By Indy Media
Jun 10, 2008
By Michael Almon - Sustainability Action Network, Lawrence, KS
Midge Grinstead of the Lawrence Humane Society has made a formal request to the city to END the raising of chickens in the city, ostensibly because of Zoonotic diseases (e.g. Avian Flu) that transmit from animals to humans. The hearing will be on a future City Commission agenda
, date unspecified.
Unfortunately, this matter falls on two sides of the sustainability issue. In response to Peak Oil and climate change, the emerging relocalization movement is creating local networks to provide local energy, health care, transportation, food, water supplies, etc. This is because local production is generally more energy efficient, less mechanized, has a smaller carbon footprint, and a greater economic multiplier effect. All of these enrich the local populace and culture.
However, for similar reasons, others are promoting vegetarianism and veganism to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is because ten time more grains are required for a meat based diet than for a vegetarian diet, a huge energy waste for crop production, and the large ruminants and swine produce quantities of methane gas causing global warming
, as well as cause vast rainforest clearing for pasture.
But as this reporter considers it, these assumptions don't seem to apply to chickens. The rainforest is not cleared for chicken grazing, and as backyard chickens, their diet is less grain than greens and bugs. In addition, it is a known fact that avian flu can be traced to the explosion of intensive industrial poultry production in Southeast Asia and the developing world in general (Michael Greger, MD; Satya Magazine, February 2006
It is a safe assumption that any sustainability advocate would find industrial agriculture in ANY form to be ecologically non-sustainable - feedlot animals, mechanized or GMO crops, caged poultry, farmed salmon, etc. All of these share the characteristics of large energy inputs and carbon footprints, low quality feed and the resulting meat, high levels of pollution, and unhealthy facilities for both laborers and animals. But avoiding these factors is the very reason so many folks are embarking on raising their own chickens, and also to provide less expensive food for their families. In the balance of things, it hardly seems wise to curtail civil liberties when many folks are trying to avoid increasingly expensive and unhealthy industrial foods.
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