Food Democracy & Chickens

Below is a link to the story of a local Maine farm turned industrial, and a powerful argument for owning chickens - or at least knowing your local farmer. We have 7 laying hens at the moment and they make me happy every day. They are the first Black Sex-linked we've had and are good birds, in spite of the unromantic name. They don't seem to peck each other as much as some others. They get scraps from the kitchen and odd bits of vegetation as well as layer pellets. We often run them in an open-bottom pen, a "chicken tractor," to fertilize the grounds but the one I built several years ago needs some work so they have been in a 10'X25' yard most of the year - and of course they have a coop. We had 10 birds last fall but through my own stupidity we lost three (!) to a hawk - I still feel guilty. We can't possibly eat all the eggs 7 birds produce so I sell a some every few day to folks at work for $2 a dozen and have more customers than I can serve. Our area of the state is littered with an abundance of large abandoned chicken barns. Poultry was once a major industry here but about 30 years ago the local farmers were driven out of business by the huge industrial operations elsewhere - one of which, as the article explains, was spawned right here.

Read Mark Winne, How Do You Like Your Eggs? Industrial or Local?

He writes,

"Holding aside the anti-government nonsense of the Tea Party, it is now possible to imagine food production being so remote and so beyond our understanding that we have no choice but to place all control and authority in the hands of a few food corporations."

"While there is always room to improve government efficiency—ending the divide between USDA and FDA food safety oversight is one obvious choice—I’m not confident that government can protect the consumer in an age of industrial agriculture. Our faith in science, technology, and regulatory oversight can be as misplaced as our trust in mega food and farm corporations. With tremendous resources at their disposal, our industrial food players are more than able to game the system. And in what could be the ultimate irony, the biggest violators often have the deepest pockets which positions them nicely to comply, at least on paper, with ever increasing (and costly) regulatory requirements. The little guy—the small farmer, the ones who are local and whom we know and genuinely trust—could be put out of business if a one-size-fits-all approach to regulation is implemented." 


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