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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Maple Lodge Farms (Brampton, Ontario)

In the last Frugal Kitchens 101 (here) I mentioned buying poultry in bulk at a poultry processing plant in their factory outlet store. While I was visiting the kids waiting the arrival of newest grandbaby, we went to Maple Lodge Farms located at 8301 Winston Churchill Blvd in Brampton, Ontario. This processing plant specializes in chicken products including fresh, frozen and processed chicken products. Buying chicken this way is a totally different shopping experience.

The entire perimeter of Maple Lodge Farms is fenced with the exception of the guarded entrance. The security guard hand you a current flyer of the prices and from there you proceed to the small parking lot just in front of the large Maple Lodge Farms building. The building as pictured is impressive in size. Attached to the building just barely visible (white lean to) is the entry point for the live chickens. Immediately upon opening your vehicle doors you will be hit with a strangely sicky, sweet smell that only a poultry processing plant has. It is a mixture of the smell of live chickens, freshly processed chickens and almost a hint of barbeque sauce. It can be a borderline offensive smell so be prepared. Just to the left of the lowest window starting at the lower level (barely visible) is the entrance to where you order the poultry you want. Go through the entrance and straight up the long flight of stairs. Note: where you order is not wheelchair accessible.

The ordering desk consists of one long wall to the left with information on Maple Lodge Farms nicely presented in a glass display case (1). To the right is a refrigerated meat counter about 10 feet long displaying smaller packaged foods you can also purchase (2). At the end is a glass door not accessible to the public that lists any specials of the day (3). The entire aisle space is about 4 foot by 13 foot so there isn't a lot of room but it is efficient. Behind the counter are staff ready to take your order. It really is handy to know what you want before you get to this point. After you give your order from the flyer, door specials and make any purchases from the display counter, you pay for your purchases then make your way back down the long staircase and wait beside your car for a employee to bring your purchases to you. Chicken other than that from the display case comes in sealed cardboard boxes. The employee will wheel them to your car and load them for you. It's that easy!

While you are waiting for your order, it is quite likely you will see one or more truck loads of fresh chickens entering the plant for processing (5). These are large tractor trails with the trailer filled end to end and bottom to top with chickens. The trailers are ventilated on the sides and roof including fans that operate when the trailer is not in motion. Pull down tarps protect the chickens from inclimate weather and during transport during winter months. Each load transports about 12,200 birds. That's a lot of chicken!

The Maple Lodge Farms trucks (6) can't be missed on the highways and you may even see them delivering to your favourite grocery store. Visiting a facility like Maple Lodge Farms really reinforces just how far our food travels. It is important to understand that any food product travels an average 2414 km (1,500 miles) from farmer to table. Quite often this means ground travel by large trucks but other forms of transport including rail, plane, cargo ships and fishing boats are also used depending on the food. The trucks may pick up their load directly at the farm or at a holding yard where the animals or produce have been trucked to. Once processed the meat, poultry, fish or produce is then transported to either a food distribution centre where it will be further ditributed or directly to various grocery stores. From there this food will then be transported by the consumer to their home. All this travel has an impact on the cost of the food which is one reason buying locally produced food is the cheapest solution. However, buying directly from a factory outlet store such as Maple Lodge Farms still saves you money even though the chickens were trucked into the processing plant.

The cost to get the product from the plant to the grocery store is eliminated so that is reflected in the price per kilogram (pound). Packaging costs are reduced because you are buying larger quantities packaged in one large plastic bag inside a plain (aka inexpensive) cardboard box. Again the reduced packaging costs is reflected in the cost per kilogram (pound). Finally, you are eliminating any overhead costs the grocery store charges to cover the normal operation of the store while making a profit over cost of product. Essentially you are cutting out the middleman so that in itself saves you a considerable amount of money.


1 food lovers commented:

Anonymous said...

Thanks! :)