Monday, April 2, 2012

Why backyard chickens have become commonplace in America's backyards: You are what you eat

I will posts a series of articles intended to help people who want more information on backyard chickens.  Here is the fifth installment.  By Domenica Protheroe
(click on highlighted links for additional content)   
    For me, nothing makes more sense than - you are what you eat.  
    As people grow more concerned about the economy, the environment, food safety, emergency preparedness, and animal welfare, they are returning to the basic skills their grandparents understood well – vegetable gardening, canning food, and raising chickens.  For some, this is a movement called urban farming, while for others it is a way of life, a mission, a practical approach, or a requirement in a poor economy.  Regardless, taking responsibility for our food choices is an act each of us shares day in and day out.    
      Once again, Victory Gardens are with us and there are waiting lists for canning classes.  Municipalities across the nation are converting public space into community gardens or planting fruit and nut bearing trees. One of our beautiful National Parks: Capital Reef in Utah, is famous for their annual public harvest of fruit. Communities across the county are making healthy choices along with the citizens who live within their boundaries.  
American poster, 1918: Uncle Sam Expects You to Keep Hens and Raise Chickens.   
    When considering recent news stories about  pink slime and Starbucks purple bugs  dyes, it becomes easier to understand the desire for food grown and produced locally, and what could be more local, than one’s own backyard.     
     I grew up in an immigrant/first and second-generation Northern Italian family.  My home was next door to my grandmother and grandfather and within a mile of great grandmother and great grandfather and two uncles.  Each family was responsible for providing food to the family.  We had a 1/4 ac. in veggies that my grandfather tended; my father was responsible for game, seafood, and one meat animal a year; my uncle and cousin raised small meat animals; and my great grandmother and great grandfather tended 175 tomato plants, chickens (Go Chickens!), fennel and assorted meat animals.  This background gave me a foundation and a passion for locally grown food.
     We have become a nation of foodies with two cable TV food stations, food talk shows, and a food section in every morning network news program.  However, the real food heroes are our local growers.  Polk County is the bounty of Oregon and regardless what direction we drive, we see orchards and fields filled with goodness.  We have four local farmers markets, local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, excellent wineries, Roth’s, and options to purchase directly from farms and ranches.  We are fortunate to know our growers - to be able to look them in the eye and shake their hand or give them a hug.  For many, they are our friends, our family, our neighbors.  This is why I chose to live in Monmouth.
    Add to this richness, our town is filled with backyard vegetable beds, grapes, berries, and fruit trees.  We are blessed to have a climate that yields such treasures.  Eggs produced in our our own backyard, by hens that we feed and care for, offer a natural bridge to our local bounty.         
Farmers Markets
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) - list 1
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA's) - list 2
Monmouth's own: CSA - Hometown Harvest
Local Growers
Local Meat
Living Culture TV - offers a wealth of information
Local Wineries
If you live in Monmouth, Oregon - please take a moment to take the City of Monmouth, Oregon Chicken Survey 

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