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Chicken Confidential: Local Foods Part II

browneggs.jpg
photo credit Ashley Hockenberry (forgot my camera in St. Paul)

I'm told that supply is an issue for local foods.

We had our first 1 dozen egg day yesterday!! We have reached the point where we are producing more healthy, local eggs than we can eat. With 38 layers we are on track to produce about 190 eggs per week or 15 dozen. They are as "free range" as a chicken in the winter wants to be, eat corn grown on our farm and shelled by a couple of three-year olds on the kitchen floor (note to parents-- little boys love to shell corn and it can keep them busy for minutes at a time!!-- oh but then there is the mouse problem what with corn everywhere).

So now we are trying to find an outlet for our eggs. We eat 3 dozen a week. We have family who will take another 3 dozen per month. I've started to talk to local places about selling them. The results:
1) local grocery store. Tried for a couple weeks, then said "no" very nicely
2) local restaurant. No.
3) neighbor-- can't abide eggs with bright orange yolks (what's with that??)
4) Trotters restaurant in St. Paul. Yes. So Trotters will buy eggs for $1.50 per dozen. 15 dozen per week would be $22.50 per week. The drive, however, is 360 miles round trip or about $180 in mileage reimbursement. I do travel to the Cities often and could drop them off at Trotters. My $22.5 would buy me lunch with a friend or a box of muffins for a staff meeting-- nice quality of life goodies, but not efficient or sustainable farming.

Finding each of these eggs is a treat. The kids and I actually saw one of the chickens laying an egg-- like it was planned. Her face to the wall, snuggled in the bedding-- you could see her settle in and fluff up to lay that egg. So there are many joys and lessons in growing our own food, apart from any economic motivation. But we would like to figure out how to get our eggs into our community.

My other motivations are in "continue reading" cuz it ain't pretty...

I'm putting this here because it isn't really for public consumption.

Some years ago Mike and I lived in Iowa where he worked for a corporation with a subsidiary managing animal waste. I was serving as an environmental protection commission for the State. So we both had unusual access into the egg production industry.

Mike went to an egg production plant where there were millions of layers in long bunkers-- as cruel as anything you have read. He dubbed it "chicken Auschwitz." Mike, a farm boy with zero sentimental feelings about farm animals, was sickened by the treatment of those animals and even HE couldn't eat store bought eggs for months.

At the same time, as an environmental protection commissioner I toured a factory where the laying hens were produced. I looked upon the machine that culled out the male chicks-- it was a vacuum where they sucked up the chicks, ground them live, and then they were processed into feed and fed back to the mothers. I saw this with my own eyes. We have established an industrialize ag systems that is brutal.

In my opinion-- if you are going to do ONE THING to help promote a healthier, more ethical food system, it would be to eat free range "happy" chicken eggs. The world is a better place for that extra $1 per dozen you spend on the free range eggs.

So, I am happy to offer eggs from chickens who are treated as farm animals and not as biological cogs.

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Comments

We'll buy farm fresh eggs if/when you decide to do a Twin Cities delivery. We love orange yolks. :-)

Also, remember that we'd love to have Alma come stay with us so watch for school breaks that coincide with trips to the Cities and then just let us know that you're coming!

OK..I've been buying "Eggland's Best""Now!Great tasting CAGE FREE Eggs....."--says in the small print "All vegetarian hen feeding program" Are they "OK"?or at least better than the average?
On another subject..told you that I was reading the book by Carl Nomura...he tells of his retirement ..to quote"My first crop was organically grown garlic. This was a brainstorm of my son-in-law, Mike Bowen. He helped me plant, but then rushed off to the Bering Strait to his fishing job. This left me the enormous job of weeding. Louise and Teri braided the garlic and rented a stall in Seattle's Pike Place Market. The total expense was fifty-two dollars and revenue was forty-eight dollars. This led to the policy of giving away all of our produce."

Sarah! Thanks for the invite for Alma. Do SPPS have spring break on March 24th? If so, I'd love to bring Alma to play with Veronica for a day! I'll bring some eggs with me.


Mom-- I think that the Eggland Cage Free would be fine. I never saw their operations, but it is better than the cheapest eggs in the dairy case.

Too funny about the book. Our first crop is organic garlic as well-- planted in October. I have the whole braiding garlic thing in mind too. Maybe everyone will get garlic braids for Christmas next year!! Mike says the trick is to price everything high enough that you end up bringing some home for the family (from the farmers market).

Thanks for the comments!

K

Hi, More childhood memories. We traded eggs for groceries in our little town. Later years I don't remember well, but I do know we took them to town. Now I wonder where they went from there.. I will check with some of the cousins for egg memories....OH, I hated washing those eggs! Packing them into an eggcase was the easy part. Bev

You should get WAY more money for those beautiful brown eggs of yours!!!!! They sell for almost $3.00 dz. at Cub foods for gosh sake. And the brown eggs have more nutrients especially if those girls get a chance to run around. And like I said to Mikey in the Christmas letter, stop naming the livestock. =-) Seriously, you should get more cash for those eggs, even out there. Don't let them push you around on the price. $1.50, that's insulting to you.

hey Kathy, it's Brad in Phoenix. I was surfing and came across this chick with the same name as my cousin!!! I read and then the Hayfield/Dodge Center reference and the Delta 88!! And said, that chick is my cousin!! Great writing!!

Thanks for the info Kathy. I wish I could buy eggs from you (CO is a little far). I posted a new video on my blog - that has video footage of the laying hen's treatment. I wish you lots of luck - and LOTS OF HAPPY HEN EGGS.

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