Chicken, pollo, poulet, chook, huhn

Chicken, pollo, poulet, chook, huhn; every language in the world has a word for chicken. Whether in some countries there is little or no chicken to go around, the population knows what a chicken is and they could show you a way to cook it. Chicken is not the “other white meat” it is the white meat and the dark.

On some Internet sites the website gives you a snapshot of what topic is capturing the most attention online. In conversations, on labels and testimonials; organic is trending. We have been educated and concerned about the food we eat and how it is grown, and what is put on it throughout its history. We’re concerned about antibiotics in the meat we eat. Larger and ever increasing higher dosages of antibiotics make for super bacteria.

Chicken coops are back in Richmond with Monday’s ordinance amendment in the city for just $60 per year. Four chickens per family in Richmond, more than just a chicken pot.

Why this focus in keeping chickens in Richmond? Keeping chooks in Henrico is allowed with some pretty tight restrictions. In Chesterfield, fowl can roam your property after paying a $300 conditional use fee and then rolling the dice. Will you neighbors agree to allow your chicken coop or will they fear cock-a-doodle-doo waking them at dawn each day, even though a cock is not needed for a chicken to produce eggs. Try that one in a subdivision with a neighborhood association.

The word organic is trending on conversations and the marketplace and local farmers are listening. Not only is the market producing more food raised the old fashioned way, its profits are soaring. Bloomberg reports that sales for organics were up 14 percent to $2.67 billion in the first quarter of this year.

“Once found mostly at niche retailers such as independent health-food stores and Whole Foods Market, organic food is showing up on shelves everywhere,” according to Organic Consumer Association. “For many consumers, ‘organic’ means healthy and expensive. Many organic products such as produce, meat or eggs cost 50 percent to 100 percent more than conventional products, but, that’s a price many consumers are willing to pay for food they consider to be healthier and better for the environment.”

“Another factor is that some Americans are adopting European-style attitudes about food, placing more value on their food and spending less on other things,” the Association stated.
Fresh farm fed eggs are showing up at every local farmer’s market and most vendors who sell the organic eggs are selling out. Then there’s the organic farmer’s distribution system featured last week on the cover of Village News. They sell eggs, too.

But the next step in living organic is raising your own chooks. A chicken coop in the back yard, as long as there are no roosters, shouldn’t bother neighbors unless the coup isn’t cleaned and develops a farm smell that is intolerable.

A chicken will typically produce one or two eggs a day. When Richmond’s new chicken ordiance was passed, it allows for a restriction of four chickens. That would produce two to four dozen eggs a week, although according to several persons who raise chickens for eggs say you shouldn’t expect more than  400 eggs a year. That would be just about right for Linda and me. At almost $4 a range dozen it would cost at Kroger’s, at $7 for our 14 eggs a week , from an individual or farmers market we may spend 23 cents an egg; $6 a week or $422 a year.

I would like to see conversation in Chesterfield County that would consider raising chickens, excluding roosters, here. A $300 conditional-use application (approval not guaranteed) would add costs leaving a savings to you of about $122.

But the cost is not why the typical organic food consumer wants free-range chickens. Many who consider buying free-range chicken eggs is not about the money but the health benefits. And, now the corporate so-called free-range chicken is not free-range but only raised in feed lots rather than tiny cages.

Paying the $300 fee may not be important in itself but the aggravation in going through the bureaucracy involved in a conditional-use takes six months; meetings with various county departments, getting permission from your neighbors, and missing a season. Want to build your coup this summer after your approval? Better plan in November. That is if you start by May 1.

Chesterfield could waive the conditional use and charge a $25, $50 or even a $100 fee and move into the future. After all, a fee received by many who would like to raise a few chickens with a fee is better than just a few conditional-use applications. One-hundred fees at $50 amounts to $5,000 a year to the county. Four or five aggravated-disenfranchised conditional-use applicants brings about $200 minus the salary of the case manager’s salary. Revenue to county – Zero or less.

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