Main Street Project

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How Our Chickens Help People

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For as long as chickens have been domesticated, they’ve been helping farmers thrive. They are both the most popular and fastest growing livestock animal in the world, raised in every country except Vatican City, and eaten everywhere. There are few religious prohibitions against poultry and they are typically the easiest livestock to access. They are essential to the health, food security, and livelihoods of poor people around the world. Their popularity stems not only from their protein-rich meat and eggs: their natural instincts and versatility make them a farmer’s best friend, and a boon to their entire community.

Unfortunately, industrial agriculture has turned this metaphorical plowshare into a sword, or more of a grenade, causing suffering to the chickens and the people around them. The poultry industry damages the respiratory health of workers in the coops, and can inflict long-term, debilitating injuries on those forced to process the meat at a breakneck pace. Coops and processing facilities also poison the air and water. The vertical chokehold on the chicken industry from egg to table allows a monopoly to control prices and wages, dictate the behavior of farmers, and externalize costs with relative impunity. Plus, isolating poultry from farms contributes to numerous unsustainable agricultural practices that also diminish the quality of life in rural areas.

Main Street Project lets the chicken be the exceptional integrational catalyst it is, contributing to the well-being of the entire region. Since they fertilize the soil and snack on weeds and pests, there is no need to purchase or apply synthetic inputs, which reduces costs and eliminates the chemical exposure of farm workers and neighbors. By living their lives largely outdoors in reasonable numbers, the terrible smell and worse pollution that comes from those CAFOs is simply gone. And the integration of their behavior with the farmer’s regenerative practices contributes to a diverse, healthy farm output of vegetables, grains, fruits, and nuts that fortify the farmer and consumer.

Most farm workers in the US live in poverty, and most are Latino immigrants whose native communities integrated chickens in subsistence farming. Main Street Project’s poultry-centered model opens the economic door to these workers with its low initial investment, while planting the seed for a variety of integrated crops and industries hungry for rural employees and entrepreneurs. Farming, marketing, distribution, the creation and packaging of value-added products, and other opportunities revitalize regional economies and strengthen community ties. The concentration of ownership and power is the foundation of the conventional food system’s unsustainable, destructive model, but poultry is a fulcrum for turning that system on its head, and distributing ownership equitably among people.

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