One less rooster means 20 educated people 

Slow Food Cycle Sunday draws more than 3,000 participants

click to enlarge FREEZER BOUND Delores Los shows Slow Food cycle Sunday participants what happens to a chicken between the end of its life and final freezer preparations.
  • FREEZER BOUND Delores Los shows Slow Food cycle Sunday participants what happens to a chicken between the end of its life and final freezer preparations.

At the very end of the Slow Food Cycle Sunday, those who went the full 25k got the real deal.

In an effort to share what really happens to our food before it ends up on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic at your grocery store, Delores Los converted a live rooster into meat for her freezer to be eventually turned into dinner.

A group of about 20 people watch as Los coolly takes a rooster, places it into a tin slaughtering funnel and starts explaining what would happen next.

"You're not going to do that now, are you?" asks one late arrival to the chicken coop.

Los confirms the plan and says: "This is what happens to your food. This is how you get your chicken."

She points out that most grocery store chickens come from factories and she believes the factory process is different from the one she uses.

"I wouldn't know what is done there and wouldn't want to know," Los says as she slides the bird into the funnel.

She stuns it by putting a knife into its beak. The knife then goes into the animal's brain to complete the stunning process and then she cuts the rooster's throat and starts the process of preparing the bird for freezing. This may look brutal in print and not necessarily inline with the bright and cheery image of the Slow Food Cycle Sunday event in Pemberton, but Los feels it is important for people to know where their food comes from and how it is handled before it's eaten.

The group of people who witness the surprisingly calm final moments of the bird's life include two young fellows of about kindergarten age up to people of grandparent age.

The small group gets to see all the steps as Los drains the rooster's blood then removes the head and feet followed by removal of the feathers.

"Who would like to help come and take the feathers off?" Los asks after dunking the bird into hot water. "It takes a few minutes to take the feathers off."

Two keen volunteers jump right in and help pluck the feathers. The inner organs are removed and Los names each part then dissects some of the organs. Through the whole process Los tells stories of her experiences of life on the farm.

"I used to teach at the Outdoor School, which is just down the road, and we used to have an open house," says Los. "I did this for an open house and the Minister of Education from Victoria came one time — most excited about watching this. We used to milk the cow and stuff like that too."

While the bird shuffled off its mortal coil another event at the other end of life's spectrum was happening close by a chick poked its way out of a shell to meet its brothers and sisters which had hatched earlier in the day.

The rooster demonstration was well received by those who stayed to see it and more than one observer thanked Los for doing the demo.

"People don't see it," Los says as she gives the meat bird a final rinse. "They don't have any idea about it and somebody has to do this all the time. This sort of thing has to happen."

In addition to the excitement at the chicken coop, Los gave bee lovers some insight into how a beehive works. She pulled apart one of her hives and showed the inner workings of the colony and explained how honey is made.

The Los farm was the final stop on the 25k ride up and down the valley. More than 3,200 people participated in the annual ride up the Pemberton Meadows Road on Sunday (Aug. 18). Along the way, participants were treated to live music, tours, spectacular views, fresh food and the hospitality of friendly farmers.

A select few also got to see farm life from start to finish. Eggs hatched and a rooster died almost at the same time within metres of each other. Life goes on and it is business as usual. The masses will be invited back to Pemberton for more again next year at the ninth annual Slow Food Cycle Sunday.

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