As begets tradition, Kathryn Sommerlad emailed on Christmas Eve, four years to the day she first wrote to introduce her family business, Sommerlads’ Poultry, to me. The purpose of this email, sadly, was to shed details about the closure of the business. More
“How are the chickens?” asked my hairdresser.
“Oh my god! Don’t ask about the chickens!” I exclaimed.
“Why? What’s wrong?” she enquired, after more than a year of us discussing chicken ceramics. And chickens in general, before. More
If anyone knows chickens, veterinary scientist Robyn Alders AO does. Over the past 20 years, Robyn has been instrumental in rolling out a sustainable vaccination program that immunises chickens against Newcastle disease, empowering women by providing them with a dependable source of income and nutritious food.
Poultry have been domesticated for thousands of years with archaeological evidence suggesting that domesticated chickens existed in China 8,000 years ago. While there is an amazing array of fancy breeds of chickens, in many countries, village or indigenous breeds of chickens continue to exist in a collaborative venture with their human owners as they have done for many centuries.
Village chickens can be found in low- to middle-income countries and play a vital role in many resource-poor rural households. They provide scarce animal protein and micronutrients in the form of meat and eggs and can be sold or bartered to meet essential family needs such as medicine, clothes and school fees. Village poultry are active in pest control, provide manure, are required for special festivals and are essential for many traditional ceremonies. The output of village chickens is lower than that of intensively raised birds but it is obtained with a minimum input in terms of housing, disease control, management and supplementary feeding. They are frequently owned and managed by women and children and are often essential elements of female-headed households. More
Once chicken was a rare treat, yet today, we gorge on it. Australians are the fourth largest consumers in the world, eating 623 million chickens a year, or 46 kilograms each.
From supermarkets to fast food, the message is the same, ‘Eat chicken, it’s cheap!’
‘Eat more’. More
Changes are afoot and you can be a part of it!
I’m making art
I’ve enjoyed researching our food system, and social media has been effective to get the word out, but I feel like it’s time to start communicating food in a new way. Also, to be kind to myself, off the computer and in the real world.
I had an idea to start a food museum to influence public debate about food. But that was a little ambitious, so I scaled back the idea to create museum exhibitions. And then I whittled it down a little more.
To make art—or something of the sort. More
Thank you for posting my questions on your website, but unfortunately you failed to answer. More
Decades ago, I stopped shopping for food in the supermarket, only entering for cereal, milk, and tortillas.
Which left cereal.
Due to one hundred years of extensive marketing, cereals have an aura of health—yet the truth can be somewhat hairier. More
The way I shop is different now. During summer, I’ll pounce at the first sight of corn. In March, I embrace all the tomatoes. And when I spy red capsicums—I’m warning you—step aside!
I know what the chooks that laid my eggs eat. My sourdough was made by hand. My milk comes from the dairy an hour away.
Local, seasonal food has changed the way I cook too. Because it’s full of flavour and tastes alive, the mantra “less is more” rings true. I step out of the way and let the produce shine. More