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by Emily Badger
The Atlantic Cities


Jennifer Murtoff’s best marketing device is her rubber chicken purse. People always ask about the rubber chicken purse. That gives her an in to talk about chickens, about how she started raising them in the 4th grade in rural Pennsylvania, about how she has loved them ever since and now loves helping other people figure out how to raise them, too.

Then she pulls out her business card. It’s got a photo of her holding a chicken on one side and this quote from Frank Lloyd Wright on the back: “Regard it as just as desirable to build a chicken house as to build a cathedral.” When she hands it to people, she introduces herself as Jennifer Murtoff, urban chicken consultant.

“And then they usually say ‘That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard! How do you make any money at that?’” Murtoff laughs.

This may be the best (or at least, our favorite) indication yet that food-conscious city-dwellers are increasingly bypassing the supermarket for the back-yard urban farmstead: There is someone in Chicago who works as an urban chicken consultant.

This isn’t just happening in Chicago. People are constantly sending Murtoff links to articles about chickens in Dallas, chickens in San Francisco, chickens in New York City. People contact her for help changing local regulations in towns that aren’t chicken-friendly. She may have to add this to her menu of services: chicken character witness. Murtoff has never, though, come across anyone else who does what she does, and she is certainly the only game in Chicago.

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