......and a whole lot has changed in the culinary world along the way.
One of the positive changes is the greater availability of heritage livestock breeds. People are raising all sorts of old-time breeds, in poultry, hogs, and even cows.
I'd say interest in heritage livestock right now is about where heirloom vegetables were in the early to mid-90s; that is, it's sort of an agricultural subculture with ever growing numbers of participants. If it follows the same progression, we're sure to see many of those varieties mainstreamed in the near future. Meanwhile, if you search around, you can find them.
Shromgirl, I know, has been very active on the hog end, and can probably make references. Poultry probably is even bigger, in terms of breeders, because there were so many more varieties, and they require less room.
All in all, it's a great time for real food.
Thanks very much. It's funny that this thread was started a decade ago and now we actually have some chickens to talk about!
We're hatching our first white American Bresse this week; the first ever hatched in America to the best of my knowledge. We will be building them a rolling coop to put out on pasture in a couple of months.
The American Bresse are beautiful birds with muscular bodies and balanced proportions. What I hadn't read but have now experienced is that they also have excellent personalities. They're confident and inquisitive, and even the hens --commonly flighty in other breeds-- are calm and enjoy people.
D'Artagnan Farms-- It's a domestically bred blue footed chicken that's the closest you can get to in the U.S. Apparently the French are very proprietary and have not let any Bresse chicken eggs get smuggled out of the country! Warning: they are very expensive and come with the feet on which you have to figure out how to lop off.
Until recently it is true that the only birds available in the US were the blue-footed chicken; a Bresse facsimile bred to look like a Bresse but genetically not an authentic Bresse. This changed in 2011. There are now authentic Bresse in the United States.
While it is true the French government banned the export of live Bresse, other European countries did not. And, over time, small flocks of authentic Bresse were established in a few of those other European countries. Greenfire Farms legally imported chickens from these other European countries. In 2011, our imported Bresse were approved with a USDA import permit and quarantined for 30 days in the USDA quarantine facility in New York. We call the birds we raise American Bresse to distinguish them from birds hatched in France. But, the parent stock of our birds traces its lineage directly to the Bresse of France.
While it is true the French government banned the export of live Bresse, other European countries did not. And, over time, small flocks of authentic Bresse were established in a few of those other European countries. Greenfire Farms legally imported chickens from these other European countries.
So if the French government banned the export of live Bresse, those other European countries got their Bresse chickens... illegally? Then Greenfire Farms legally imported illegal chickens?
For years Bresse have been in a number of European countries other than France. For example, here's an article that addresses Bresse being raised in the Netherlands:
It is not illegal to import into the United States chickens from these other countries, nor are the Bresse that are currently alive in those countries "illegal" chickens. Our importation of Bresse was perfectly legal, and hopefully over time it will grow to benefit Americans who treasure the taste of world-class food .
If the French government banned the export of live Bresse, how could live Bress end up legally in other countries?
I recently acquired Bresse eggs from a farm that had been commercially producing them here in California, one of the few places that have real Bresse. The company that was marketing them went belly up and they destroyed all the birds. The man that was responsible for raising them salvaged 360 eggs. I have eggs due to hatch in 3 days, there are 140 eggs that made it into the hatching tray. I am interested in marketing the meat. Not sure how to go about that. Anyone interested, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The only real Bresse chicken (or eggs for that matter) are in Bresse. Just like you cannot have any real Champagne from California or China or Russia, or from any French region other than the region of Champagne for that matter. If I buy a chicken egg in Bresse and drive 20 miles in one direction so that I am now outside the region of Bresse and raise a chicken, I cannot legally call it a Bresse chicken.
All names don't mean the same thing, and all names aren't controlled. I've never claimed that French Fries came from France or Italian dressing came from Italy. But Bresse chicken's are a controlled application and their name means something very specific: that the chicken were born AND RAISED under strictly specified rules and guidelines in the Bresse country. Just like you can't buy Champagne grapes and grow them in China and call it "Champagne wine", you can't get a Bresse egg, raise the chicken in the U.S. and call it a "Bresse chicken".
I was born and raised just a few miles from Bresse, and yet we had no right to name our chicken "Bresse" chicken, just because we weren't IN Bresse. I find it amusing that someone would today raise chicken in the U.S. and claim that they are "TRUE Bresse chicken".
I suppose that would be ok.
The breed and the selection are only a part of what makes "Poulet de Bresse". The way they are raised, the strict feeding times (the chicken have to be able to peck around early in the morning and late at night, which means more work for the farmers), the space alloted for them to roam, the local Bresse soil and grain, the absence of antibiotic treatments and many other factors all contribute to the famous taste of those chickens.
In passing: I have tried the D'Artagnan blue-footed chickens, and was not persuaded that the quality is worth the enormous price. I find it particularly irritating that you can only get them dressed one way: plucked and drawn, feet on, some (not entirely consistent giblets), neck and head lopped off. I figure if I'm going to pay for chicken this expensive, I want all the bits: cockscombs, tongues, neck skin, everything. I was told, apologetically, that this cannot be done.
On the other hand, D'Artagnan's standard organic, free-range chickens are very good indeed, much better than what I can find in places like Whole Foods and so forth.
I intend no comment or criticism on what Greenfire is talking about, which is completely different and I haven't tried. (But I will probably be in touch....)
Thanks French Fry. Do you have details on how to feed them to approximate the way they do it in France? I have just a few birds (got a poor hatch, eggs were quite old). We will just be using them for our consumption eventually so I can take the time and effort to do it right. I don't feed my birds any antibiotics or junk.They get a good quality feed and have access to pasture, insects, and organically grown fruit and veggies from my garden. I currently raise Marans and Buff Orps. I raised Freedom Rangers for meat last year. They were quite good but as they are a hybrid, they don't breed true. We like the idea of a sustainable breed like the Blue Footed Whatever I Will Call them (not Bresse!). Any suggestions on the feeding regime would be greatly appreciated
I do not have all the details, however you can find them online. Here is all the legal information:
... with all the information you are looking for at the following link: