Since our first farm to restaurant product was eggs I thought I talk more about them. I feel like I’ve been back in school the past few weeks as I’ve been learning so much about the foods we serve in our restaurant. I’m amazed to learn new things everyday about stuff that I have always taken for granted. Eggs are an excellent eggsample ;-)
I had to add 50¢ to the cost of each breakfast sammich to cover my additional costs from Kevin. At first I wasn’t sure if folks would pay the additional amount. It’s real important to LaValle and I that our food be affordable on an everyday basis for our customers that live and work in the area. But we sold all 3 dozen eggs the first day. So why do Kevin’s eggs cost more? I know he needs to make a living, and farming on a smaller scale can be more labor intensive per unit of output. But as I found out today, there is another reason that folks living in the city might not think about so much. Kevin informed us that when he walked outside this morning one of his 6 guinea hens was walking around the yard calling to her sisters. When he investigated he found that one was dead, and the other four were missing. These are just chicks still and don’t even have all their flight feathers yet. These are not his egg laying hens, those chickens are all fine. Guineas are notoriously territorial and will collectively attack invaders. Kevin had bought them to act as protectors for his egg laying chickens. Unfortunately something got to them first, and now he’ll need to buy more to replace them. LaValle took a picture of them when we were out at the farm last week. It’s hard to see them, but they are in there.
The other big reason organic eggs cost more is feed. Kevin needs to supplement their diet of insects and small plants with a high protein feed so that they’ll grow healthy and lay good, quality eggs. Organic feed is expensive, and that is the only feed he’ll buy. We’ve actually come up with a very ingenious idea to reduce this cost and provide us with a better alternative that gets us to the closed loop farm that is our goal, but I’ll save that story for another issue of this blog. Nothing goes on the farm except that which came off the farm. It’s the only way we can guaranty the total story of the food we sell.
Last week when I was telling one of our customers that the chickens were “free range”, he mentioned that the legal definition of “free range” was simply that the chickens had at least 2 square feet of ground to walk around in. I'm not sure about this, so I think I’m going to stop saying “free range”, and start saying “pasturized” because the only fences other than property line are meant to keep chickens out of specific areas where new seedlings are growing. Here are pictures of one of Kevin’s roosters and two of the chickens that lay the farm fresh eggs you eat here at the Purple Bean, they seemed very happy to us J
I was curious to know if there are any differences in quality between factory raised chickens and Kevin’s chickens. To be sure, the Kevin’s chickens lay eggs with a darker yolk, and I’ve noticed that they cook a little differently too. But are they healthier? A 2003 study by Penn State University researchers found that eggs from pastured hens have higher levels of omega 3 fatty acids and vitamins A and E. Our customers are telling us they taste better too. Maybe that better taste is our body telling us what the science confirms (or the other way around). Maybe these eggs really are better for us… It makes sense to me anyway.
Finally, these little ladies not only give us eggs, but they also eat the bugs that are harmful to the veggies Kevin is growing, and they fertilize the ground the veggies grow in. Both of the chicken coops Kevin built are on wheels, and he moves them around the farm to fertilize each part of the land on a rotating basis. It’s using all the beauty of natural relationships to find a scenario where humans can benefit with minimal negative environmental impact. LaValle and I are definitely excited to be offering them to you.