Response to Alex Berezow’s Backyard Chicken Article on the American Council on Science and Health

alex berezow backyard chickens hypocrite

Just finished writing to Alex Berezow of the American Council on Science and Health. He’s the guy that wrote this article:…/no-brian-williams-your-job-isnt-scar…
also wrote this article titled “Backyard Chickens Are Fun, Until The Vomiting And Diarrhea Begin…/backyard-chickens-are-fun-until-vomi…

For an organization with a mission to prevent alarmist garbage news, this doesn’t seem well aligned. And the guy writes like a thug, which is fine when you’re not trying to pass yourself off as a morally superior unbiased journalist. Below is my response, which I had to put on the Brian Williams fearmongering article since the other one doesn’t allow comments now:


Clearly the fear industry is profitable. It’s really a shame that journalists try to scare their readers, and editorialize and let emotion rule their articles just to get clicks and shares. Like this prime example:…/backyard-chickens-are-fun-until-vomi…

Backyard chickens = vomit & diarrhea. Right.

Because, like you said:

‘As part of the “natural is better” movement, many Americans — particularly those who live in the city and know absolutely nothing about agriculture — have decided that playing farmer is a fun pastime. It certainly can be a fun hobby… that is, until the vomiting and diarrhea begin.’

We’re all playing at being farmers. We know nothing about agriculture. We should absolutely leave it to professionals, because large farm operations never have outbreaks of salmonella that get back to the general population through purchases of eggs, chicken, alfalfa sprouts, etc. We’re pretty dumb people who really love spraying waste from both ends because we have an idyllic view of chickens, right?

‘This entire story illustrates the fallacy of the “back to nature” or “farm-to-table” movement. Just because you know where your food comes from doesn’t mean it’s any healthier. As it turns out, there’s a really good reason why we have “processed food”: It makes the food safer for us to consume.’

Again, I’m sure you have context for this. Eggs produced by pastured hens aren’t any more nutritious, right? (…/research-shows-eggs-pastured-chickens…) Maybe you have data on the percentage of the total chicken keeping population these ‘ambitious urban cowboys’ account for- I mean, that would be the responsible thing to consider when writing an article talking about backyard chicken keepers like they’re all getting sick from their hens.

I almost forgot to mention: you’re harping on ‘farm to table’ and people wanting ‘natural’ food because it’s healthier. And that’s totally debatable in so many cases, I agree. But that’s NOT what drives most people to have a backyard flock. There’s a human element there that makes us care about animal welfare, which is something that’s pretty appallingly done in a factory farm setting. I do it because I want kids in the area to know what chickens are, and how they produce eggs (nevermind the adults who don’t know how they produce eggs). And I do it to improve soil health and water retention in my backyard. Is all of that just as easy to mock?

I don’t know why you even talked about eggs in the article honestly. The CDC numbers you reported are from LIVE POULTRY interaction, and I quote:

‘The CDC reports that 10 separate Salmonella outbreaks, affecting 48 states and DC, has sickened 790 people and hospitalized at least 174. The outbreaks have been linked to hatcheries where people handled ducklings and chicks.’

Ref July 2017

You’re not wrong when you say a hen could be “plopping out little time bombs”. You’re not wrong, but you’re being alarmist. And if you weren’t headlining an organization dedicated to sound journalism and science, I’d be a lot more understanding. I’d be even more understanding if you said that in the context of a CDC report concerning salmonella from backyard chicken EGGS, rather than tossing it into your article like the eggs are part of the CDC outbreak report.

And one more quote from you I’d like to address: “And be on the lookout for predators. If you live in the wrong part of town, a hawk just might swoop in for a snack. Your precious little chickens might last a morning, but by afternoon, the survivors would be asking not to be free-range anymore.”

This non sequitur really shows you’re out of your element Alex. The chickens would TOTALLY be asking to free-range again. They’re not that smart, and they really like to roam.

Here’s a screenshot of the article in case it ever disappears:

That’s not alarmist or click-bait at all, right? Reference: