I grew up in a rural, agrarian community, and my mom has stories to tell about not being able to keep me clean: I was always in the dirt. We have a picture of my one-year-old self sitting at the base of the washline pole in my diaper, with dirt all over me! My next-door neighbor and I used to slide under the electric fence and go play in the cow pasture. I’d dig around in streambeds, looking for tadpoles, hellgrammites, planaria, and anything else of interest; rescue toads from window wells; go visit my grandfather’s steers and hogs… and then there was the night when my cousin and I got up at midnight to run around in the chicken coop in our bare feet…
Yeah, there were a lot of germs, parasites, creepy-crawlies, and other stuff involved in my childhood. I didn’t get ragingly ill or die of any bacterial infections — just the ordinary childhood stuff: chicken pox, colds, and the like.
Many parents today are afraid that their kids will get sick from contact with animals, and I think this is the child’s loss, from a life-experience perspective and from an overall health perspective. A little healthy inoculation of our bodies with germs every now and then serves to strengthen our immune systems, making our bodies more resistant to disease.
A 2012 study on Amish children raised on farms shows a much lower incidence of asthma and allergies, strengthening the idea that a little dirt won’t kill you; in fact, it’s a good thing! NBC covered the story and the original article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology can be found here.
So let your kids run around in the chicken coop and handle the birds! It’s good for body and soul!
Join Home to Roost for a chicken-keeping class at the Plainfield Public Library on Nov. 2, 2013, at 10 AM.
For more information, contact Therese Chaves, Event Coordinator, 815-327-2505, email@example.com
The library is located at 15025 S. Illinois Street, Plainfield, IL.
Chicago Reader reporter Anne Ford interviewed me a few weeks ago, and the resulting piece can be found here. Thanks for a fun, quirky piece, Anne! The piece will be in the print edition of the Reader on 10/10/2013.
If you’re interested in reading more about the events I referenced in the article, you can find them here:
“Rather than treat them as a commodity, we allow our ladies to express their natural chicken instincts,” said Amundsen. “It’s all the things that confinement doesn’t allow them to do.”
Egg farmer Jason Amundsen is trying something new. Well, not truly new, since many of the practices on his chicken farm have been around for… centuries. His farm in Wrenshall, MN, is very low tech, but high on production of quality eggs.
“We have heard nothing but rave reviews from customers, many of whom are willing to pay more for a higher-quality egg and from a place they trust,” said Jane Jefferson, the co-op’s dairy buyer. “I often tell people Locally Laid eggs are the best ones we carry.”
Find the entire article here.
Do you know someone who does an outstanding job promoting local agriculture? A fabulous restaurant that features in-season, locally sourced produce? A community-based organization that contributes to local food?
Nominate them for the Golden Beet award! Intended to recognize local people, organizations, businesses that cultivate local food, the Golden Beet is given by the Illinois Stewardship Alliance to recipients who exemplify innovation and achievement in the realm of local food!
Read more about this year’s Golden Beet awards here, and learn more, including how to nominate your favorite local food business, organization, or person, on the ISA’s website.
I recently attended my first board meeting for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA). The Alliance seeks to promote local food and connect local farmers with restaurants and institutions that can use their products. The ISA also serves as a lobbying group in Springfield.
It was great to be part of a group of like-minded individuals, trying to make a difference for small-scale farms.
Mission: Illinois Stewardship Alliance promotes environmentally sustainable, economically viable, socially just, local food systems through policy development, advocacy, and education.
Vision: We envision a system where soils are treated as a precious resource, local food producers earn a fair, living wage, local food education is integrated into all levels of education, infrastructure is rebuilt to accommodate local food systems and good food is available for all.
Illinois Stewardship Alliance (ISA) is a membership-based organization. If you are local food producer, concerned citizen or food-systems related organization, we invite you to join us! Alliance members span the state and have one thing in common: they all care about the food that is produced and consumed in Illinois and want to support the increase of fresh, local foods. Click here to find out how you can become part of the Alliance.
Donor Policy: Illinois Stewardship Alliance receives grant funding and donations from entities that have a mission that aligns with our basic tenets (see above)