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The Food Connections

How food defines our lives and our community

(page 4 of 5)

Localism in Your Own Back Yard

Charting the Valley’s Chicken Trend

By India Emerick


In the past few years, as environmental troubles have come into the spotlight, sustainability has evolved into a nationwide issue. Suddenly, average Americans are looking for ways that they can personally contribute to the conservation of our planet’s resources. “Localism” is a simple way for most people to reduce their energy consumption. With organizations like Idaho’s Bounty, The Banbury Institute and The Sustainability Center cropping up in our area, Sun Valley is jumping on the localism bandwagon. One example of these new priorities came in February of 2009 when the city of Hailey passed a law allowing residents to keep three chickens on their property as part of a group of sustainability ordinances.

Before the new ordinance, educational institutions such as The Community School and The Mountain School were including chickens as part of their curriculum. The Mountain School’s Katharine Woods said, “Giving the children an opportunity to be in contact with farm animals is immensely beneficial to their understanding of respect, appreciation and environmentalism.” Although The Community School’s program of raising chickens and then eating them was controversial, Sun Valley residents have stood behind the concept as an important learning process.

More recent events have made the Wood River Valley’s interest in localism and chickens even more apparent. On January 30th, 2010, The Banbury Institute held a Chicken & Egg Workshop on longtime bird owner Arden Schmidt’s farm with over sixty people in attendance. The workshop allowed those interested in chickens to share resources, information and birds. Kaz Thea, of Idaho’s Bounty, said that there has been an extreme increase in both the availability of and the interest in local eggs, proving that even those not willing to raise their own eggs feel the need to stay local. “We never have enough eggs; they’re so much more nutritious!” she says, “Eggs and winter greens are always in huge demand.”

Owning your own chickens is not difficult, in fact, it is one of the easiest things one can do to contribute to localism. The common motivation is the desire for organically grown, free-range eggs, a “farm feel,” or pets. Valley chicken owner Brian Yager created a “Chicksaw” coop, a mobile chicken coop that fertilized his lawn while housing his chickens. According to Yager’s family, having chickens wasn’t too hard, nor was it a big responsibility, and the process increased their understanding of the circle of life. He states firmly, “Backyard chickens are advantageous to the community, local agriculture, independency from corporations, lack of environmental effects and the usefulness of chickens as fertilizers make them such a valuable part of our lives.”

Although Sun Valley is generally thought of as an isolated bubble, in this case it is a microcosm to national trends. We are mirroring trends that are cropping up all over the country, such as community gardens, personal chickens and local food centers. Although we’re making strides in the world of sustainability, we’re still not doing as much as we could. Thea said, with strong conviction, “A lot of people don’t walk the walk… We should be creating local economies. Not just the food, but everything should be localized. It’s about getting people to care enough to do something about it, and if the masses take little steps, we conserve a lot.”




Old to new | New to old
Jun 17, 2010 11:25 am
 Posted by  Anonymous

Great essays! Very enjoyable!

Jul 7, 2010 02:39 pm
 Posted by  KetchumCooks

Thanks so much Sun Valley Magazine, for giving these engaging young writers the opportunity to publish their reflections! What a great opportunity for the community to hear our students’ thoughts on food & how it ties us as families, friends, & as a community.

Jul 7, 2010 03:13 pm
 Posted by  Jen

The comments regarding shared family dinners provided by Carson Caraluzzi are quite insightful. The writing is luminous and he gives insights not only to our culture and habits, but others too - of which I was unaware.

The implication for me as an outsider is that your community must boast of good schools, good values and one terrific place to live!

As for the writer, I anticipate a future career for him at the New Yorker magazine...

-J. Belton

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