Even though I grew up in a city, I have always been drawn to the country lifestyle. Since I graduated from high school, I have lived the majority of my adult life in towns with less than 12,000 people. In 2011 we finally bought a house on our little island, and although it is in a neighborhood, our community shares three and a half acres with a neighboring co-housing community that can be used for gardening and keeping animals. This allows us to keep chickens, but share in the responsibility with four other families. Although I anticipated enjoying sharing the experience with my children, I underestimated the personal satisfaction I would feel in raising and caring for these creatures. There is a certain bliss after I have cleaned out the hen house, maybe moved the fence to a fresh grassy spot, and tossed around some extra scraps for everyone to enjoy. I totally did not expect to feel like that about some birds.
Also, and Martha Stewart has been saying this for years, fresh eggs taste really great. You can seriously see the difference as soon as you crack them. The yolk is twenty times more yellow than commercially raised eggs, as is the intensity of the flavor. It has given me great pleasure to pass on some extra eggs each week to one of our elderly neighbors who always raised chickens herself, but now is not physically able to. She had just stopped eating eggs altogether because store bought eggs tasted so bland and rubbery to her after decades of eating fresh.
I know not everyone is in a spot to keep their own chickens, but you might be able to find someone nearby who can. The website Local Harvest is a good place to start. Most cities in our area actually allow people to keep three or four birds in their backyards. I used to buy eggs from a local/cage-free/organic egg business. And while I know the situation of those birds is better than being literally chained to a perch with their beaks removed while they are fed intravenously (the situation for the majority of factory farmed chickens), the above picture is still a little disconcerting to me. It is actually from an article praising the aforementioned local egg business for their practices. But after spending the last year around chickens, I know this situation is not ideal. My goal this year is to move more towards consuming animal products either from animals that I have raised or that I actually know and trust the person who raised them. It is a lofty goal, and I know we won't always be able to do it, but any purchases we do make this way will feel pretty good.