Chic Spotlight: Earth-Friendly Mom Barbie Hahn

Chic Spotlight: Earth-Friendly Mom Barbie Hahn
From raising chickens to reducing waste, this local chef and mom teaches her kids about sustainability through first-hand experiences, and now you can read more about her adventures.

Cincy Chic: While many people have dogs and cats, you actually raise chickens! How and why did you decide to raise those cluckers?


Barbie Hahn, Fox 19 Suburban Chef: The topic actually came up several years ago when our sons had a babysitter that was a 4-H leader. She told us then we had a great property to raise chickens. … A year and a half ago we started talking about it again. As we read more about industrialized food, we realized that now would be good time for Alex and Elliot [my sons] to learn first-hand about where their food comes from. Sure, they go with me to the farmers' markets, but we wanted a more personal experience.


My brother, as a joke, bought us an issue of Backyard Poultry, and that was it. It took the concept of raising chickens for eggs and brought it down to a manageable level. My husband began drawing up plans for the hen house and coop. Then the sound of hammer and nails in the backyard, and "voila," we are micro-farmers! I really owe it all to Mike, my husband, he did so Tava-In-Story.gifmuch research and labor to get us to the point of even having the chickens.


Cincy Chic: How do you use this experience to teach your kids about sustainability?


Hahn: I decided to ask Alex and Elliot your question:


Alex: "Even though it takes us a lot more work to get a farm fresh egg, it is 20 times better tasting than a store-bought one. Hard work is rewarded with great food."


Elliot: "Raising chickens has been fun but hard work, and I have learned that everything is not easy to do. I know that the eggs we raise are fresh and have not been sitting around for weeks at (any) store. I know good food takes hard work."


Cincy Chic: As this is for our Go Green issue and you are Fox 19's Suburban Chef, why is sustainability so important when it comes to food?


Hahn: We have to be good stewards of the earth. … Large agri-business has reduced hunger, but the overall nutritional value of the food we eat is in a constant decline. I don't mean packaged food. I mean fruits and vegetables. I read in Nutrition Action Newsletter that broccoli grown 30 years ago had 25 percent more nutritional value than broccoli grown today in an agri-business environment. Fruits and vegetables purchased from your local farmers' markets are higher in nutritional value than those that are mass marketed.…


Cincy Chic: Besides raising chickens, what other efforts do you make toward a more sustainable lifestyle?


 Hahn: It is amazing once you start down a path how it begins to impact all aspects of your life. We currently have an egg carton recycling program. If a customer brings us an egg carton we give them a 0110Fence_INSTORY.gifdiscount on the eggs they purchase. We also feed our fruit and vegetable peels to the chickens, they love them!


I have been thinking about recycling a lot lately. When I look out at our recycle bin, I think, "I need to reduce the amount that is IN the recycle bin." Our neighbors have recycle bins as big as their garbage cans. It is a step in the right direction, but I need to focus our family on the "Reduce" in the "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" mantra. I am searching out ethnic stores and markets which allow you to buy in bulk without packaging. The big bonus in this strategy is that it lowers your food bill too.


We do a lot of "Reuse." I purchase the majority of my clothes from the Snooty Fox second hand clothing store. We visit Plato's closet a lot for the boys. All anyone can do is try to incorporate little changes that work for their family. We just take it one step at a time.


Cincy Chic: When you aren't cooking up a storm or tending to the chickens, what do you like to do for fun?


Hahn: This winter I bought Mel Bartholmew's book Square Foot Gardening. I have always grown lots of herbs and some tomatoes every year. Not since I was a child have I tried to grow anything else. The concept seems manageable: small square-foot gardens, growing the things you love to eat the most.


041210SPOTLIGHT3.jpgI am the guest chef at the Anderson Farmers' Market in the summer, so your readers can find me there a couple Saturdays a month during the market season. In the summer I also like to ride my bike to the Farmers' Market in Milford then ride downtown and have coffee.


Food is social. The farmers love to tell you how to use their veggies and fruits, so I get lots of inspiration from them for the cook book I am starting to write. I am also heavily involved with Tender Mercies, a non-profit that provides transitional and permanent housing for individuals with mental and emotional disabilities. Our family will take meals to the residents.


I guess food flows over into almost all aspects of my life!


Cincy Chic: What do you love most about Cincinnati?


Hahn: Cincinnati was a "foodie" town long before it was trendy. Just look around at all of the farmers' markets, Findlay Market, ethnic food events and all of the local farm stands that you can take your children to so they can see how food is grown. Ohio is the heartland, and we are very fortunate to live where we can share our tradition of fabulous locally made food.


I love how friendly everyone is and how you can talk to someone for five minutes at a market and they know your name the next time you come back. Cincinnati is big and small at the same time. We have a lot to offer to a base that has a lot of cultural diversity.

Linda Palacios -

Linda Palacios is the editor of Cincy Chic. Send her an e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .Read More >>

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