Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What's in your Eggs?

We're starting an egg delivery route for our friends in Kings County, Prince Edward Island.  Once a week we'll deliver organic, free range farm eggs from heritage breed hens to our local customers.

So, the point of this blog post is to explain the value of our organic eggs and share factual information with our local customers. But there's more in this post for our friends who are too far for me to serve. I'm going to share information  for other small growers, consumers and shoppers and perhaps most importantly mothers and grandmothers who are interested in choosing healthy food for their families. I'm going to explain how improving the way we eat and live can be a community effort wherever you live.

The Egg Route

When I told a neighbor I was going to start an egg route, she said "Oh, Glen did that years ago".  Glen is the retired farmer across the road from us.  He's lived here all his life. A few days ago I asked him which breeds were here when he was farming.  He said barred rocks and white leghorns. I'm just the next farmer to continue an old neighborhood tradition.  That's an honor. And I'm determined to give it my best.

The Chickens

We "hired" Buff Orpington and Delaware chickens last spring (2012).  We chose these dual purpose heritage breed birds to establish a breeding flock which will keep birds on our farm year 'round.  This can only work for us economically if we fully integrate the flock into our operation as a whole. These chickens must work to create new life, soil fertility, pasture improvement, fresh meat and eggs. And their work can only profit us if we consistently treat each animal in a responsible and humane way.

Organic Eggs 

Dunn Creek Farm is certified Organic by ACO, a non profit organization that inspects and certifies that we are in compliance with Canadian Organic Standards.  These standards define what organic means and what producers must do to be certified. The organic standards support a system that is clean and sustainable in the environment, humane in it's treatment of animals and of greatest benefit in terms of quality to consumers.

For example, the standards state that feed for organic chickens cannot  be exclusively grain based. In winter, when there are no fresh grasses or pasture, we sprout legumes and grains to provide fresh organic greens. Our chickens get increased Omega 3, amino acids and natural hormones from fresh fodder with no chemical spray or pesticide residue. And unlike conventional systems or even chickens raised as "free range", organic certification prohibits the use of grain feeds that contain genetically modified materials, antibiotics, and pesticides (like arsenic).

Nutritional and Health Benefits

But it's more than just what organics don't contain, there are numerous published studies that document the additional nutritional benefits of pasture raised eggs. Mother Earth News published this summary of its findings when comparing pasture grown eggs from 14 farms with USDA standards for commercial eggs:

• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
Read more:

Partnerships That Secure Local Food 

You buy organic eggs and we buy the feed to grow those eggs. We are all in community in this venture.
We have found a local farm family to provide local organic feed. Mark and Sally Bernard grow organic grain on 500 acres.  They roast their own soy beans, mill their own grain and we buy our feed directly from them. Then we share the cost of driving and hauling feed home with a neighbor.  We do this to give you a better price on a better product and support another farm.

When you buy our product you support us and our partners with the dollars you spend. We do our own work and pay our own way to provide for you.  We help secure a healthy local food supply, maintain healthy farms, raise our children and work to feed our neighbors. Manure is not the problem, it's the answer that gives us more fertility. Chickens aren't grown for slaughter, they're grown for life.  Eggs aren't grown for profit, they are the fruit of nature that supports all of us.  The better we all care for life, the better we all live.  
We All Need Mentors

We all seem to know where we want to go.  But sometimes we need a word of encouragement to change direction, adopt new habits, set new goals and follow a new course.  I spent considerable time working on a previous post which formed the basis for my presentation at the ACORN Conference in November.  I knew what I wanted to communicate, but I had (have) so much less experience than so many of the people to whom I was appointed to be speak.  Being the son of a family of academics I went to work on research.  And thank God I found Harvey Ussery of Virginia.  The man not only recognized my dispute with conventional farming adapted into organic systems, he wrote a book that can help all of us move in a better direction. So I will link this blog to a video of Mr. Ussery as an introduction to someone who has captured our vision. In my opinion he is the next step forward for those of us who were mentored into pastured poultry by Joel Salatin.