Hear about the backyard chicken movement? It’s a solution people have come up with in order to get away from the pretty-much-awfulness of factory farmed food, especially the eggs that come from awfully-treated chickens.
It’s not really cheaper (in fact it’s probably quite a bit more expensive, in the end), but it’s most definitely better for the environment – going out and grabbing a few eggs every day rather than having them shipped from a massive factory farm is certainly better on the environment, and chicken droppings can be used for compost, too.
This Is How It Used To Be
If you read Johnathan Safran Foer’s wonderful book Eating Animals, you’ll find out that factory farms actually started with chickens, back in the 1920s, when a resourceful farmer figured out she could start to raise chickens with the same concepts that Henry Ford had brought to the manufacture of automobiles. That’s a simplification, sure, but it’s not so far off in the end.
But before that, even people in cities raised chickens. Sure, there’s a bit of upkeep – sometimes quite a lot of upkeep, really – but in the end, it’s a source of food that keeps renewing itself, especially if you’re able to feed them with table scraps, too.
New York and Chicago Allow Chickens
It’s a rapidly expanding trend in both of those American cities, something we gleaned from this recent article from WNYC.
Last we heard, Toronto, Canada was still figuring it out and talking about a pilot project, but just recently, we received some news that Winnipeg, Manitoba is not going ahead with the proposal brought forward by several citizens.
Just A Yuppie Fad?
Possibly, sure. But then again, if you’re looking to dismiss trends among urban-dwellers as just one more thing “urban liberals” are doing to make themselves feel better about the planet, you’ve got a massive, massive list to choose from.
The fact is, in the end, that a person living in a city like New York City – one of the most optimized, ecologically sustainable cities on the planet, when looked at in terms of density and energy/space usage – choosing to keep some hens in order to get fresh, high-quality, real eggs from their backyard is both a “yuppie fad” (do we even use the word yuppie anymore?) and a great idea from the burgeoning food movement that should be heartily encouraged.
Michelle Obama put an organic garden in the White House and the chefs prepare food from it. Is there anything so radically different about some chickens in an old dog house, then?
One thing that’s important to note (and I say this only because of the tone of the comments in the Winnipeg article linked above), is that there’s actually a strong crossover between some conservative values (not turning over your food and well-being to large corporations) and many aspects – environmental ones included – of the food movement.
That’s for another article, of course (or just read Michael Pollan’s great take on it), but it’s worth pointing out.
So – have you got any backyard chickens? Ever thought about it? Any idea if your city would even allow it? Let us know below!