The Modern Savage: Our Unthinking Decision to Eat Animals, by James McWilliams. Thomas Dunne Books, 2015.
Industrialized animal agriculture is morally and intellectually bankrupt. Society is slowly but increasingly becoming aware of the cruel, unnatural, and environmentally harmful aspects of factory farms. But what is going to replace it?
Well-known food intellectuals such as Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Joel Salatin, and Jonathan Safran Foer have advocated returning to localized, more traditional ways of raising animals. Encouraged by some environmentalists and even some animal welfare supporters, nonindustrial animal agriculture has grown tremendously in the past decade. Continue reading
NOTE: this is the basic argument against city ordinances allowing backyard chickens, though obviously you could apply the same arguments to one’s personal decision to keep chickens.
The basic argument against backyard chickens is that allowing this practice creates an entirely new category of urban animal: an animal which may be routinely mistreated in a domestic urban environment.
This is not to say that most people who keep backyard chickens mistreat them. In fact, many consider their hens to be “pets” and will keep them even after they cease being “useful.” But this is not what the promoters of backyard livestock agriculture have in mind. They are promoting backyard livestock as a practical way to obtain food, namely, eggs and meat. Continue reading
When I protested against the proposal to encourage backyard chickens in Denver two years ago, one of the questions I asked was “What do you think is going to happen when owners get roosters from hatcheries? Chicks are hard to sex, and ‘mistakes’ may not be evident until the chickens are six months old.” Most cities which allow backyard chickens (including Denver) allow hens but prohibit roosters.
Well, guess what! We now know the answer to this question, at least for Denver. They will be dumped at animal sanctuaries or at local animal shelters. Continue reading
Michael Pollan, while celebrating the virtues of keeping backyard chickens, recently made a comment that chickens are “nasty and stupid” — and therefore, it sounds like, more deserving of being killed. Karen Davis, founder of United Poultry Concerns, incisively responded, “Even if chickens manipulated for meat production were stupid, blaming them for their defenseless predicament is cruel.”
There is another important point to be made, though, and that is the effect of killing chickens on Michael Pollan himself. Continue reading
Comments by Nancy LaRoche on Chapter 13 “Raising Rabbits”
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading
By Sundari Elizabeth Kraft
Nancy LaRoche is the co-Manager of the Colorado House Rabbit Society
First I must state that I adore rabbits for their personalities, intelligence, compassion for other rabbits and smaller creatures, their affection for those to whom they bond, and the pleasure they have given me over the years, living in my home as house-rabbits. Obviously, then, I cannot condone exploiting them by taking their lives to provide a meal of flesh. But both they and we benefit when we use their wonderful fertilizer or their wool. Continue reading
The ordinance on “food producing animals” (chickens, ducks, and goats) in Denver was passed last June. What follows below is the statement I submitted to the Board of Environmental Health on the proposed rules and regulations. You can read the proposed rules here (PDF). Continue reading
(Statement at Denver City Council’s Public Hearing about the “Food Producing Animals” ordinance)
My name is Keith Akers and I live in District 4. I urge a vote against the proposed food producing animals ordinance unless substantial concerns are addressed. Continue reading
I have just received a PDF copy of a letter the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) sent to Denver City Council concerning the proposed Food Producing Animals ordinance. Read the whole thing (PDF document) here.
The letter raises a number of interesting points, some of which have not been publicly expressed so far in the discussion. Continue reading
Sundari Kraft is the most visible proponent of the proposed “Food Producing Animals” ordinance which would drastically reduce the limitations on backyard chickens, ducks, and goats. Earlier I reported that one of her neighbors, Roseanne Jelacic, has written to City Council objecting to the ordinance based on her own experience with Sundari as a neighbor. Now, it turns out, another of Sundari’s neighbors, Lynn Herwick, has done the same thing some days ago. Continue reading
Figuring out how to live with a pet can be a challenging experience, just because animals are different from humans. Even in the case of dogs and cats, which are common enough in our society so that knowledge of their care is very widespread, figuring out their proper care is not trivial. But dealing with a new kind of animal, like chickens and goats, can be a major challenge. If you try to spread the acceptance and adoption of this kind of animal, a lot of people are going to get it wrong. Continue reading
Backyard livestock supporters often tout the success of other cities who have allowed backyard chickens or goats. Seattle is often held up as just such a success. But is it?
If you just talked to city officials, that might be the impression you get. So I talked to Tiffany Young, a member of the Duck Rescue Network and backyard fowl rescuer. Continue reading
Somehow, amidst all the glorious success stories that supporters tell about cities who have promoted backyard chickens, feral chickens never get mentioned. The problem of feral chickens represents another problem for supporters of the proposed “food producing animals” (FPA) ordinance. Continue reading
The draft of the Denver “Food Producing Animals” ordinance states: “There must be at least one hundred and thirty (130) square feet of permeable land area available for each dwarf goat, plus adequate shelter space for each dwarf goat.”
Is this amount of permeable land area per goat enough to be humane? If not, what would be enough? Continue reading