I’m not particularly trendy.
Sure, there was that time back in the ’90s when I saw an unknown rock band that later hit the big time. But that was decades ago, before gray hair, children and the suburbs.
That’s why I’m shocked to find myself currently on the cutting edge of popular culture. So what is it that’s qualifying me for glorified hip status? One word: chickens.
Three years ago, my wife and I built a simple coop for our backyard and ordered three chicks online for $2 each. We were more interested in eating fresh eggs than being in the midst of a cultural explosion.
Chickens are seemingly everywhere these days. About once a week, someone e-mails me a newspaper article on the backyard chicken trend. Chickens are definitely having their moment in the sun. Even the “Incredible, Edible Egg” marketing campaign is making a comeback.
The backyard chicken boom is a small part of a back-to-roots/return-to-the-earth/homesteading—pick a phrase—movement that’s taken hold across the country. In addition to raising chickens, folks are growing their own fruits and vegetables and even composting. At the same time, phrases such as “sustainable” and “eco-friendly” have become firmly entrenched in the lexicon for consumer products, including home furnishings.
Just about every decent-sized town hosts a weekly farmers’ market, as consumers add another stop to their shopping day. Farm-to-table restaurants tout their local ingredients. Upscale menus faithfully document where their chickens, steaks and veggies are harvested.
It’s more than a little ironic, and probably not coincidental, that consumers are looking to return to nature as they become increasingly dependent on technology. Just as consumers are in the midst of a never-ending search for the perfect mobile device, they’re also spending loads of energy and money to get closer to nature.
The back-to-nature trend was on full display at last month’s High Point Market as it was chock full of sustainable, eco-friendly offerings. Home decor was made of elaborate, natural wood carvings, and updates on the long-lived “country style” included 21st century versions of roosters and hens. Rug makers introduced items made of hemp and jute for consumers who want to bring nature indoors.
Not surprisingly, retailers are getting back to the garden as well.
Williams-Sonoma.com has added a full-line of backyard chicken coops starting at around $900. The retailer’s website includes a detailed “Raising Chickens” section with information on selecting coops and chickens, and caring for eggs.
Not to be outdone, Neiman Marcus’s 2012 Christmas Book features a Versailles-inspired chicken coop with a living room, a chandelier and a library filled with chicken and gardening books. It includes raised gardens for vegetables and herbs—all for $100,000.
Now, that’s a lot of scratch.