Chicks in the City
Some folks–who I’ll conveniently pigeon-hole as “Whole Foods” types–want to raise chickens in Providence.
About 35 people packed a small City Council meeting room on Thursday in support of a proposed ordinance that would allow residents to raise up to six chickens.
Proponents said raising home-grown hens provides a local source of high-quality protein, fertilizer and natural pest control. They said it also gives urban children a chance to interact with nature.
“It’s important for children to have an understanding of where their food comes from and an appreciation for the environment,” said Camille Smith, a South Providence resident who says she’s been raising chickens illegally for years.
A chicken in every pot? Bah! 6 Chickens in every home! They have state support, too:
Kenneth Ayars, of the state Department of Environmental Management, noted that chicken-raising helps meet a region-wide goal of boosting locally grown food sources. Currently, less than 1 percent of Rhode Island food is locally grown; in New England, it is about 10 percent, he said.
But wait–animal rights activists aren’t too keen about this idea from their (what I presume to be) whole food pals:
Dennis Tabella, director of Defenders of Animals, says the change would open the door for chicken abuse and neglect and that, unregulated, home-grown eggs would lead to an increase in cases of food poisoning and other health hazards.
“It opens up Pandora’s box,” Tabella said prior to the hearing.
E.J. Finocchio, president of the Rhode Island Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said in a letter to the council that chickens would only exacerbate the city’s rat problem.
Good point: there are plenty of chickens and rats at the State House, so apparently they do co-habitate. There are also concerns that the chicken license will cost too much:
Leo Pollack, education director at the Southside Community Land Trust, which helped develop the proposed legislation, said the land trust supported the idea of a permit, so long as it was not costly or difficult for poorer residents and non-English speakers to obtain.
Finally, they say “the law would ban roosters,” but that strikes me as unfair–downright discriminatory!–and, apparently, unenforcable. There seems to be regular crowing emanating from both City Hall and the State House, so there must be some roosters, somewhere. As for what to do with the fecal matter generated by our urbane poultry? It can be mixed with the regular output produced at the two aforementioned buildings.