- Affordable access to eggs that are organically produced by chickens living in their natural environment, providing a healthy source of protein to all residents, regardless of income
- Access to eggs from chickens that are free-range. Note that free range eggs are not commercially available in Ontario
- Eggs that come from hens that are able to move around freely. The overwhelming majority of eggs in Ontario come from battery hens.
- Reduction in food miles and emissions from trucking eggs over long distances
- Reduction in waste as chickens eat food scraps from the kitchen & turn it into fertilizer of the highest quality
- High quality organic fertilizer for the garden from chicken waste
- Reduction in pests in the garden, as chickens love to eat the grubs and other creatures that gardeners love to hate.
- Food security
- Food sovereignty
- Unlike cats and dogs, chickens can be great pets that can stay outdoors year round
- Ability to set up a legitimate support network for residents with chickens, helping to problem solve and avoid any concerns
- Teach children where their food comes from.
There are also some good indirect reasons to be open-minded on this issue. After years of declines in the automotive sector, Windsor is trying to rebrand itself as a leader in green energy manufacturing.
To ensure success in this strategy, it is important to show that Windsor's Council is forward thinking and open to change, especially as regards the environment. We can learn from other, more progressive cities that have already wholeheartedly embraced environmental initiatives, including urban chickens, to improve the quality of life of their residents.
Allowing urban hens to return to Windsor is a great start to show our community's commitment to a healthy, homegrown food culture, and to start shedding our image as a die-hard lunchbucket fast-food town with higher than average obesity-related medical problems and cancer rates.
We all benefit when our food travels fewer miles. A flourishing locavore movement makes our city more attractive to people considering relocating here, as well as to graduating students who may be considering moving away. And that can only be good for the local economy.
Why not just buy eggs at the store?
It's a fair question. Regular eggs certainly are pretty cheap.
However, as with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
There are several reasons why pastured eggs, which are not available in Ontario stores, are a better option:
- Pastured, organic eggs are nutritionally superior to the cheap eggs you get in the stores. Want to know more? Check out the study Mother Earth News commissioned, and some of the other links we have in the tab above labeled "research".
- Commercial eggs in Ontario are produced indoors. Even organic or free-run chickens never get to go outside. Why is this a problem? Well, chickens that go outside get to produce more vitamin D, which they produce by being outside in the sun. They are also creatures that are built for foraging. They like to peck at the dirt with their beaks. Indoor chickens can't do this.
- Currently the only pastured eggs are available from farmers in the county. However, they are not allowed to sell their ungraded eggs beyond the farm gate. So obtaining farm eggs involves a lot of driving. Some people don't drive at all. This means they don't even have the option of buying pastured eggs.
- Food security is another concern. For one thing, all of our commercial eggs in the stores come from outside Essex County. What would we do if our supply channels were ever broken? What if a major outbreak of a disease shut down commercial egg production?
- Animal rights organizations have some serious concerns with factory farmed foods. If you're interested in learning more, there is a book (available at the library) titled Prisoned Chicken, Poisoned Eggs: A look at the modern poultry industry, with lots of food for thought. Or you might want to watch the movie, Food, Inc. You can borrow it for free from Windsor Public Library. Or for a quick introduction, read this blogpost on battery hen cage standards.
- Backyard chickens are a good way to reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills. Scraps can be used to supplement the chickens' diet; in turn, their droppings make fertilizer for the garden, something that can't be done with cat and dog droppings.