Food prices are up and Americans are responding with the original do-it-yourself solution: they're growing their own. It seems everyone has chickens roaming around their homes lately and backyard gardens are becoming commonplace.
The National Gardening Association reports there's been a 17% increase in food gardening over the last five years, up from 36 million households in 2008 to 42 million in 2013. Spending on food gardening has increased 43%, urban gardeners have increased by 29%.
There has also been a residential chicken movement in big cities in recent years. Cities such as Boston and Madison, Wisconsin, are known to have had chickens residing illegally behind city fences. Grassroots campaigns are sprouting to allow a limited number of hens behind those white picket fences.
Jac Smit is the president of the Urban Agriculture Network. He says the spread of backyard chickens has promoted spin-off businesses that cater to the local market. Some communities are relying on mobile slaughterhouses to manage and distribute the poultry meat, according to Smit.
"It's no longer huge slaughterhouses doing millions [of birds]. It's a guy driving around on a truck, visiting neighborhood to neighborhood," he said. "And it's not chickens only. Duck, turkey, and quail are particularly attractive."
The not-so-sunny-side-up about these chickens is that many of them are getting dumped at animal shelters because people aren't aware of what goes into taking care of them. Hundreds, sometimes dozens at a time, are being abandoned. The hope is that education will help people understand what they are getting into when they start their own hen house.
If all of this sounds pretty exciting and you always thought growing your own food and raising your own chickens would be fun, explore the Internet. There are many DIY options, including: