Recently, I purchased a whole 4.5-pound chicken that had been raised on Martha’s Vineyard. The chicken was delicious and fed four of us generously. The next day we made chicken salad that fed two of us lunch. And with the carcass and some added vegetables, I made 1.5 gallons of a deep, rich chicken stock and threw the bones and vegetables into the compost pile after straining the stock. No waste, really, except for the plastic bag the chicken came in.

The chicken cost $45.

Yes, that’s right, $45. I hesitated to buy it, but it is winter on Martha’s Vineyard. January and February are the months to hunker down and make soup, get together with friends for dinner, and consider the coming year. Intentions and maybe resolutions are set. We all seek to live better, tidy up and do a better job.

Maybe those intentions imagine a better quality of life, but how does that play out day to day? Maybe it is thinking about how we live in our community, and how well do we take care of each other. Maybe it is about wondering how we can make a difference in an unsettling world and consider our habits and how they contribute to climate change.

A stop at any farmstand has one feeling brighter about our world. Most of them could provide a large amount of your weekly groceries if you consider your options and learn to prepare vegetables in fun and interesting ways. Take a leek, for example, or three, and roast them with a little olive oil, finished with a squeeze of lemon, a drizzle of Mermaid Farm yogurt and some crunchy salt, and you have a great dish. And carrots and hearty greens are abundant now. Think carrot croutons that have been slow roasted with aleppo pepper to dress a salad or cooked kale.

All the farmstands carry more than what they produce, and all of them choose carefully items that are of great quality, many Island-grown or made, like honey, chocolate, jams, soaps and roasted coffees.

Mermaid Farm is open 24/7. Their sign reads Always Open. What else is open 24/7 on Martha’s Vineyard? I have met many folks late at night at Mermaid; ice cream seems to be a favorite midnight purchase.

Then there is Ghost Island Farm. Their farmstand is open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and offers a plethora of vegetables grown in the unheated greenhouses. Ghost Island also has meat from Freddie Fisher; this is the Nip & Tuck Farm, after all.

North Tabor Farm is where I purchased my $45 chicken. North Tabor also has collards, eggs, pork and kale that is grown right on the farm, without chemicals or anything with “cides” (which translates: “to kill”). I also picked up a box of frozen gluten-free vegan dumplings that hit the spot for something quick and out of a box.

The Allen Farm has been on South Road since 1762. The rolling view over the south shore is unchanged because the land has been placed in conservation. Roger Allen, who lived on the farm his entire life raising cows, died there in 1967. He left the 128 acres to his daughter, Clarissa Allen.

Clarissa and her husband Mitchell Posin have passed the stewardship on to their son Nathaniel Allen-Posin and his wife Kaila. They are open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and by appointment. The Allen Farm provides lamb, eggs, wool and garments and blankets woven from the sheep’s wool. But the hidden gem is their compost tea, which adds a great biodiversity of microbes and bacteria to soils. Mitchell Posin is the passionate genius and biodynamic farmer behind this operation. He has increased the topsoil on his farm by more than 12 inches since he started his practice of regenerative farming.

In Edgartown, Morning Glory Farm is open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Saturday and Sunday when it is open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The farm has had its pulse on environmental impact as well.

“We are an energy-positive farm,” says Simon Athearn, explaining that Morning Glory now sends a portion of excess electricity back to the local power grid, instead of drawing energy from it. And anyone can contribute to the farm’s compost pile out back. They take kitchen scraps as well as leaves and garden weeds.

And then there’s Grey Barn, the new folks in town, who have been on South Road since 2009. They are hardly novices with their award-winning cheeses, and they bring a new dimension to their operation every season. They close on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but otherwise open at 8 a.m., usually with a short line for their hot baked breads, which rotate each day.

And there are many more small farms on Martha’s Vineyard that are feeding themselves and their neighbors.

But back to that $45 chicken. At just $7.50 a meal it was definitely worth it. Also, what the real price of food is and how that plays out in our overall health is often complicated, misunderstood and overlooked. Research continues to find that consuming commercial chickens, fed grain that is grown commercially and sprayed heavily with insecticides, and also with glyphosates, an herbicide that kills weeds, raises our cholesterol levels and creates an imbalance in hormone levels. Glyphosates have been shown to disrupt gut bacteria, causing gut dysbiosis, and this plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease.

Rarely do we hear about small-scale chicken raised outdoors that has double to triple the amount of Vitamins A, D and E, and more Omega 3s and a more balanced ratio of Omega 3:6 ratios. And if the higher nutrient value wasn’t enough reason to make the switch, pasture-raised chicken is also lower in saturated fat, and higher in protein and collagen than conventionally raised chicken.

We have all heard “if everyone gave up meat, we would cut emissions by 28 per cent” and “we’d have billions of acres available for the pollinators.”

But is waiting for everyone to give up meat realistic? Maybe doing better means we eat less meat and choose only high-quality meat, and stretch it a lot farther. A whole chicken may cost $45 or more, but it can serve six side-dish meals, and we know the farmer. We are investing in farming, preserving a culture and we are healthier and our community is healthier.

And maybe the chicken broth made from our local chickens is so rich and tasty that it reaches our very soul, is because we have made the world a better place.

Jan Buhrman lives in Chilmark. She is a chef, author and educator.