Chicken's Not a Game
[Re "Coming Home to Roost: Burlington Updates Its Ag and Livestock Rules," June 25]. Don't be deceived by the hype. Raising backyard chickens sounds like a humane option, but what people don't realize isthat chicks usually come from inhumane conditions. They're mass-produced in places where profit trumps humane treatment. For every female chick, a male rooster is ground up alive, left to languish on a "dead pile," or improperly sexed and shipped — only to be killed, abandoned or sent to an overburdened sanctuary.
Sanctuary requests for chickens have significantly increased since the rise of backyard farming.Chickens have special needs and require veterinary care. Don't expect to order chicks, put them in a yard and, "Hurray, free food!" Chickens are sensitive and require insulated and well-ventilated shelter. Chickens attract rodents and predators; they need protection. Veterinarians for chickens can be difficult to find and expensive. Chicks need a balanced diet and daily care; get ready to hire a chicken sitter.
Backyard slaughter: Who wants to live next door to a makeshift slaughterhouse run by hobby farmers who are likely uninformed about "humane" slaughter and lack the skills to ensure minimal suffering?
Want a backyard flock without supporting cruelty? Adopt adult hens in need of homes. They may not lay as many eggs, but you'd give them a second chance at life (petfinder.com). But do your research and prepare to take care of them. Treat them right and you will find chickens are intelligent animals full of personality.
Loved the Rokeby Museum article, as a postcard collector and also a newcomer to Vermont [Art Review: "Postcards From the Past," July 9]. I just want you to know that I enjoy Seven Days both in print and online — especially the arts articles and the advertisements. Since we are serious about becoming part of this community, I research your paper and the Eagle, etc., about the state. I do wish you would do more articles about Rutland. Yes, it's scruffy, but it is on the rise, and I like to hear positive stuff about Rutland, too. More positive Rutland articles might translate into more Rutland advertising — you never know.
But mostly, I appreciate your efforts and want you to know that your paper has inspired us to travel north for museums, dining and music. Please encourage your writers and advertisers to put the name of the town in the articles and ads for those too new to just know where they are talking about.
If You Can't Stand the Heat...
Interesting article ["Labor Pains," July 9]. Yes, as it states, Vermont is very expensive to live in, depressingly so, and kitchen pay is not very good, through no fault of most of the owners. Also, a lot of ads ask for "creative cooks." Well, I'm not a creative cook, and I say that right up front. I'm a great line cook. Show me a prototype, and I'm good to go! Also, as much as I want to give local farmers the business, I don't really care about farm-to-table. As a customer, I've eaten a lot of very strange "creative dishes." When I go out to eat, it's generally to try something that I won't make for myself at home, but sometimes it's just for comfort food or to meet up with a friend, when the eating part is secondary. Finally, working in restaurant kitchens is tiring, hot and fast. It also doesn't involve a lot of techno stuff, which is very normal now in the younger people's lives. Basic hard work isn't really in a lot of their life plans. It's a changing world.
Carolyn Van Vleck
Key Ingredient: Better Pay
[Re "Labor Pains," July 9]: The lack of good, qualified people applying to be line cooks in Vermont and elsewhere could have a lot to do with the stagnation of wages in the industry. Most areas of labor have seen wages remain relatively the same compared to inflation, but not food service. Restaurants in general offer almost the same hourly wage today that they offered 20 years ago. We all know gas, rent or housing and definitely food costs have skyrocketed in the last 20 years, but wages have increased little in that time. People aren't willing to toil over a hot stove, earning low wages with little job security and virtually no benefits unless the chef they are working for has a solid reputation and will boost their career. This might explain why so many NECI grads move to food meccas elsewhere or do their own thing here. It's time restaurants start paying living wages and offering solid benefits to their staff.
I have to say I was disappointed and, in fact, quite disgusted with the "Drawn & Paneled" cartoon in your July 9 edition. As a licensed substance-abuse counselor, I found the cartoon offensive, judgmental and the exact opposite of the message that we need to be getting out to the masses about addiction. Addiction is a disease — not a choice — and certainly not the result of a lack of will power. In my time as a counselor, I have worked with hundreds of people in recovery. Most of them face tremendous guilt and shame in the aftermath of their addiction. I can assure you that if it was a matter of something as simple as will power, as your cartoon suggests, to avoid the turmoil of addiction, it wouldn't be the epidemic that it is today. Our governor is trying to say that Vermont is setting the example of how a state deals with addiction. Let's start with compassion! Let's educate and inform each other so we can treat the disease and stop punishing the individual.
In last week's Fair Game column, Paul Heintz inaccurately referred to Jeff Bartley as the former chairman of the Chittenden County Republican Party. While Bartley recently resigned as chairman of the Vermont Republican Party's County Chairs Committee, he continues to lead the Chittenden County GOP ... Also last week, our story about a biodiesel station opening in Plainfield misstated that it would be the first biodiesel-only fueling station east of Berkley, Calif. That's not the case; a list of other biodiesel stations can be found online at the U.S. Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center ... In the June 25 Side Dishes, Alice Levitt announced that Sean Lawson would be among "the gods of beer" at the new September festival, Eat by Northeast. His cult suds will be there at Oakledge Park, but the brewer himself has other commitments.