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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > Urban Chickens 2019 > FOUR-SEASON Foraging


Different times of the year bring different challenges for a free-ranging flock.

Nutritionism, a concept that writer Michael Pollan has addressed and condemned in recent years in his book, In Defense of Food (2009), suggests that individual nutrients can provide a complete diet, rather than whole foods themselves. Simply, it’s the idea that the nutritional value of a food is only equal to the sum of its presently identifiable parts.

Processed foods, including chicken feeds, often contain synthetic versions of added nutrients, because we tend to value a nutrient itself, rather than the whole of its natural food origin. Foods in their most natural forms possibly contain beneficial nutrients or combinations of them we’ve yet to discover. While chicken-feed labels reinforce the reliability of laboratory nutrition analyses, do the industry standards beat the entirety of known and unknown nutrition in a natural polyculture lawn?

Due to the demands we place on our livestock, like laying an egg every 25 hours, there’s no disputing the continued need for grain feed: The ideal nutrient formulations are developed to get maximum output from feathered egg machines. But, if we imagine that nutrition is complete in processed feeds, should we assume that grain feed is enough to satisfy a plant- and animal-eating omnivore?

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Urban Chickens 2019, Best Breeds for Small Space Living, Diet option for a City Flock, Free Range in your Yard, Your guide to backyard sustainability, And More.......