From his unique vantage point as a prosecutor of food poisoning cases, Bill Marler has a greater than normal awareness of deficiencies in the American industrial food system. So it’s really no big surprise that he chooses to raise a few chickens so he can get his eggs direct from his own hens, rather than going through the industrial food system.
But even the few hens he has produce more than his own family can use. So he shares them with his neighbour. This is such ground level common sense stuff that people didn’t used to have to think twice about it. In fact it’s a commentary on how far we’ve come collectively, away from our roots, that such arrangements are now considered noteworthy.
Sadly though, the regulatory mindset seems stuck in the fantasies of the late 20th century, in which it was thought that the green revolution of factory farming would feed the world and we could all happily vege out in front of our televisions after coming home from a day at the office. Folks who live in more urban or less pemissive municipalities than Bill Marler would be getting themselves into a load of trouble doing what he’s doing.
A case in point would be a Belleville area family who are having to go to court to protect their right to raise backyard chickens. And these are not in-your-face rebels we’re talking about. They even asked their municipal officials before embarking on the project. Now they’re having to lawyer up and take it to court because some other regulatory official decided that backyard chickens are NOT allowed after all.
Anyway, much as we raw milk folks don’t see eye to eye with Bill Marler on milk issues, I think we can agree he’s got the right idea when it comes to backyard hens. Maybe the next step is for Bill to get himself a couple of dairy goats, and pasteurize his own milk!
From Bill Marler, on his The Marler Blog:
“In the last month the “girls” have been producing 8-9 eggs a day. They add up quickly and my neighbors are enjoying the extras. So I was thankful for our eggs this evening when today the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) recommended against eating any eggs produced by Daizen Farms of nearby Burlington, Washington. Hens that ate feed contaminated with rodent droppings apparently produced the eggs. Laboratory testing confirms that the feed contained Salmonella. In addition, the eggs were also packaged under insanitary conditions on the farm. WSDA inspectors observed rodent droppings inside an egg-washing machine during use….”