Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Chickens Need Freedom Too

Photo: Eggs From Happy Chickens
Location: My Backyard (the eggs, not the chickens)

I'm sure you spend all your time worrying about things I do to be a better citizen of the Earth, so I thought I'd tell you about my eggs. No, not my personal eggs. Eggs from chickens. It's been quite a few years since free-range chicken farming was a novelty story on NPR, and I'm sure it's gotten to be a part of your everyday conversation somewhere in your life by now.

While visiting some family in rural Virginia as a young adult, my family took a field trip to see free-range chicken farming in action. Growing up, my mom's idea of family education included a lot of field trips to places that were very unique, and sometimes bordering on bizarre. Seriously, there was the cheese factory, the nuclear power plant, and some road she tricked us all into paying a nickel to see (worst nickel I ever spent). I digress. Fortunately I had the good sense to stay behind on the free-range farming trip because it wound up being a little traumatic. A free-range pig ate one of the free-range chickens that roamed to the wrong side of the pen. Yikes!

Moving on...

Photo: Eggs From Happy Chickens with Ribbons in Their Hair
Location: My Backyard

Fast forward to today. While driving in my car I regularly witness chickens getting shipped all over the highways of my mainly rural southern state. They are generally stacked up ten cages high in open air metal crates on semi-trucks. It makes me sad for the chickens. It's a bad life. Even though I am a city girl in my heart, I have at times lived in four mostly rural states, and have spent more time with chickens than I would care to admit. Let's see, my next-door neighbors raised chickens for the eggs, my mom participated in a community egg co-op for a while, I once photographed windows at a chicken farm for a friend in the window business, and I went on school field trips to traditional chicken farms.

Oh, and don't let me forget all of the science projects various siblings of mine conducted involving hatching eggs. One of my sisters is currently dating the guy who was the beneficiary of one of the egg projects, and he said that those chickens still freaked out about the 1812 Overture cannons years later. Lesson learned: classical music does not increase egg production.

My point is, that although I desperately want to be nice to the chickens whose eggs and thighs I eat, I'd rather not raise one in my yard. My HOA wouldn't allow it, and quite frankly, chickens are kind of nasty after they pass the cute chicky phase, so I buy free-range eggs instead.

They're in nearly every major grocery store now and they cost almost the same as the eggs laid by the unhappy chickens. Even better, the packaging tends to be less damaging to the environment, and the eggs are consistently cleaner and of higher quality. There is something to to be said about eating the eggs of a happy chicken (not from the 1812 Overture mind you). I highly recommend these eggs the next time you do your shopping. I think you'll be quite pleased.

Photo: Summer Raspberries
Location: My Backyard

And since it's summer, raspberries are regularly on sale too. They are currently my favorite fruit and I would be a sad girl without them. Soon my friends' blueberry bushes will have ripe fruit for me to eat too. I plan to freeze some of those for those winter cravings of Maine blueberry muffins. I'll post that recipe on another day.

Happy summer everyone!

PS - I posted all the pics I photographed today AND I am guest blogging on T-Days with H.


Amy said...

I'm glad to know what freedom means to you :)

K&B Brown said...

I heart raspberries too. I also enjoyed your guest blogging on T-Days.
Free-range, I will have to try.

Trost Fam. said...

Just a side note on free range eggs, the more orange the yolk the better. We get some from Ben's parents who have them.

Ali-kat said...

Interesting! I'll keep that in mind. Thanks for the egg tip.