I was at an LDEI conference in Kansas City last week. LDEI is a philanthropic organization of “women of achievement in the food professions.” I’ve been a member for six years, and at each year’s annual conference I am amazed at what these women accomplish and how much they give back to their communities. Currently, LDEI’s focus is on sustainable, local foodways. On Sunday, about 25 of us toured a wonderful family-owned and operated poultry and egg farm, Campo Lindo.
In our group were well-known restaurateurs, food columnists and influential consultants. Many of them write about food issues and advocate for green spaces. And yet none of them knew the simplest things about what the small poultry farmer needs to survive! They didn’t know that chicks are sent through the mail, and if we lose that right, that small farms and hatcheries will go out of business. They didn’t understand that the threats of bioterrorism and avian flu are being used as excuses to regulate the small producer out of business. They knew little of the good that 4-H does and nothing about the role that the “poultry fancy” and our backyard breeders have in maintaining genetic diversity.
These women were interested, they were concerned; they are intelligent, and they are influential. What did I do? I talked about my girls. Made it personal. Kept it upbeat. I am convinced that the more people hear from people like myself and others who live with domesticated farm animals, the more that they understand how we live alongside these animals, the better off we all will be. What can you do? Invite neighbors over to see your coop. Have a farm tour day. Call a food reporter and invite her to collect eggs; send her home with a dozen and suggest some recipes. Invite a preschool to your farm. I don’t need to remind you to keep it positive – if you have hens in your life, you’re bound to talk about them as glowingly as a grandparent showing off family pictures.