Since 1960 or so in America (I know not all you readers live here, but it may be the same way for you where you are so read along) we’ve been moving from the small corner market, and their local suppliers, to the Big Box Store. Along with the Big Box Store came Big Box Suppliers. Large corporate entities that “grow” food for American consumption. It is a massive machine that has gotten so big, and yet so little at the same time. There are less than ten suppliers of large quantities of meat, poultry and pork, and all the products that those categories include.
Recently I had the opportunity to see the movie Food Inc. I have also seen King Corn, and Fast Food Nation. Food Inc. illustrates very well the machinations of the factory farms in North America. The movie takes us to poultry farmers, yogurt producers, organic farmers, and pretty much everything in between. It was a movie that some will find difficult to watch. If you haven’t seen it, please try to see it. It’s message is strong and it should change the way you think about your food supply. Polyface Farms is to be applauded. Their model of farming could be duplicated nationwide and improve conditions for animals and humans, and even the planet I believe. I only wish I lived in Staunton, Virginia. If you do, you’re very lucky indeed.
I watched with great interest the poultry farming. Just this year we have our own small poultry operation in our own back yard. The factory farms have little in common with my little operation. Chickens kept in cages above the ground, with absolutely no room to flap a wing. Chickens over fed, and genetically modified so their breasts will grow to a weight their small legs cannot carry. It is sickening what is allowed for the sake of our bellies and convenience.
My chickens have it down right good. They’ve got a small plot of grass to scratch in each day. They have a diet of organic greens, yogurt, grapes and who knows what else. They spend the night in a well built coop with plenty of room for them to move about. Yet, just like most girls, fight over whose room is whose! Every morning I greet them with a bit of scratch and they hurriedly crowd the gate that leads them from their pen to the yard. Sometimes we’ll just sit and watch their antics. They are very social, and keep track of each other. They fret if one of them is not in the group and chirp if they feel they’ve been wronged at another.
I am now getting an average of ten beautiful eggs a day. I’m at the stage of giving them away to everyone I know. Interestingly enough I’ve not been turned down once! On a side note, when I was at the farmers market Saturday there was a man selling eggs like I grow, organic, free range eggs for $7 a dozen. Wow. I am not sure who was buying but if he gets it more power to him. My granddog Ozzy, who usually breaks out in a rash when eating eggs, can eat our eggs without the subsequent rash. Their yolks are bright orange and the whites are as clear as a spring day after a rainstorm.
The chickens do require a bit of work, a clean pen and coop. Food and water. and a place to perch at night. Simple needs, and they reward us daily with the best protein available.
Backyard chickens are great. I should have started years ago. I especially appreciate now the work that goes in to providing food for a hungry nation. It’s not difficult, however, it’d be better if we all raised a bit of our own.
What are you doing to feed your family and support local growers? Not everyone can have chickens, but I sure wish they could.