Reader Letters | Aug. 4, 2011

on urban chickens and local traffic

Cutting Cars and Trashing Traffic: Be Careful What You Wish For

They tried downplaying cars on State Street in Chicago and North Avenue in Oak Park, Illinois. Huge disaster in both cases. Destroyed small businesses, turned both areas into borderline ghost towns, cost BIG bucks to get rid of the costly amenities (like cement planters, benches, etc.) and turn the streets back into streets. Even large businesses suffered in spite of the fact that they did allow bus traffic. Many lawsuits. I believe there were even a few studies on “what went wrong” and “why this didn’t work.” This in spite of the fact that they did allow bus traffic on these pedestrian ways in specific lanes. It’s easy to site examples of places where the majority of the population never did, doesn’t now, and is not likely to ever own a vehicle. The truth is that even in a place like downtown Chicago, where parking ranges around $28 per hour, they won’t give up their cars. Nice idea, but it just doesn’t fly. I am a new transplant to Eau Claire (from Chicago if you couldn’t guess) and really enjoy your publication. In fact, I’m really enjoying Eau Claire.  

– Kay Connell

Are urban chickens sustainable?

In short, yes, but not only for the love of the manure. As a sustainability measure, I believe most folks in support of raising urban chickens understate the real gains from raising one’s own food. The small measures gained from having one’s own eggs, saving money, or having good quality compost are outweighed by the education one gains through a unique connection to food production. The more attention a person gives to production, the better chance they have of affecting the quality of food as a member of society.

By means of widespread industrialization, we’ve lost our connection to food production and on a large scale, the quality of food has suffered. Better regulations on large scale confinement chicken farming practices are part of the answer, but consumers are a big part of the answer. If they choose not to buy products that do not hold up to the standards they can create, then suppliers will have to change their methods to offer a better product. If you can make it better at home, why buy it?

I am a resident of Eau Claire and I also raise birds for meat and eggs on a farm in Osseo.  I am a strong supporter of this legislation for the reason of education and I urge you to allow individuals to make informed decisions that will have a direct impact on food quality.

  – Joe Maurer, Eau Claire

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