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Bennett traces his love of nature and preference for sustainability to his childhood in Hawaii, where his father, a surgeon, raised chickens.
“We ate a few of our chickens when I was a kid, but my father would always get depressed afterwards,” he remembers. “Still, if you had to kill your own chicken, you'd savor it and use it all; you wouldn't waste so much.” Bennett can't bring himself to kill any of his chickens; he trades some eggs to a neighbor for locally raised chicken meat.
Reducing waste is another reason for Bennett's food choices. He feeds his chickens vegetable tops and other cast-offs from his garden or from local grocery stores. Then he uses the chicken manure as fertilizer for his extensive vegetable garden, which he's been tending for 15 years. What his family doesn't grow, they buy locally, if possible.
As he thinks about adding pigs to his resources, Bennett plans to offer fenced plots for neighbors who don't have a good gardening area on their own property. He'd also like to get others involved in harvesting the garden. Many of his plans and philosophies are about building community.
“No one depends on anyone anymore, so we're disconnected.”
For more information on Bennett's research, read “Tag-Team Proteins” in this issue.
Photos: Jeffrey McCullough