This is Dangerous

In Oakland, California there is a restaurant, a pizza place really, that has embraced organic foods. This is not a new thing for California, which would probably be the first and foremost organic leader in the United States, and I personally have no quarrel with organic anything- the less chemicals the better.
But not all life is benign, or to be embraced- and just because it is organic, it can still kill you. This could very well be the case here.

Reporting from Oakland – When the chickens arrived, clucking and pecking, in the rush of Saturday dinner hour — Witch, Bootsy and five layers to be named later — they transformed Pizzaiolo restaurant into the latest outpost on food’s frontier.

Many urban eateries boast their own kitchen gardens, with mizuna and Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes sprouting on rooftops and busy street medians. Some farms even host top-flight dining rooms, where next season’s prosciutto snuffles placidly nearby.

latimes.com

But not chickens- that is supposed to be a health concern, what with avian flu, and a whole host of other nasty viruses and bacilli  that can be transmitted from birds to humans. I know this because I re- hab wild birds, and have done so for over ten years. The amount of diseases are legion, and range from uncomfortable digestive upsets to really life threatening bacteria, which is why we, as rehabbers, are not allowed to give tours of our facilities when there are young children present. Its a common sense thing- like precautionary medicine- you know,washing your hands, keeping things clean.

In a restaurant the whole cross- contamination thing becomes more difficult when chickens are kept out back.

Just off Pizzaiolo’s back patio is a brand-new, custom-built chicken coop. Eggs laid there in the morning will top pizzas by nightfall. Diners will be able to wander over, Barolo in hand, to commune with the creatures that might contribute to their dinner.

The Chez Panisse graduate and his small flock of exotic fowl — breeds like Buff Laced Polish and Exchequer Leghorn, some with crests like Sunday go-to-meeting hats, others that lay chocolate-brown eggs — are more than just the epicurean avant-garde.

Oakland is undergoing something of an urban chicken renaissance, and Pizzaiolo is a leading indicator.

latimes.com

Fancy chickens do not equate to less nasty poop- and that is where the problem lies in this case. Logic and common sense safety rules are being ignored in the quest to prove just how organic one can be in the “Eden” that is California nowadays.

I know that the restaurant business is competitive, but this is ridiculous- an off- site facility would have been better, and probably been able to do this in a more productive way, but this is California. I bet they get rid of the chickens after the first bout with some of the really nasty common bacteria that thrive in bird poop.

They can think of the impending lawsuit as a learning experience.

If, that is, they are smart. I am not sure that is the case here.

It is a meaningful token in a restaurant that makes a point of telling diners where their food comes from. One recent menu offered “Star Route Farm garden lettuces,” “buttermilk-fried Hoffman Farm chicken” and “Bellwether Farms ricotta ravioli with wild nettles.” The health department issue is a little murkier. Chickens are welcome in Oakland as long as they are 20 feet from houses, churches or schools, says Megan Webb, director of Oakland Animal Services. But they are not allowed at hotels, apartments or restaurants.

The folks at Pizzaiolo — like many urban homesteaders — tend to have an “ask forgiveness, not permission” attitude. Hallowell says he would fight to keep his flock, if it came to that. 

But he doesn’t think it will. “Alameda County is really liberal,” he notes, happily. “You can grow 70 pot plants. Why not chickens?” 

latimes.com

Because, dude, pot plants do not carry deadly bacteria that can kill you, and California is not known for common sense.
Blake

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