Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fresh Eggs Or Foul Stench?

There’s a scene in Sasha Baron Cohen’s movie Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, where his chicken accidentally escapes on a subway in New York City. The hilarious scene shows Baron Cohen in his Borat character, chasing after the bird, in and around the ankles of spooked city dwellers.

That scene could very well be played out for real in Canada’s largest city of Toronto, if the local politicians allow chicken coups in residential areas. Currently any form of raising livestock in your home is illegal – as it should be.

A cock and a hen roosting together.Image via Wikipedia

Granted, the city isn’t going to allow Torontonians to cut off the bird’s heads and cook them up for dinner – the chickens are supposed to be used for providing fresh eggs daily – but you just know that someone, will get their axe and swipe away at Chicken Little.

For most of us, we choose where we want to live based on our own personal beliefs, values, and lifestyles. For those who like to get up at the crack of dawn, to the sounds of a rooster, the smells of manure, and the hard physical work of living the farm life – awesome for you.

As cities and towns across North America continue to sprawl into farm country, we’re losing our most valuable source of food – the farm. Farmers do hard work, so that lazy city stiffs – like me – can enjoy a good, well balanced diet.

Then there are city stiffs – like me – who chose to live and work in urban areas like the suburbs or right in the city. Although we may wake at the crack of dawn, the noise we hear is usually traffic, and the smells may be of smog, or that funky neighbour down the road that never seems to bathe.

Most city slickers couldn’t imagine taking care of livestock. Sure we have our domesticated pets, our cats, dogs, fish, even the odd turtle or lizard. But we’d never, not in our wildest dreams see ourselves raising animals for food production.

That’s just too complicated – you have to make sure you do the right thing, or the food you produce could be toxic, and the waste from the livestock – that’s a whole other matter.

Feed your chickens the wrong things, and you could be eating eggs which will later have you rushed to the hospital for a good ‘ol fashioned stomach pumping. Nothing like one of those first thing in the morning!

And what about that guy – you just know he’s out there – that’s going to kill his chicken for dinner? In an urban setting, where the foulest things we produce are consumer-grade waste, how is this person going to dispose of the remains of the chicken in a safe and ethical manner?

Cities just weren’t designed for farming. We don’t have the resources, and we certainly don’t have the know-how to do it right.

We’d all love to have the freshest milk, eggs, vegetables; even the freshest steak would be nice. But to live in certain lifestyles, you must give up the benefits of others. That’s life.

Toronto isn’t the first city to contend with allowing local residents to farm their own food. New York, Chicago and Vancouver already have these programs in place. Whether these programs are serving the public good, or – pardon the pun – fowling our cities, remains to be seen.
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