Chickens Don’t Care About Design

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I work for a company that is crazy about design. And for the 15 years I’ve worked there, it’s taken a long time for it to sink in–this design craze. Sure, I appreciate good design when a material item functions so well that I hardly notice it. And I love my ergonomic work chair. But design and me? We’ve never really clicked. That’s why I write a food blog. 

So when I received a complimentary issue of the March, 2010 Metropolis magazine this week, I couldn’t resist commenting on the fabulous “prefab [egg] layer farm” designed by Peleg/Burshtein Architects of Israel and featured in the article “Fair or Fowl?”. 

I admit, it looks really cool. It would make a very nice second home. Or perhaps you could modify it into a trailer that you pull behind your car. It’s certainly sleek and non-obtrusive. And the features listed in the magazine are definitely appealing–to people: 

  • “Greenery helps the structure blend into the rural landscape.”
  • “The south-facing roof is extended to shade from the sun.”
  • “Pylons detach the farm from the landscape and allow it to be built in rough terrain.”
  • “Wind turbines and PV cells generate energy that is fed back into the grid.”
  • “The prefab building is made from segments that can be assembled into nearly any size.”

Such design-oriented descriptions. Very clever, and quite beautiful if this were a home for humans. 

But it’s not. The pre-fab layer farm is simply another approach toward the industrialization of food, this time in Israel, where farmers aren’t too happy about it. 

According to Metropolis (which I can’t link to without a subscription to the magazine), “the new farms have drawn fire for threatening open spaces and imposing an industrial model on small farmers.” 

While the designers have attempted to blend the farm into the landscape and build sustainable architecture, wind turbines, and PV cells into their design, a coalition of groups in Galilee have criticized “the farms’ potential impact on the landscape, village life, and animal welfare.” 

The move toward industrialized egg farming is an attempt by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to improve efficiency and reduce pollution. The bottom line, however, is that it’s a move toward factory farming. The architects argue that “instead of each [farmer] having a small, outdated, unsafe, and polluting henhouse in his own residence, it will be housed in a cleaner, safer environment….That means they will actually make more money using these henhouses instead of the old ones.” 

Key words: Make more money. 

Thank you, but I’d rather get my eggs from the outdated henhouse. And I think that’s what the farmers in Galilee are trying to get across, too. At least the hens are happy, which means they’re producing happy eggs. When will food producers cease focusing on money? What we need is good, safe, happy food.


2 responses to “Chickens Don’t Care About Design

  1. I think the key is *more* money… I fully expect food producers–on any scale–to want to make money. I think we’ve all gotten carried away with making money, though, losing our concept of “enough.” We can all help on this one, I think, by wanting less, consuming less, and being willing to spend locally and thoughtfully on the fewer things that we still want to buy.

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