Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Have you walked into the grocery store recently and passed by the egg section? Have you seen the labelling on them? Did you understand them? Or were you like a lot of people who believe that they knew exactly what they were reading only to find out later that it was not? You know the labels I'm referring to; free range, organic, cage free, pasture raised etc. Are you scratching your head yet wondering what's so wrong with them or if I'm crazy?

Don't worry, let's break it down and go through the terms you may see on your eggs and see what the FDA says about them and compare them to what they mean to us.

There are many loop holes in the definition of these terms. As a matter of fact, there aren't even very strict requirements to pass an audit. In the audit manual on the FDA's website, it states that after the initial audit, only 50% of a company's locations that houses laying hens is required to be checked (pg. 5). These are the conditions of the laying birds that are allowed according to the FDA:

  • Debeaking allowed
  • Confinement to small cages allowed
  • Access to the outdoors not required
  • Forced molting allowed (to be phased out in January 2006)
  • Humane slaughter not addressed (pg. 5)
Okay, so let's get down to it. What does it mean to be organic? Wouldn't you think that the animals are fed organic feed and they are kept in an environment conducive to a healthy bird? Well ...... The NOP regulations require that organically raised animals be provided with "access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air and direct sunlight suitable to the species, its stage of production, the climate and the environment." (pg. 58).

That is what the FDA says is required to be called organic. Sounds good, right? Then read the next few lines: Immediately after the NOP regulations were finalized poultry and egg producers complained that they should be exempted from the requirements. In May 2002 the National Organic Standards Board accepted public comment on the issue and adopted a clarification of the requirement. The clarification stated "organic livestock facilities must give poultry the ability to choose to be in the housing or outside in the open air and direct sunlight" and, furthermore, that a producer's organic system plan must "illustrate how the producer will maximize and encourage access to the outdoors." However, the USDA's official interpretation of the "access" provision, released in October 2002, simply said producers must provide livestock with an opportunity to exit any barn or other enclosure. (pg. 58). Still sound good?

Our chickens are allowed to go anywhere on our property and forage for bugs, which is their natural diet. They have access to non-gmo feed made locally for us, if they choose as well. You can see a video of our laying hens on our farm.

The USDA and FDA on free range, pasture raised, etc. - Although there is no regulatory definition for these claims, as a matter of policy, FSIS permits the use of this claim on labels of poultry products under certain circumstances. In order to obtain approval for labels bearing the claim "free range" or "free roaming" poultry producers must provide a brief description of the birds' housing conditions when the label is submitted to the FSIS Labeling and Consumer Protection Staff for approval. ...... There is no independent verification of claims on meat and poultry labels. Preapproval of labeling claims is based on producer testimonials only. .... Due to the fact that poultry is slaughtered at an extremely young age (meat chickens live only approximately six weeks), many birds raised during the winter months never experience the outdoors. The number and size of exits, and the size of the outdoor. area are not specified. Moreover, no limits are placed on animal density or flock size under the "free range" or "free roaming" label. Producers use a variety of concerns, such as weather and risk of disease and predation, to justify denying access to the outdoors. Even when access is provided, conditions may be far from ideal, resulting in the birds choosing to remain indoors where feed is readily available. (pgs. 22-23).

Again, our chickens are free to forage and roam, supplemented with non-gmo feed free of antibiotics.

Are you ok with not knowing the conditions your hens are kept in and as a result now knowing what you're getting in your eggs from the supermarket? If not, come out to the farm and see how happy our chickens are and see exactly where your eggs are coming from. We'd love to have you!


Monday, March 3, 2014

Giving Thanks, Giving Back

Have you heard about our event?! We are so excited to have all of our customers out to the farm for a day of food and fun! Here are all the details!

We love this community and want to be able to give back to our customers and our community to thank them for supporting us! We decided there was no better way than to feed everyone, so on April 5th, 11:00-1:00 or 1:30-3:30, we'll be hosting this event at the farm, 4837 Mickle Ln, and we hope you'll join us. We'll be roasting some turkeys and a pig, along with grilling some of our beef sliders up for everyone to try. Food and drinks will be free and live entertainment will be provided, along with a tour of the farm! The only thing we ask from you? Bring a can of food to donate to our local chapter of Loaves and Fishes as your "admission" to the event. Also, bring a little extra spending money as our farm store will be open (with 5% of all sales going to Loaves and Fishes), we plan to have some baskets up for silent auction, and will have several local vendors from the Downtown Market set up as well. Miss Lucille's Kettle Corn, My Oh My Fried Pies, Bump and Rump, and Meant to Bee are just a few of the vendors we plan to feature! Not only is this a huge thank you to our community, but also a kick off to our summer market season!

If you plan to come to the event, we do ask that you email us at giviningthanksfarm@att.net, comment here, or shoot us a message on the Facebook page, as there will be a limited number of guests allowed. When you make reservations for your family, we'll put your name on tickets that can be picked up at the door, and those tickets will be required to eat! Eating is the best part, so be sure to let us know you'll be coming ahead of time!

Also, please remember that this is a working farm and dress accordingly! We'd hate to ruin anyone's nice clothes or shoes.

This is a great time to come out and have a look around the farm, ask any questions you have, and try our meats for FREE! Whether you are one of our regulars or have been sitting on the fence, we invite you to come out and enjoy the day with us! Be on the look out for more announcements regarding vendors and make your reservations soon as spots will fill up quickly!