm.

Monkfish? Again, this local and sustainable fish is something I usually ignore at the market. But since it’s in my Pescatarian box, I’m a little more adventurous. And what a nice, sweet taste it has.

The first time I made it, there was an unpleasant, milky sauce that came out of it, so I did a little research, and found a Jamie Oliver trick of rubbing the monkfish with a grind of salt, lemon zest and rosemary (I used the rosemary that I received in the Pescatarian order) and letting it marinate in the fridge about an hour before cooking. This draws out excess moisture, preventing this particular fish from boiling in its own juices. Pat dry, and prepare as you would.

Here’s Jamie’s recipe. However, I used a much simpler recipe from food.com, with a lemon-butter and wine sauce that worked quite nicely.

That left  us with the redfish. I hadn’t had this since, oh, New Orleans I think? Wait, wasn’t this a fish endangered from too many New Orleans cooks making blackened redfish? I scanned the QR code, and it came up with this: fisherman Jimmy Santapolo of Gloucester, who caught it with a gill net.

So it’s not actually the same fish from New Orleans. Acadian or Atlantic redfish, also known as ocean perch, is not to be confused with the redfish caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Local redfish levels had crashed in the 1950s, but thanks to area closures, fishing gear restrictions, and minimum fish size limits to rebuild the redfish population, the Acadian redfish population rebounded and was declared fully rebuilt in 2012. The Acadian redfish stock now exceeds target population levels, and is considered sustainable.

i did use a Cajun blackened redfish recipe anyway, and it came out great. Too spicy for our 11-year-old, but he liked the monkfish anyway.

If you want to order some of Red’s Best, you can get it several ways at Something GUD:

  • The Pescatarian box, which gives you three orders of fish. (each order of fish, by the way, feeds 2-3 people.)
  • The Paleo and Gluten-Free boxes, which provide one order of fish.
  • Or you can order it a la carte, and receive whatever Red delivers that week as a “catch of the week” (regular or kosher), or scallops.

As of the week of  Feb. 2, this is what was offered:

The Pescatarian Box:
Red’s Best – Scallops
Red’s Best – Fluke
Red’s Best – Skate
Seasonal Vegetable Selection
Seasonal Fruit Selection
Seasonal Salad Greens
Baby Green Frilly Kale – Schartner Farm – conventional
Rosemary – Gilberties Herbs – organic
Iggy’s Bakery – Country Round

Paleo Box of the Week:
Red’s Best – Scallops
Seasonal Vegetable Selection
Seasonal Fruit Selection
Seasonal Salad Greens
Baby Green Frilly Kale – Schartner Farm – conventional
Rosemary – Gilberties Herbs – organic
Feather Brook Farm – 12 Eggs
Virginia & Spanish Co. – Mixed Nuts
Lilac Hedge Farm – Stir Fry Beef

Gluten-free  Box of the Week:
Red’s Best – Scallops
Seasonal Vegetable Selection
Seasonal Fruit Selection
Seasonal Salad Greens
Baby Green Frilly Kale – Schartner Farm – conventional
Rosemary – Gilberties Herbs – organic
Feather Brook Farm – 6 Eggs
MOM’s Organic Munchies – Goji Bar
Sophia’s Greek Pantry – Honey Yogurt
Maple Nut Kitchen – Paleo Edition Granola

Fresh start vs. fresh-baked goods

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.09.48 PMGoing into the new year, I am at the age where I tend to just reinforce my past resolutions. More exercise, less TV, more family board games, and of course, eating healthier. When I order my Something Gud weekly delivery, it’s the result of last year’s resolution, to eat real, local food. I tend toward the The Pescatarian Box of the Week or the Paleo Box of the Week, which pushes me to create meals heavy on the organic/sustainable foods, and pushes me away from takeout and processed foods. And away from the bakery.400X267_mouslin-tart

Baked goods have been a little too attached to these hips, so I was going at a good gluten-free pace until a couple of weeks ago, when my son got hungry. He’s 11, and because he seems to be growing an inch a week, so, yeah, he’s always hungry, but on a Saturday morning, we found ourselves in Allston, and like a good Hobbit, he wanted second breakfast. And I knew that  Swissbakers was serving its fantastic brunch.

I like Swissbakers, because it’s a place that makes baked goods with hamswisscroissantquality ingredients. The Swiss family Stohr — Thomas and Helene, and their two sons — bake with organic and locally sourced ingredients in Reading as well as Allston. Thomas grew up in a Swiss bakery, and he and Helene started making bread for their young sons, who, he said, had lost the taste for bread until their parents introduced them to crunchy Swiss breads and rolls. The family opened the Reading bakery four years ago, and became favorite fixtures at area farmers markets, as well as suppliers to area markets … and Something Gud. In 2012 it received the Green Business Award.The Swiss Family Stohr

The Allston bakery on Western Avenue looks like the former car dealership it was, except with a red cow named Lucerne on its roof, and a small children’s playground on the side. One window lists “guest-hugging” hours.

Inside, it’s all sunny windows, hightops and wooden tables that a few families have rearranged to gather for a leisurely brunch. Two clocks on the wall tell  American and Swiss time. There are several stations staffed by super-friendly workers willing to get you items placed at various counters, or you can go from counter to counter to collect your meal, for takeout or table service.

The specials counter, with typical egg and bacon items as well as a Swiss-style garden salad with items such as beets and celery root. veggiequicheDuring the week are specials such as roesti and salmon with sour cream, and a vegetarian soup of the day.

Next is the bread counter, with a wide variety of freshly baked bread. There’s a sandwich station, then a baked-goods counter with rolls, croissants and quiches. Here’s where you can also choose your beverage, including coffee beans roasted by local coffee connoisseur George Howell. Finish up with the last case, filled with cakes and cookies.

“You won’t get scones here,” said Thomas. “This is a Swiss bakery.”

What’s special about this place, in addition to just how good everything is, is that everything is preservative-free, using local and swisslinzersorganic ingredients when possible. The ingredients are whole foods, sometimes organic, with no preservatives or artificial anything. Ingredients like cage-free eggs, organic sugar and unsalted butter, sea salt, and of course, Swiss chocolate.

The food is freshly made every day. “People have to get used to total freshness, which means we sell out of things,” said Thomas. almondcroissant1“Everything is a couple of hours old. Everything with almonds go quickly.”

The items that need reheating are done with fast ovens, not microwaves. They understand vegetarians, but don’t do gluten-free save for macaroons and salad. “Everything should be grandchild-sustainable,” he said.

On the entrance window is written “guest-hugginminiswirl1g” hours; when asked what that meant, Thomas explained it was more of a mental rather than physical hug. “We want to say ‘Thank you,’ because we know you have a thousand options for food. We want you to feel great.”

We decided on the brunch, which was unlimited amounts of quiche, eggs, bacon, roesti (Swiss hash browns), a creamy swiss muesli with shredded apples and berries, challah weekend-brunchFrench toast, ham and cheese croissants, cheese, fruit, and coffee. The food was delicious, although it did launch my ubercarb spiral into the holidays. Even this week, when I pulled into Something Gud headquarters, there was a box of Swissbakers. (Something Gud offers more than a dozen choices of Swissbakers treats.) These were soft and salty, and huge. Could. Not. Resist.

It’s resolutions time, and so I’m gearing up for a stronger Paleo/Whole 30 resolve. But it’s nice to remember that an occasional (and awesomely tasty) slip does not a failed resolution make. Or next time my family indulges at Swissbakers, I’ll just enjoy the coffee, some soup and salad perhaps. Maybe a few slabs of bacon. And try not to look at the pretzel rolls.

SwissbakersScreen Shot 2015-01-07 at 11.08.53 PM
168 Western Ave. Allston, MA

32 Lincoln St., Reading

Welcome to Something GUD

Our team, surrounded by our GUDs.

Our team, surrounded by our GUDs.

We are a group of friends who just want to do Something GUD: promote sustainability by connecting area farmers and food artisans with people wishing for a convenient way to get high-quality, locally sourced food. In June 2013, we launched Something GUD as an online version of a farmers’ market. We’re your connection for a variety of local food and beverages: seasonal produce, organic chicken and meats, fresh fish, organic granola, Greek yogurt, handcrafted cheeses, smoothies, natural soda, salsas and tortillas, pasta, sauces, herbs, candy, breads, pastries, and we keep adding more.

We deliver for free within the I-95 belt around Boston. Pickup is also available at our Somerville warehouse.

“We’re just trying to make things easier for the farmer and the consumer,” says Colin Davis, cofounder and company president.

We are a Massachusetts Benefit Corporation with the intention of improving the food distribution system in a way that is good for the consumer, the producer, and the environment. To do this: we find the most responsibly made local food, attempt to make it as convenient as possible to get that food from the producer to the consumer, and do so with the smallest environmental footprint we can.

We’re targeting a cross-section of customers. The foodies. Farmers’ marketgoers. Those looking to stock the pantries of their kids, grandparents, and office kitchens. Michael Pollan fans trying to eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Neighborhoods starved of fresh produce. The car-free types. The time-deprived.

Something GUD understands that most people are creatures of habit: if a customer can sign up for weekly deliveries of a bag of curated groceries, they will get into the habit of welcoming fruit such as crunchy apples, vegetables such as lush bushes of kale and swiss chard, eggs from area chicken and ducks, grass-fed milk, hormone-free meat. There’s no long-term obligation, and it’s easy to adjust deliveries as needed.

You can order just one item; mix and match what you need; or leave it up to us to make up a bag of items: vegetarian, pescatarian, paleo, and other combos.

Prices are in the farmers’ market/Whole Foods range. The curated bags are a good deal; add on a few items and you may be set for the week, for about $50-$75. There’s prepared whole-foods items like fresh pasta and sauces, soups, and meals. For even busier customers, there’s the grab-and-go boxes, with items that don’t even need to be cooked. Some treats aren’t made with local ingredients, but are created locally, such as our local chocolate makers.

What also comes with each bag of food is a direct connection to the food source. Said Davis to The Somerville Beat, “Distance in all its forms decreases our ability to act humanely. If you make people feel less distance and more connected, they will make better decisions.”

Thank you for thinking globally by eating locally.

This Week’s GUD Food

Look what’s in your GUD box this week!

This Week’s GUD Food

Look what’s in your GUD box this week!

This Week’s GUD Food

Look what’s in your GUD box this week!