Cut back on waste by using the whole buffalo

Yesterday was Earth Day. I missed getting this post done in time for it but it’s a great Earth Day concept I share with you today – the concept of reducing waste. I firmly approve of the notion that the native American Indians “used the whole buffalo” when they hunted. A buffalo provided many useful things, including:

  • Meat: for food
  • Bones: for ceremonial uses, weapons, tools
  • Hooves: for glue, rattles
  • Hair: for ornamental use, ropes
  • Hide: for clothing, shelter, blankets, bags (could be tanned into tough leather or left soft)
  • Organs: for food, brain used for tanning leather
  • Sinew: for thread
  • Tail: for whips, ceremonial uses
  • Poop: for fueling fires

While I am not hunting buffalo, I do try to use a similar mentality in my life as a minimalist to reduce my impact on the environment and to reduce the amount of things I need in my home. I hate waste. Throwing away food that has gone bad upsets me – especially if it’s meat or dairy, because those items impacted the life of another living creature. Sorry plants, I get sad when you go off too, but you can’t look at me with sad eyes. Except the potatoes. Sorry about the eyes.

Anyway. Here are some ways I reduce waste in my home:

  • Buy in re-usable containers. I buy some brands over others because they are packaged in glass wide-mouthed jars. I re-use the heck out of glass jars!
  • Avoid plastic wrap. I hate things in plastic wrap. I hate using “biodegradable plastic” produce bags, because I’m just not sure if they’re lying to me. The only thing worse than plastic wrap over a container of produce (looking at you, mushrooms) is plastic wrap over a styrofoam container of produce. Styrofoam. Humbug!
  • Re-use food items. Leftover mashed potatoes become potato pancakes. Bones from making broth are re-used two or three times. One whole chicken can make several days’ worth of meals. Food scraps are put in the compost pile.
  • Garden. Growing food in a garden means you don’t have to drive to the store to buy produce packaged in containers!

Just for fun, and because people love recipes, here’s how I “Whole Buffalo” a chicken.

“Whole Buffalo” Chicken Recipe:

  1. Obtain a whole chicken.
  2. Remove giblets.
  3. Rinse chicken.
  4. Put chicken in crockpot.
  5. Add spices – salt, pepper, garlic, onion powder, rosemary, whatever you want.
  6. Cook on low, 8 hours.

Congratulations, you now have a cooked chicken!

Make some meals with it! Like:

  • Chicken quesadillas
  • Chicken salad
  • Chicken breast with pasta or quinoa salad
  • Chicken and rice
  • Chicken soup
  • White chicken chili
  • Buffalo chicken dip (hey, THE WHOLE BUFFALO!)

BUT WAIT. Keep those bones and the broth from the crockpot. Put the bones in with the juices from cooking the chicken. Fill the crockpot up with filtered water. Add a splash of apple cider vinegar and some pink salt. You can add herbs or veggies if you like. Cook it on low for 8-48 hours, adding water as it cooks off.

This is bone broth. It’s awesome. Cook it for a shorter length of time (~8-12 hours) to achieve a gelatin-rich broth (it will look like chicken jello when it’s cooled. Don’t be grossed out. It’s magical). Cook for a longer length of time (~24-48 hours) to achieve a collagen-rich broth. You can preserve broth by canning or freezing. My goal this summer is to learn how to can and preserve.

If you cook for a shorter length of time, you can re-use the bones once or twice, they are good to use again until they crumble when you pinch them. Those are pretty tapped out. You can throw them out, OR… grind the cooked bones up into bone meal and feed them to your pets! The added calcium helps them with their teeth and bones. However, you should not feed cats any bones that have been cooked with garlic or onions, as these vegetables are toxic to cats.

And that’s how I buffalo a chicken.

What do you buffalo?

4 thoughts on “Cut back on waste by using the whole buffalo

  1. Dena says:

    You can find some studies done on biodegradable plastic. I just did a short paper on the topic last month and found a few studies. The BioBag brand of plastic bags was used to determine if they would break down in water and they do. Another brand was also tested and completely failed. There are some studies on new technologies that aren’t out yet, if that’s something that interests you. Also, if you hate plastic, you might like the My Plastic Free Life website. She has tons of ideas for reducing plastic consumption.

    • Caitlin says:

      I’ve visited her website! I really like it. I need to put more effort into reducing plastic again.๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for the tips on the biodegradable plastics!

  2. EcoCatLady says:

    I Love this post! I keep an old gallon sized yogurt tub in the freezer and whenever I cook, I toss veggie scraps into it – nothing spoiled, just the ends and stems that normally would just get tossed. I also collect chicken bones and save them in the same container. When it’s full, it’s time to make broth! But wait! It gets better! I also deglaze the pan whenever I roast something and save the liquid for adding to soup. And I save things like juices from steaming veggies and toss it all into the soup and/or broth. Lately, I’ve even started rinsing out jars from pasta sauce and other stuff and saving that liquid for soup too.

    But I have to tell you what this post made me think of. There’s a little independently owned Asian market in my neighborhood with a butcher shop. One day I was perusing the offerings and there were these big bags of something I couldn’t identify. I looked a bit closer and discovered to my horror that it was chicken feet! Not sure why that should gross me out, but it did. But apparently they make excellent gelatin-rich broth. Maybe some day I’ll get brave enough to try it!

    • Caitlin says:

      Yep, chicken feet are great for a gelatin broth. I haven’t brought myself to use them yet… it freaks me out too. Haha! Let me know the results if you try it๐Ÿ™‚

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