In an earlier post we suggested that the Obamas add chickens to their White House vegetable garden. The piece, which the Huffington Post linked to, was met with a mix of enthusiasm and derision by readers of both The Atlantic and Huffington Post.
It seems that those who have no direct experience with keeping a backyard poultry flock consider the idea absurd while those who have flocks or have friends with flocks are generally wildly enthusiastic. Recently we learned that the largest grocery store chain in the UK is now selling newly hatched chicks in response to the rising interest in raising poultry.
Tuesday's New York Times had an article documenting the backyard flock trend sweeping the United States. But the article also raises the question of whether it makes economic sense, quoting a USDA poultry specialist saying that given the cost of feed you can buy eggs cheaper in the grocery store.
Our experiences on our own ranch and with friends who have backyard flocks confirms that run-of-the-mill grocery store eggs and chicken meat can be purchased more cheaply than raising your own. That much is true. But it seems to us that, as is so often the case, USDA is missing the point here; it is comparing apples and oranges. In other words, the eggs and meat you get from raising your own chickens are tastier, healthier, and much more satisfying to eat.