a pound of feathers : finding security in uncertain times

backyard chickens sussex

I spent some time this morning with CBC Radio, chatting about two different approaches to security – those who horde gold in their bunkers and those who keep backyard chickens. It was a fun, light-hearted look at a serious subject.

CBC asked:

Which is worth more? A pound of gold or a pound of feathers?

It’s got me thinking.

Of course, the obvious answer (to me) is simple:

You can’t eat gold.

And really, if everything is about to go to pot like these folks believe it might (and I’m not saying it might not – you never know!), what use would gold be, really?

Gold has some uses, but is helpful primarily as a means of trade in a developed economic system. If the world ends tomorrow, safe to say most hungry folks wouldn’t be too keen to trade egg-laying chickens for a useless block of metal.

Maybe that’s just me.

So if gold’s not the answer to security in troubled times, what is?


In a round about way, I’d say yes.

In essence, it’s the “teach a man to fish” parable. Even if you can trade your gold for a while, it’s finite. Given a rooster and a few hens, you’ll have eggs and meat for the freezer as long as you please. Same goes for open-pollinated veggies. One seed could effectively feed a village. Kind of amazing, don’t ya think?

Beside, watch any good apocalyptic show and people aren’t fighting over gold.

Book of Eli – water. The Road – food. The Walking Dead – the farm.

Nothing to make you re-evaluate what’s important like a good ol’ case of the zombies.

In our current system, it’s natural to measure security by our current measures of wealth. He who has the most gold wins.


I’d argue that as our awareness of the fragile nature of both our environment and our economies grows, our notion of what it means to be wealthy must change. Will change. Is changing.

If we shift our notion of security and wealth from the current economic view to an ecological one, everything changes.

Chickens, deep-organic farming, urban agriculture, open-pollinated seeds, all share a paradigm of plenty. Life begets life. This is natural and normal. Nature constantly seeks equilibrium.

In stark contrast, our economic system thrives on and rewards inequality. It is this inequality that is causing our current food crisis.

And really, we shouldn’t even call it that. We don’t have a food crisis. The world produces close to double the calories we currently need. Waste, injustice, inequality, lack of access, government apathy, corporate greed and poverty are at the root of our current predicament.

As Joel Salatin says –

We don’t have a food crisis. We have a crisis of imagination.

If we want security, we have to have imagination. We have to imagine a world with different values from the one we have now. Instead of the corporate model of selfishness and profit above all else, we can chose to value community, sharing, selflessness, the common-good.

We can tell our corporations and our governments that we will no longer allow them to poison and kill the geese that lay the golden eggs. We can nurture and cultivate the seeds of security for ourselves, our families, our neighbourhoods, our communities, right in our own backyard.

With every heirloom tomato, heritage laying hen and seed shared we are laying the groundwork for a revolution. For security on our own terms.

Our stocked larders and cheerful chickens will ward off the wolves at the door as we feast within.

*      *     *     *     *

I can’t wait for the piece to air this summer so I can hear the point of view of my counterpoint in the discussion.

The piece airs later this summer on CBC Radio’s “The Invisible Hand”.

8 thoughts on “a pound of feathers : finding security in uncertain times

  1. julia christine stephen

    Of course I was not listening to CBC this morning, like I usually do…figures. I’m sure you were great. 🙂

      1. Matthew

        Hello! Matthew Lazin-Ryder here from The Invisible Hand – 1st episode airs Wednesday, June 27th at 9:30am! Then again on Saturday. The Gold versus Chickens episode is our 3rd episode. Stay tuned!

  2. oceannah

    If you find out when it will air that would be a great thing to post, I’d love to hear you as well as the counterpoint…although I already disagree w/ them.

    1. The Slow Foods Mama Post author

      I think it will be on this Wednesday morning . . . They seem to have an archive on their website as well that you can listen to whenever. I’ll be interested to see how the show frames the discussion . . . It is an economics show, after all. And personally, I think our whole notion of economics needs to be reworked, more along the lines of what Bill McKibbon discusses in Deep Economy.


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