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Well, hello. It’s been quite a long time since I have seen your faces. I’m sorry about that. I wish I had more to report to you all. At this writing, J still is out of work, though he is contracting a bit, so we have been out of crisis mode and just in a holding pattern. I wanted to quickly update, and report that I was asked to give a speech at the Annual Autumn Breakfast for the Open Door Food Pantry in Gloucester, Massachusetts this morning. Since they found me though my blog here, and since so many of you will recognize portions of the speech, I thought this would be an excellent place to stick it. Better than the junk drawer in the kitchen. I also wanted to report that I spoke with the director of the food pantry just now, and I’m pleased to report that todays haul was a whopping $12.000.00, which will be matched by an anonymous donor. Thank you all for hanging in, here and on facebook.
I had a dream the other night. I was in one of these gorgeous Beacon Hill townhouses that some of us have had the good fortune of being allowed to poke around in. There was an endless number of floors, a soft neutral palate of beige and cream, lots of light flooding through huge windows of colonial-era wavy glass. It was peaceful and serene and spotless. They say that when you dream of a house, the house represents yourself. I was vaguely aware of this as I tore around the grand spiral staircase in a panic, trying to find my way out before the home owners discovered me, a stow-away. I was someplace where I did not belong, terrified and out of my element, heart pounding and unable to find the exit from a life I did not belong in.
I was born and raised in one of the lovely W suburbs west of Boston to two hardworking and over-educated parents. I went to college and grad school and became a social worker. I specialized in the treatment of psychological trauma and devoted my professional life to advocating for the underdogs. My husband is an economic consultant, and had a very well-paying job that allowed me to stay home with our daughter. We thought we were blessed with privilege, opportunity, and security.
Our son was born in January of 2010, and my husband took three weeks off to be at home with us. He had been very slow at work, but everyone else was slow too. I remember him being concerned that no one from his office contacted him to say congratulations after the birth. I brushed him off, but intuition is rarely wrong. Three days after he returned to work, they walked into his office and told him that he was being laid off. They read from a script. He was downsized. I could try to describe the crushing fear, the panic, the tentative optimism that one feels. The anger, the sense of betrayal, the feelings of worthlessness. I could try to describe it, but so many already know first-hand.
After the initial shock, we sat down to review our situation, and surprisingly it was pretty good. My husband received a reasonably good severance package. We also had at least 6 months of living expenses in an emergency savings account, unemployment insurance, and no debt. We had been doing everything we were supposed to. We had been very responsible with our money, and we lived modestly. My husband had been working 80 hour weeks for so many years that we decided he could take some time off to enjoy his brand new three week old baby and two year old daughter. In many ways, that was such a happy year for our family and we are so blessed to have had that time together. After awhile, things became increasingly scary. We never would have expected it to be so hard to find work again. A year and a half into this ordeal we had no more savings, no more unemployment benefits. What we did have was a mortgage, two cars that were no longer road-worthy, two kids growing out of their clothing, student loans gathering interest, and a looming heating bill for our almost 200 year old house.
You start to look around and see everything falling apart; doors falling of hinges, all the dinner plates are cracked, drinking out of mason jars because the glasses are broken, it gets harder to find clothes in the closet that aren’t stained and ripped. The little things keep getting bigger and pile on. There seems to be no end in sight. You wonder if you’re going to be Miss Haversham, or Norma Desmond living in your rotting castle dreaming of the past. Sometimes the pressure makes your eyes burn and when you look at your kids you panic. The future seems less bright every day that goes by, and you feel yourself giving up hope. You feel it slipping away, as you look for what an apartment costs per month. If it wasn’t for the kids, this would be easy. If it wasn’t for the birthday parties you are invited to and can’t afford to get presents for and hope no one notices. If it wasn’t for the wedding you have to go to two thousand miles away in 6 more months, 2 more months, next month. Everything becomes a countdown.
We are good people. We work hard and save money and invest in the market. We give to charity and volunteer. We bring casseroles to people when they are sick, or have a baby. We are good tippers. We have never carried debt aside from student loans and mortgage, both of which we watch closely and refinance at low rates. We overpay our bills to get ahead. Our cars both have 130K miles, and we are perfectly ok with that. We don’t have iPads. We own one TV. We haven’t taken a vacation in years. We wear hand-me-downs and clip coupons. All of the clichés about something better around the corner, and windows and doors opening and closing, just sound like cruel, horrid jokes now. We were in the 47% for the first time in our lives.
You wish you could afford to be depressed. You start fantasizing about staying in bed all day and sleeping it off, taking Benadryl so that you can just sleep and sleep until something good falls in your lap. Then, the overwhelming guilt washes through you, reminding you how horrible you are for complaining while you still have a home, and your kids still have food, and you’re here complaining about not having a reliable car when there are children in refugee camps in the Congo. Depression can be so self-indulgent. You go to bed, and have to wake up every day and put the optimistic cheerleader face on again.
This is what it looks like, in slow motion. This is the unraveling.
It doesn’t matter if you went to a good school, come from a good family. It doesn’t even matter if you’re in good financial shape with no debt and never even got swindled by a big bank. You can be sitting there with all your ducks in a row, heat turned all the way up to 68 and before you know it, one little shift in the universe will send you and the people you love most into a tailspin. You will slowly start hurtling towards earth, then faster. And faster. And you will cling to anything you can find. You will feel pinned down, your eyes pryed open, compelled to watch as the ground gets closer and closer. You will be forced every night to lay awake and think about where you can get food, money, and the security you used to just take for granted. You look at your clueless kids and white-knuckle it. You will get really good at doing math in your head on the fly. You will feel yourself being observed and discussed. You know people get uncomfortable when you talk about it, and start to avoid you.
I didnt think about Next Year, or In Ten Years. I could barely think about next week. Everything was uncertain, from retirement plans to what’s-for-dinner. I didn’t know how I was going to stay in my house, how I was going to feed us, how the hell I was going to pay for heat this winter, how I was going to pay for the Halloween costumes I just ordered two nights earlier believing that there was a job that was going to start the following week. I could no longer recognize my life. It’s a terrifying place to be for anyone, and there are a lot of us here right now.
At some point I had to scrape myself off the floor, and start to plan ahead for my family. I have always been an advocate of fresh, healthy, real food, especially for the kids. When we lost our unemployment, eating good food seemed like an impossible dream. I became further depressed by the idea of big wheels of government cheese, and big tubs of government peanut butter on the dinner table. It took a lot of courage for me to come to the Open Door for help. I was terrified about what the experience would be like, about how people would look at me, what kind of food I would get. I was scared of appearing ungrateful or greedy. I was scared of being judged for being poor, or worse- not poor enough. Obviously, none of those things happened.
I received our first pickup at the food pantry and was just so overwhelmed by the experience. Thirty-three pounds of food! We got a chicken for roasting and stock, some fresh pollock fillets, cans of tomatoes, dry beans, bags of rice, organic lentils, some fresh sourdough bread , sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, pears, beets, lettuce from local farms, milk and eggs. Amazing. Fresh, healthy food given to us with a smile, with respect, and with compassion.
That food got us though several weeks with some stretching. It was a desperately needed bandage for us at a particularly dark and needy time. One less thing to worry about, which is no small gift when you’re in a place of constant worry. It was a bit of light shining through a crack. I had been kicked around for so long and had come to expect the poor treatment, shame, judgment, and harsh words that had characterized many of our interactions during this period. The staff at Open Door made it so easy for me to do this terrible and necessary thing. They welcomed me with a smile and open arms and casual chit chat. I will never forget their kindness, because seeking that help was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do. What a valuable resource for our community, particularly right now when so many families are struggling more than they ever expected to.
This past winter, my husband started working again, on a consulting contract, more or less in his field. While it was an enormous sigh of relief, and some regular dependable income, the job still pays about half of his previous salary, and provides no health insurance or benefits. He has been interviewing for permanent positions, but nothing has worked out in our favor so far. We are out of crisis mode, thankfully, but still fighting the war. Our son who was born just before his layoff is going to be three years old in January. It has been a long fezzle. We may still need help from the Open Door again at some point. I never thought that I was someone who would need to seek out help feeding my family. If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. The Open Door is not just there for people who live in abject, lifelong poverty. It’s for people in transition, who might feel like they don’t recognize their life right now. Many of us wake up one day to find ourselves living in a stranger’s house, desperately seeking a way back to familiar surroundings.
Happy New Year. I’m hoping that 2012 is going to kick 2011 in its skinny ass. It seems that we are far from the only people we know who were glad to see the year come to an end; it’s been hard for a lot of our friends, family, and people in our community. The job search has been on hold though the holidays. No one seems to check their email and that’s just fine. We needed a little break to just not think about things for a week. Starting tomorrow, everything is back to business as usual, so J will be cracking down, following up with a bunch of contacts he made before Christmas. I’m working on a few new products for Great Marsh Artisan Skincare, and filling orders left and right. I’m really looking forward to my daughter being back in school so we can get back to our routine around here.
This is a strange time of year for me. I have always felt New Years Eve is a very bittersweet holiday, moving ever further into history, propelling towards the end of things, leaving behind family and friends who have died, entombed in the past. I think about them. This year, one of my best friends is staying back in 2011 without me. As the first anniversary of his death approaches, on his birthday in early February, I’m finding the inevitable turning inwards. I think about him, his family, clutch on to those memories I have of us together that fade more and more each day. I know that soon they will all be vapor, and I’ll only have his name etched into my brain.
I’m not a religious person. I’m a mediocre atheist who came by it honestly via a childhood of questioning in the Unitarian Universalist church and a degree in religious studies. I have flirted with other faith traditions outside of Judeo-Christianity, and found something of value in them all but could not ever make that final leap of faith in believing in a theistic god. I sometimes wish that I could, but despite 36 years of trying, I’ve settled into the place where I am, still attending a UU church near my home, and trying to answer my daughters increasingly metaphysical questions in a comforting, affirming, but nonspecific way so that she can find her own path of faith. My heart is full of love, and I know yours is, too. That’s really all I need at this point in my life.
Nevertheless, after the holidays are over, in the time of the longest nights, the deadest of nature laying in wait, having faith if not in a divine presence then at least a faith that there is a light in the darkness, I use the time to look deep within. I use the time to cleanse and detox and renew. I read, I try to eat very clean, simple foods, I move slower and feel myself firmly rooted to home, family, place. I roast things. I braise. I sleep.
Don’t think that the tone of this post means that I’ve gone all woo on you. I still swear like a truck driver and scream at the kids that I’ll sell them to the Gypsies if I have to break up one more damn fist fight. Today I started a Whole30 to get back into the swing of things. I’ve eaten a lot of sugar and even some grains over the holiday season and am up 11 pounds from my lowest weight. (I felt badly until J told me that he is up 18.) One of the things I love most about ancestral eating is how simple and streamlined it is. I never, ever feel that I’m deprived, but rather feel like I’m giving my body exactly what it needs. I have fallen out of that a bit, so I’m starting the year with a month of clean eating. After my first Whole30 breakfast of two sunny side up eggs, three strips of (sugar-free, nitrite/nitrate-free, antibiotic-free, uncured blah blah blah) bacon and two sweet potato pecan puffs, I felt amazing. I never know why I get tempted by non-paleo food; it makes me feel like shit. It tastes like medium density fiberboard. It is never, ever worth it. So, I’m detoxing, resetting, tightening up, cleaning out, thinking about health, nourishment, relationships, life, and nutrition.
Oddly enough, I’m also doing the same with my “beauty” (used loosely) routine. I was wearing more makeup than usual over the holidays, out of my normal habits, even using shampoo with dimethecone, SLH, fragrance, PARFUM!! Shame spiral. I’m now back to using only Dr. Bronners when I have to, Aubrey Organics on the head and cleansing my face with straight olive oil, lavender and tea tree essential oils. I’m using coconut oil in my hair and to moisturize my skin, as well as my Lavender Honey Hard Lotion and Rosehip Hydrating Serum. That is it. I feel softer and cleaner already.
So, meditating on life, health, cleanliness, simplicity, and quiet. That is 2012 so far. I hope that I can manifest some goodness our way on the job front. God (or, as my UU minister calls it, “a universal force of love that always bends towards Justice,”) knows that we need some good news so I’m working on willing it for us all.
Here is another post that I wrote for my collective blog over at Highbrow Paleo. Jamie and I had a chance to buy half a cow, and we jumped on it. We have been struggling with the food thing, feeling incredibly guilty for buying CAFO meat, but at the same time not willing to return to eating a grain-based diet that made us sick. It was a difficult choice, but when this steer fell into our lap, so to speak, we took it. We now have two chest freezers in the basement full of beef, and a small store of other meat (venison, pastured pork, pastured turkey, chicken feet).
The holidays have been hard, but we are focusing on our blessings and not on Stuff, as one should at this time of year anyway. The kids have been having fun decorating the house, and cutting down our Christmas tree. We have had some family Christmas parties and the obligatory cookie baking, gingerbread house decorating and amaryllis tending. It has all been a lot of excitement for the little ones and while It would be wonderful to jet down to Manhattan and take them to the Nutcracker and skating at Rockefeller Center, we don’t feel deprived one bit.
The job search is on hold this week and next while many people are on vacation, so that has been almost relaxing. Before the world shut down for the holiday, there were some good connections made at some good companies, so we are hopeful (as always, but more than we have been in a long time) that something will work out as soon as business opens again in 2012. We have been able to focus on our own small but growing business which exceeded our expectations for the holiday. We are nowhere near able to save the family farm selling calendula balms, but I’m proud of how far we have come in such a short amount of time. Thankful.
We are reminded every day how amazing, generous, loving, warm, sweet, kind, hilarious and wonderful our friends are. The people that take five minutes out of their day to shoot over a quick email to check in are like gold to me. I have so much love for my friends, who are more family than family.
We are warm(ish), fairly healthy, and we have some incredible, healthy, compassionate food on our table. I don’t want anything else for the moment.
Thank you for reading, and all sorts of healthy love, and granted wishes for the winter holidays and the new year.
Things have got a bit heavy around here. Sorry about that. It’s all just a reflection of the ebb and flow of this little struggle, I suppose. Some days we are crazy optimistic, and other days are just pure self-pity. It’s all necessary. The days I listen to the news, read about the Occupations and hear the dismal economic reports are pretty depressing. Yesterday was bad; the commentators on an NPR show about the economy all were just muttering, “The caller is right. We are all doomed.” That did not bring a ray of sunshine into my life.
I got our first pickup at the food pantry and was just so overwhelmed with the help. Thirty-three pounds of food for my family! We got a chicken, some fresh pollack fillets, cans of tomatoes, dry beans, bags of rice, organic lentils, some fresh sourdough bread for the kids, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, pears, beets, lettuce from local farms, milk and eggs. Amazing. Please, if you need help feeding your family, head to your local food pantry. If you don’t have a hard time feeding your family then please consider donating to one. We all need help sometimes, and even those of us who struggle need healthy food.
I had an “interview” with a local pizza place to answer the phone and take orders, under the table. Is it weird that I’m excited about it? Considering my Plan A was holiday help at the Macy’s half an hour away before this fell into my lap, then it’s no surprise. I’m really hoping that he hires me. I think it would be a good symbiotic relationship and would help so much until J gets some work. It’s been a long time since I walked into a place and just said, “Listen, I need some money for food and heat. I can do whatever you need me to do, and I can lift a hundred pounds.” I can dead lift a lot more than that, but didn’t want to show off, you know. Didn’t want to intimidate the guy, right?
Anyway, onward and upward. I’ve taken a close look lately at our daily expenses. One of the things that we go through a lot of are toiletries and cleaning products. In the past, I had been skeptical of drugstore cosmetics because of the long lists of thing of who-knows-what so I changed over (almost exclusively) to the “all-natural” brands. Part of this switch meant making my own. Elias was born with some coin eczema and since it was january and the heat was on, it was itchy and inflamed and irritated. None of the usual stuff from the store worked, so I made my own and it cleared right up. That was what led me to my little company, Great Marsh Artisan Skincare. I made salves, balms and oils by hand. I’m just starting out, but I have a lot of fun doing it. It’s not going to save the family farm by any means, but we are carried in a few stores and have some pretty loyal customers with wonderful feedback. So, I keep at it. My plan is to soon introduce some new products soon, too. A lot of the toiletries that I use on myself and my family are DIY, but there’s some things you just need to have someone else make for you. I’m always looking to keep quality and simplicity high and cost low, so here are some of the ways that I do that.
Soap. I stopped using it, for the most part. It dries your skin out and I rarely get that dirty. If my hands are nasty from digging in the dirt or cooking, I wash up with some hot water and scrub with some salt and olive oil. In the shower, I used to use Dr. Bronners castile soap (you know, on the dirty bits) at fifty-three cents per ounce, but to save money I have switched to Dr. Woods at twenty cents per ounce. Castile soap is castile soap. I use it to clean the house, wash up the kiddos and in the shower for those times when soap might be required.
I have tricky hair. My husband and the kids use the castile soap without a problem, but I have very curly, colored, fine, dry hair. I have tried to do the “no poo” method that so many people rave about without great results. I was greasy and my hair felt like straw. It just wasn’t for me unfortunately because I think the principles are awesome. I think everyone should give it a go for 30 days and see what happens. If you’re one of the few people for whom it doesn’t work out, then consider using Aubrey Organics. Their ingredients list is flawless and there are about a million formulations for any hair type. Currently I’m using the Blue Chamomile Hydrating shampoo with the Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner. Vitacost has the best prices.
To tame my hair down from Jimi Hendrix to more Robert Plant, I just use some coconut oil. TINY amount of coconut oil just on the ends. I get a 54 ounce container of organic, unrefined coconut oil for only forty-three cents per ounce. Very cheap, and we use it for everything. It’s my primary cooking oil and my primary body-care ingredient. I put a bit in a container or mason jar up in the bathroom and use the rest down in the kitchen. Coconut oil has a myriad of uses, if you didn’t know so it’s a great thing to have around the house. I use it for an all-over moisturizer for myself and the kids, and yes I do put it on my face. It’s fine. It also has a natural SPF of 15 (though you didn’t hear it from me) and its the only thing I used all summer at the beach and didn’t burn. It also makes a great deodorant when you mix it up with some cornstarch and baking soda. I have some tough pits, and this stuff works just as well as Secret Clinical Strength without the potential Alzheimer’s disease down the road! Or whatever. I still don’t like putting something on my body when I don’t know WTF it is.
Another deodorant that I love is the Thai Crystal. The DIY doesn’t work long term for me because I get a weird rash. I’m the only freak with this issue though, so I still swear by it for everyone else on the planet, but for me I have to break it up by using the Thai Crystal most days. People, this thing costs $5.25 and it lasts for three to five years. What is the problem? Go buy one.
For the kiddos skin, I use my own Lavender Honey Hard Lotion or some olive oil infused with chickweed, plantain and Calendula. I find that, as with most things, simple is best. The fewer products, the fewer ingredients, the fewer steps to processing, the better the results, the better for your health and for the planet.
I don’t really know what else is needed. I wear some mascarra, eyeliner and sometimes concealer that I get from the drugstore. I shave my legs with coconut oil, exfoliate with a dry brush. I do dye my hair at home every couple of months with the regular commercial dye, whatever happens to be on sale. I’m not perfect and I keep a few “luxuries” in my back pocket, though my definition of “luxuries” as certainly changed in the past couple of years. But oh, how I miss bi-monthly, 90-minute massages!
Well, we still don’t have any updates on the job front. These things move at a glacial pace, but unfortunately time waits for no one. I’m very sorry that I have not been writing much lately. I certainly think about things that I want to blog and scribble and shout all the damn time, but this is a luxury that I don’t always get. Last week, I got terrible news that a close friend and family member was diagnosed with colon cancer. We are all devastated. She is not even 40 years old, and has two young children who I love like my own. Today she had surgery to remove the tumor, and we will know more when pathology reports come back next week. She and her husband are hopeful that after recovery from the surgery, they can put it behind them and move on with a healthy outlook. I certainly have my fingers crossed for just that to happen.
When I was first diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, someone told me that before my year anniversary came around, I would be thanking the universe for the gifts that MS would give. That’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re in the middle of it. I scoffed and probably used a few F words, but found myself about nine months later with a new appreciation and respect for life and my chosen family, for time and my children, for health and dis-ease. MS taught me that life is finite, and health is temporary. It taught me to scan my body constantly, and pay attention. It taught me that what I consume matters, and that living a long healthy life is what I want more than anything. It taught me that nutrition, exercise, and fun are of primary importance. It taught me to reduce toxins (both chemical and interpersonal). I hope so much for my friend/sister/cousin that it will be the same for her.
I’m off tomorrow to pick up a big order of beef marrow bones, veal knuckle bones and chicken feet to make a huge measure of stock to help heal up her belly! Also going to stock up on some Brazil nuts and Vitamin D. Since she asked me for nutritional help, I’m going to unleash everything I have and knock the hell out of this cancer so it never, ever gains a foothold again. I’m not having this shit in my family.
Any good thoughts you can send her way are deeply appreciated. Stay healthy, kiss your kids, and drink your chicken feet.
Sometimes knowing that something is really good for you is not enough to overcome the cultural taboo. Or even the gross-out factor. I have saved the carcass from lobsters and chickens for a while and using them for stock. I have a pretty good system going- I just keep a freezer bag going and when i have some bones, I add them in there. When the bag is full, I get to stock-making. It has worked well and I have all manner of shellfish, chicken and beef stocks frozen all over the place. I have never really been able to get my stock really gelatinous, though. It gets thick sometimes, but not solid and I want solid. Here is some really in-depth information about the benefits of gelatin and broth, but this is the gist of things:
To summarize, gelatin (broth) can be considered for use in the following conditions: food allergies, dairy maldigestion, colic, bean maldigestion, meat maldigestion, grain maldigestion, hypochlorhydria, hyperacidity (gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis, ulcer, hiatal hernia) inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.
This stuff is good for you. But what is the best source? Why, chicken feet, of course. Chicken feet. My only experience of chicken feet prior to this was a horrible childhood memory burned into my mind’s eye that involved a Sunday brunch of dim sum. I have successfully avoided such things since. I believe that using the whole animal is the most humane thing. I believe that animal-based food is imperative to our best health, and I believe that our cultures over-reliance on “clean and pure” muscle meat has left us deficient in many things that are only found in the parts of the animal that other cultures in other times have used liberally. That doesn’t help when I find myself doing what I was doing in my kitchen the other day.
I special ordered the chicken feet through a local butcher. It took about a week for them to arrive, and I paid about $6 for two pounds, which seemed kind of pricy. But, It’s not like I’m going to shop around. I brought home my paper package very excited to start in on my project. I used this recipe for chicken foot stock because I listen to Elise in all things related to cooking, second only to Saint Julia. So, I unwrap the little buggers, and they are kind of gross, but nothing I can’t handle. Then I start to read the recipe, and kicked myself for not reading it sooner.
I initially boiled the feet for five minutes to clean them, but later learned that it’s not necessary if the feet are already cleaned and no longer have their bright yellow membrane. Mine were already clean, and I wish I had know that because this is where it got really gross for me. After boiling the feet, I drained them and had to chop off the talons at the first knuckle, but that’s not the gross part. When boiled, the feet become waterlogged and warm which transforms them into something with an uncanny resemblance to a human hand. A deformed hand from a human child. A child about the age of my child after never trimming her
tallons fingernails. I was sort of gagging and yelping, weeping and wailing, swearing and shouting. I was chanting, “It’s the right thing to do. It will be worth it.” It took an eternity, but I got all those fingertips off the warm, fleshy, chubby baby hands and go them back in the pot with the mirepoix and covered up.
Five hours later, I drained the stock, added more water and did it again. At the end of the day, I had about six quarts of stock which I then reduced to two and a half quarts. Today when I pulled it out of the fridge, I had a solid block of beautiful gelatin. This stuff tastes so rich and smells just like Grandmas Chicken Soup. I’ll never go back to plain old bone stock, or at least I’ll always throw a couple of feet in with my bones. I used some tonight to replace the water I made my kids rice in, and I had some with my shrimp scampi to replace the wine and it’s just lovely and silky and delicious. It was worth the strange images that now have replaced the dim sum episode, and I’ll hopefully have the elastic skin and springy, lubricated joints of a 16-year-old.
So, I don’t know how much money this saved in the end. A quart of store-brand organic chicken broth is $2.00, and this works out to about the same price. However, clearly what I have here is a very different product than the stuff from the box. This tastes better, looks better, and most importantly, I know exactly what is in it. I think that for me, that is reason enough to never go store-bought again. It’s chicken feet for me.