Someone recently asked me what I was doing about the hormones in eggs here. And I was like, Great, another thing to worry about, I thought all those chickens running around everywhere meant that they were being raised naturally. But I found out that almost everyone raising chickens here is giving them "crecimientos," or hormones, to plump them up (can't let the U.S. have all the fun, I guess) and to get more eggs.
So I went to the Hospedaje (the open market here) to search out some hormone-free hens and eggs. But I was stumped for a while on how to find out who was legitimately raising poultry without hormones, because here, let me tell you, what you're looking for is what I'm selling. When some gringa starts asking chicken farmers which eggs and chickens are hormone-free, we're looking at a hormone-free market.
But then I had an Aha! moment. I went to a man I've bought from and talked to in the past who sells spices, who doesn't even work near the poultry area of the Hospedaje, and I asked him how I could find them, and he said he'd go with me.
He pointed out some little chickens that looked like distant relatives of the large plump ones I'm used to seeing running around everywhere. He called them "criollos," which based on all of the contexts in which I've heard that word used means something like "traditional." He told me those little guys never saw a growth hormone. And since two of them together only weighed 3 and 1/2 pounds, I think I believe him.
Later at the slaughterhouse . . . I must interrupt here to clarify that this was after I myself carried the chickens to the slaughterhouse. I tried looking squeamish and helpless and asked if there wasn't someone who'd like to carry them over for me (like they did my turkey at Thanksgiving), but they just stood there waiting with their arms extended. I even had to fish out my money while holding the string by which the chickens dangled by their cinched legs. The picture is terrible, taken on my Nokia, but I include it as proof--those really are chicken feet I've got there.
So, now, later at the slaughterhouse, I asked the man there where I could by hormone-free eggs. He told me that those are "criollos" and told me three people at the market sell them, one right outside his door. So I bought 2 dozen of those as well. And since no one who gave me information profited as a direct result, I trust my information. Next time it will be so much easier.
And next time I'll buy four chickens, the two I bought were so tiny they didn't come close to filling my soup pot. I could probably fit six. Owen says my chickens are very pigeon-sized.