Chickens behind bars.
At the HSUS annual conference
last weekend, I had a long conversation with a woman about backyard chickens.
In the environmental movement, and slow & local food movements there are more and more people interested in keeping backyard chickens. If you're an egg eater, this is a step in the right direction, since it keeps your money from going to factory farms, avoids some of the evils of transport, etc. Sadly, there are still problems. A lot of backyard chicken keepers order chicks through the mail from breeders. Breeders, bad. Sending live animals through the mail, bad. And, the most compelling reason for vegetarians and ethical people of all stripes: There's still no use for the male birds. They're killed, routinely and cruelly. They have no value. No matter how well you treat those egg-producing chickens in your yard, their family members have been killed because they can't "produce."
If you've rescued abused chickens, I'm not going to give you grief about eggs. Thank you for giving these oft-unloved animals a safe home! More often than not, though, backyard chicken enthusiasts are of the mail-order variety.
The world being small and round, I visited one of my regular blogs this morning, Homegrown Evolution
, and found them talking about the new film Shall We Gather at the River
which features interviews with Michael Greger
on bird flu
and factory farms. (Thanks for the Lantern author shout out!)
Yes, Greger's focus is (rightly) on factory farms. But if asked, he'll tell you about the problems with egg eating, even from backyard birds. There are still ethical problems, as well as health issues. He might even appeal to your feminist sensibilities, mention using female bodies for their reproductive purposes, and thinking they have no other value. Very Handmaid's Tale
Our friends over at Homegrown recently wrote a book called The Urban Homestead
, which premiered down the aisle from us at Book Expo
, and which has a lot of great stuff in it, like building rocket stoves, bike commuting, rainwater harvesting, and guerilla gardening. They're great people working hard to do right, but are still far from being animal activists, still using words like "cull" when what they mean is "kill."
I'm gonna check out that film. And, in the meantime, send our urban homestead friends a copy of Bird Flu
to "egg" them on, try to convince them to take another step for chickens.