R.J. Ruppenthal  @  ChelseaGreen

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Some Sick Chickens and Eggs in Your Food Supply

Posted on Friday, April 20th, 2012 at 12:06 am by R.J. Ruppenthal

The U.S. government is attempting to cut the jobs of 1,000 poultry inspectors to save $85 million per year. The new plan is to have the poultry industry "self inspect" themselves (after all, the same concept worked well with Wall Street, right?). One poultry industry inspector will now be responsible for "inspecting" the dizzying number of 175 chickens per minute. So unless a bird is keeled over dead, it will be pretty tough to spot any discrepancies. Especially when the inspector's paycheck comes not from Uncle Sam, but from the same company that is pumping the steroids, hormones, antibiotics, and growth stimulants into these birds to squeeze out every penny of profit from their sick business of raising tortured/poisoned animals on an industrial scale for meat and egg production.

Here is a better plan: put a chicken coop in your backyard. The hens in our backyard have a coop that sits atop a fenced run which they reach with a ladder, saving horizontal space. Whenever I am home, I let them into a free range area as well, which includes letting them till one of my raised beds at a time (a few portable dog fences go a long way to protect the rest of the veggie garden). These birds eat kitchen and garden scraps, bugs and grubs, grass, clover, and weed seeds (in addition to some organic feed and scratch grains).

In return, they provide us with more eggs than we can eat each week, while fertilizing and tilling the garden soil. As anyone who enjoys homegrown eggs will tell you, REAL eggs are nothing like the commercial ones. Something like 1/3 of what you feed your chickens goes into the eggs. We have clover growing everywhere, plus plenty of extra kale, chard, lettuce, and broccoli greens that grow pretty much year-round. Give the chickens a pile of any of these greens (and I mean an ARMLOAD, not a handful) and each hen will eat at least a human-sized salad per day. This is just one example of what we feed them, but just imagine how nutritious those eggs are. In fact, the yolks come out so dark they are nearly orange with all those vitamins and minerals. At the end of the day, my kids are getting the benefits of a lot more vegetables than the vegetables they actually eat, along with plenty of omega-3s.

The government has done a very poor job looking out for us in the area of food safety. Commercial meats, eggs, and dairy products are chock full of harmful stuff. The poor animals lead tortured lives, are pumped full of imbalanced and toxic foods and supplements, and produce imbalanced and toxic meat, eggs, and dairy products. These products result in unhealthy omega balances, which lead to high cholesterol (the bad kind) and who knows what kinds of ailments, from attention deficit disorders to cancers. We'll never know the full extent of the health problems, but I do know that if you eat high quality, homegrown food at least some of the time, your health is likely to be better. There are a lot of "free range" eggs in grocery stores these days and I applaud the movement, but notice they do not have to say how large the free range area is, nor do they have to tell you if that area is covered in concrete. Don't trust the government to look out for your food safety. Take charge of your own food production, or even 5% of it.

We could save the government a ton of money on health care if people learned how to grow a little of their own food at home. Even in a small home, this is possible (check out my book, Fresh Food From Small Spaces, if you doubt that you can grow some food from an apartment/condo/townhouse/etc.). And in addition to a salad garden or a couple of tomato plants, please consider adding a small chicken coop and a couple of hens.

The time has come to be more self-sufficient, not only with veggies and fruits, but also with eggs. Now is a great time to get started!

News article Link: http://news.yahoo.com/usda-let-industry-self-inspect-chicken-191142649–abc-news-topstories.html

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