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My Retro Egg Cartons

When I attended the 3rd annual Young Farmer’s Conference in December  one of the most interesting classes that I attended was called “Designing and Running an Animal Welfare Approved Pastured Egg Operation”. It was a really interesting presentation and you can get Animal Welfare Approved certificates for the following species:  Chickens, hogs, beef cattle, dairy cattle, meat sheep, dairy sheep, meat goats, dairy goats, turkeys, ducks & bison. Having this label certifies that you raise your animals only on pasture or range and that you treat your animals with respect and compassion. It is also USDA approved. The organization charges nothing for their services. Once they determine that your farm – big or small – fits their criteria they will come out and audit your farm. If your farm meets their requirements they will help you with label design and any other materials that you require and help you every step of the way.

There is significant data that shows that people are willing to pay more for something that they know is humanely raised, even if it ends up on their dinner table. I’m a meat eater. I don’t see that changing any time soon. However, I am willing to pay more money for a product that I know was raised in a humane way and slaughtered compassionately (is that an oxymoron?). And don’t fool yourself when you’re buying your eggs in the grocery store and reach for the “free range eggs”. The USDA guidelines for free-range eggs is that “the chickens have a door that allows them access to the outside.” At a large-scale factory farm in a barn with thousands of chickens one door might allow them the ‘opportunity’ to go outside, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll have access to grass, weed seeds or insects; It may only be a concrete slab. For chickens to produce the most healthful and flavorful eggs and meat, they need to be able to eat a variety of green plants, seeds and bugs. Unfortunately, you can’t always tell how the chickens live by reading the package in a store. I’d encourage you to find a local farmer who raises poultry on pasture. You can read more information on this on Mother Earth News. One day (if you don’t own your own chickens), pick some up at your local farmer’s market and compare it to your normal run-of-the-mill grocery store egg. Look at the difference in the yolk color. factory farmed eggs’ yolks are a very pale yellow. Fresh pasture-raised eggs are a vibrant orange color. pastured eggs we offer have more beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin E and Omega-3’s and less cholesterol and saturated fat than factory farm eggs

One of the lovely presenters at this class was a woman named Georgia who owned Kinderhook Farm in Ghent, New York. She was so enthusiastic about her farm and the program. She raises laying chickens, beef cattle and sheep on a 100% grass and legume diet and all of her animals are Animal Welfare Approved. She was currently working on adding meat chickens to her operation. Her farm is definitely someplace I will visit this spring to see how she runs everything.

She had on display the egg cartons that she was using for her eggs that she sold directly from her farm store. They were apparently a retro design of an old-style egg carton and I just loved the different shape. I thought they would stand out from other cartons. She bought them on so I of course ran home and ordered some.

By this summer I will be selling my eggs. I’ve got 27 female chickens that are laying (although it’s always pretty slow in the winter months). Come April or so I’ll be drowning in eggs and am excited to be able to offer them for sale finally. The big question that I haven’t figured out the answer to is how to package them. I have a fair amount of bantam chickens that lay tiny eggs, and the rest of the chickens lay what would be considered “large” eggs by egg classification standards in colors of white, brown and varying shades of blue. I will most likely do some as mixed boxes of varying size eggs and some of just small bantam eggs. They certainly all taste the same.

This is the design I came up for a label. This is just a rough idea as I’m not sure what the proper wording should be yet.

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