Your backyard is as local as you can get for food. Thousands of people around the country have started growing organic produce in their yards, and some have even taken it a step further and started raising chickens for fresh eggs. "You’ll know what the chickens ate and how they lived. As with a backyard vegetable garden, backyard chickens give you some measure of self-sufficiency," explains Christine Heinrichs, author of How to Raise Chickens: Everything You Need to Know (Voyageur Press, 2007).
About three hens will provide a family of four with plenty of eggs, but before you start salivating over the thought of fresh, Sunday-morning scrambled eggs, it's important to understand what raising backyard chickens entails. And if you don't find your lifestyle friendly to home-raising poultry, don't feel bad. You can do the next best thing and buy your eggs from local small-flock poultry farmers who let their chickens live more natural lives outside (compared to filthy, factory-farm cage conditions). You can even join organizations like the Society for Preservation of Poultry Antiquities or the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy to support the cause. "Everyone doesn’t need to keep their own chickens, but by supporting each other, we can create stronger local food networks that will serve all of us better," says Heinrichs.