Today Debbie Glade steps outside the box and reviews a unique book for parents, or any adult who has an interest in chickens.

chickens_When I was invited to review a book called Chickens: Their Natural and Unnatural History, ($24.95, Skyhorse Publishing, Adults) at first I asked myself, “How much is there to actually write about chickens and how can the topic be at all interesting?” But my curiosity got me to open up the cover and dive right in. Author Janet Lembeke came up with the idea to write a book about chickens after she started raising her own hens, something I have always wished I could do. It would certainly give new meaning to the term “fresh eggs.”

Wow. Did you know that chickens have been around for some 35 million years? Well if you read this book you’ll not only learn all about the genesis of chickens but also the countless fascinating ways chickens have been used throughout history – as food, as medicine, as curses, for cock fighting, in science, in literature and more. Lembeke’s smooth writing style and sense of humor kept me wanting to read more and more about these feathery creatures and the important roles they played in the lives of so many before us.  There’s even a chapter on eggs and also one on cooking and recipes. 100 historic and modern photographs and drawings complement the book nicely.

“It’s better to be the head of a chicken than the rump of an ox.” – Japanese Proverb

I learned such a great deal of fascinating facts  – for example the bacteria salmonella was named after Dr. Daniel Salmon, the very first person to receive a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine in the United States. I also was brought up to speed about the many challenges we face today in the race to keep up with the demand to produce the chickens we consume in the modern world. It’s often disappointing to learn about where our food comes from, but it’s something we need to know.

So if you’re like me and are fascinated by the food you cook, eat and serve your family, you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading Chickens: Their Natural and Unnatural History. And the best thing about reading this book is that you’ll be able to hold your own if you should find yourself in a conversation about chickens. After all, there’s so much more to know about these birds than why they crossed the road.

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