I’m not sure now how I first became aware of Orren Fox, a fourteen-year-old beekeeper and chicken enthusiast living in Newburyport, Massachusetts. But recently he and I (and his mom, Libby) connected via email and I can think of no one better to feature on a blog devoted to “kids and food.”
Fox says he became interested in chickens several years ago when he visited his babysitter’s nephew’s home and saw chickens being raised there. He was immediately intrigued, read every book he could get his hands on about chickens, and before long he was tending a flock of his own. Sometime later (after learning about colony collapse disorder), his interests expanded to include bee-keeping. Now, according to his blog, Fox has “23 chickens, 4 ducks and 250,000 bees in four hives,” and he also tends his own vegetable garden.
But Fox’s activities and focus extend well beyond his own backyard. For a fourteen-year-old boy, he’s already remarkably aware of — and passionate about — issues of food sustainability, and his efforts and writing haven’t gone unnoticed in the food movement. Fox serves on the “kid advisory board” of ChopChop magazine (the cooking magazine for kids and longtime friend of TLT) and he’s been featured by Mark Bittman, NPR, the Huffington Post and other news outlets. This month he appears in the most current issue of Yankee magazine.
Reading these articles, you immediately sense this teenager’s passion, eloquence and general groundedness. He’s a rabid Celtics fan and, like a lot of kids his age, dreams of becoming a star athlete, but he also treats his birds with care and affection (and has a name for every one of them) and tends to his bees barefoot because, he says, “I think if I show my bees that I trust them, they will trust me.” He’s become a vegetarian (his parents have followed his lead in that regard) and he’s slowly but surely influencing his peers to think about where their food comes from and why it matters.
In describing to the Huffington Post how he and many of his friends feel about food, he said:
I don’t think we call it A Sustainable Lifestyle . . . . we do it cause we think it is right, it just makes sense. Know what I mean? We can’t imagine a non-sustainable lifestyle . . . .
I think Sustainable is kind of confusing word for me. If something weren’t sustainable why would we do it? So how do we get kids involved? Well I think kids are really smart. We get it. If we know that all the GMO corn (high fructose corn syrup) is bad for us, we will think twice about it. If we know the animals are tortured, we will think twice about it. We will also tell our parents, and ask them to not buy it. I think kids are teaching their parents about recycling. We don’t even think about it, we expect for their to be recycling bins next to trash bins. Are parents weren’t raised that way, so we are teaching them.
I hope you find Orren Fox as inspring as I do! I’ve shared his blog, Happy Chickens Lay Healthy Eggs, with my own children to show them that even young kids can make a real difference in the food world.
In addition to his blog, you can also find Orren Fox on Twitter at @happychickens and @happyhoneybees.
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