As many FullyVetted readers already know, I keep my own chicken factory in-house.

Indeed, my suburban Miami household is vertically integrated: Chicken eggs come in through the backyard (where my nine hens live), get stored in the fridge, processed in the kitchen, served in the dining room (as mayo, salad, or flan, for example), and "re-processed" via our human physiology so they can be expelled in the loo.

Can there be any better example of how it should be? With a dollop of expense and a soupçon of setup labor, we humans can get our food fresher, faster, funner and (yes!) safer than we might via supermarket. Add in environmental sustainability and animal welfare, amongst other benefits, and it’s shocking to me that more Americans don’t keep backyard birds for all their egg-y needs.

This latest recall — of eggs labeled "for human consumption," this time — lends even more credence to the concept that eggs are a product that more humans might want to bring "in house."

As I wrote in my USA Today column for this week: "Why? Because as any veterinarian can tell you — trained in fish, ferrets or hoofstock though we may be — chickens are just like any other species in their epidemiological tendencies. Where they gather in ever-greater concentrations, disease will spead in ways we have a term for: 'exponential.'"

Yep, I have this thing about animal crowding. Even if it’s what the bean-counters think is best, it’s not necessarily what’s best for the animals or for those who consume them. Which is why I went out of my way to try to convert USA Today readers everywhere to my way of thinking about backyard chicken-keeping:

Even if I didn’t revel in the kooky antics of my backyard flock or take an outsized pride in the intense orange color and deep, earthy flavor of these truly free-ranged birds’ eggs, I would be slapping myself on the back for all the good I’m doing for the environment by keeping carbon levels lower, pesticides off the ground (mine, at least), and less nitrogenous waste in our water supply. Then there’s the better health and welfare of the birds to consider. Because they are indubitably the happiest, healthiest birds I ever met (so says this doting flock-mother).

So it is that sometimes I sit, pondering my chickens and wondering why the heck it is I didn’t enrich my life — and, indeed, the world at large — with them sooner than I did. Given all that self-congratulatory sappiness, is it any wonder that this hen-mistress is feeling completely unsurprised that the country is in crisis over its egg supply?

You can’t blame me for trying to witness to the world, can you? So how about you? Are you convincible? 


Dr. Patty Khuly

Pic of the day: "My eggs!" by me