Making fun of locavores in Portlandia

From the TV show, Portlandia:

From Heather Malick in the Toronto Star:

“…As early as February, the city, having halted prosecutions of the urban chicken movement, will study small no-roosters urban coops. My favourite city councillor, the sainted Mary-Margaret McMahon (Ward 32, Beaches-East York), is thrilled. “It’ll be people who are into urban agriculture and food security and growing vegetables in their yard.” She dismisses worries about smells and noise.

I do not. I have enough trouble with the smells and noise of humans without coping with their poultry.

Urban hen ownership is no joke. Consider predators, mass death, the astounding expense of building a coop with insulation, ventilation, an exercise yard and entrance for you and your fowl, the drooping and wilting that makes you send sewage samples to vets for advice, manky eggs, ammonia buildup, cecal droppings and disease (metabolic, infectious, parasitic and behavioural). I will mention only in passing the “blood-tinged nostril discharge” of avian flu.

I like chickens in paintings and photos. Art hens. I hate them in real life, “with their blank beady eyes and the silly way they keep shaking their scrawny little heads,” as the essayist Jean Kerr once wrote.

Eggs are best left to experts, the hot sexy Ontario farmers who populate the new 2012 Faces of Farming calendar, the month of May’s Darryl being my current favourite. Note: He raises hens not in Riverdale but in Hastings County, as God surely intended.

The poultry mania is part of what I call Portlandia Syndrome. Named after the coolest show on television, Portlandia resides on the Independent Film Channel, part of its coolness being the fact that you can’t see it. I bought it on DVD (, and well worth it).

Portlandia is a satire of urban hipsters living in the Oregon city “where young people go to retire.” SNL’s Fred Armisen and rock-comedian Carrie Brownstein recreate the slacker ’90s in the new Seattle, where people grow beets in their driveway, entitled cyclists ride through stores (“I’m on a bike!”) and organic locavore diners interrogate the waitress about the provenance of their chicken….”

Read it all on


Filed under News

4 responses to “Making fun of locavores in Portlandia

  1. Gretna Maggiacomo

    So hilarious but at the same time scary …… I live just a little north of TO & I always fear a visit from the Vaughan Chicken Cops cuz I’m a criminal for keeping my beautiful girls, Terra, Principessa & Brown Betty in a cozy coop in the backyard….city council keeps going on about green this & green that but just try something clever on your own & they’re ready to pounce….meanwhile I keep the girls happy with kitchen scraps & they reward me with healthy nutritious eggs, it is a happy alliance!

  2. tal

    Heather Malick is a moron. You’ll notice she advises people to buy their eggs from Rowe, as if that is the epitome of ‘good food’. I know some farmers who used to grow for Rowe…

    Malick should stick to writing about subjects she’s familiar with, do some research or shut up.

    My $0.02.

  3. the Bovine

    Heather does write entertainingly about subjects close to my heart, like urban chickens. In a way I don’t care whether we agree because at least she wrote something that lets me bring the issue up in this blog. Personally I think lots more people should have backyard chickens. And lots more people will be at least entertaining the idea thanks to Heather’s dissing.

    AND I first heard about Portlandia from her. Now I don’t care whether she thinks its a crazy show. Kind of like the no publicity is bad publicity POV.

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