When I was a kid I thought that range chickens were the most disgusting thing you could have on your property. It made me think of poverty, right when Ronald Reagan was teaching all of us that poverty was shaming and turned "food stamps" into dirty words.
I was young. And social pressure, especially when it comes from those in power, makes a very strong impact.
Social pressure changes, though, and now we are swinging around the other way. We still have issues surrounding the usage of SNAP, and many hierarchical disparities between non-profits and low-income populations. But now, instead of backyard chickens inviting negative images of people who "can't afford to go to the store", they are a badge that shows that you care for the health of your family. For the health of the environment and the strength of your local food system.
Where did that change come from?
This week, MPR called backyard chickens a "coveted suburban accessory." My own boss has chickens in her backyard, and raves about farm fresh omelettes in the morning. Most municipalities that allow backyard chickens have a registration fee of $30-50. However, that amount can be a barrier for low-income families. With the start up costs of a chicken coup, feed, and the registration fee, buying a dozen eggs at Cub for $1.50 looks much easier in the financial short-term.
Without intervention, whether it be community chicken co-ops, reduction in fees, or financial education, backyard chickens are going to become the new Yoga. Beneficial to your health, but more of a status symbol than a source of community change.
Eagan Allows Backyard Chickens: Sun This Week
Metro Area Backyard Chickens: Pioneer Press
Backyard Chickens Spreading Salmonella: MPR