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Market News – Cracking The Egg

Sunday, September 5, 2010 @ 01:09 PM Karen Jean Matsko Hood

Cracking The Egg

Why eggs are hard to find at the farmers’ market

With the recent egg recall, eggs are all over the news. But eggs aren’t all over the Market. The reasons are kind of complex, but not because we’re worried about Salmonella. Overuse or abuse of antibiotics is the real cause of salmonella.

Eggs are one of the few things where the farmers at the market will not be able to compete with supermarket prices.
The lower price of eggs at the grocery store is at the expense to the environment and the hens themselves. Factory farms increase production by keeping hens in battery cages, beak cutting, and forced molting through starvation.

Supermarket eggs labeled “free-range” come from un-caged hens, but outdoor access is not required, and “Certified Organic” eggs do not have standards for the amount of outdoor access the birds receive. Even with eggs that receive special labels animal welfare can still be in question.

Unlike the eggs that you will get from the supermarket, the eggs that do make it the farmers market come from small family farms that believe in the health and welfare of their hens.  The hens are part of their family. In many cases they can look at an egg and know just what hen laid that egg because different breeds of chickens lay different color eggs.

Our farmers believe in healthy hens and ultimately that leads to healthier eggs.

When you buy eggs at the market they are very fresh. Just a few days old in fact. That is not the case at the supermarket where it takes 2 to 3 weeks for the factory eggs to reach the shelf.

Selling eggs directly from the farm does not require permits. But selling the very same eggs at a farmers’ market requires permits from the Washington State Department of Agriculture and from the Spokane Regional Health District. These permits are costly.

The cost of producing a dozen eggs on a small family farm is often far more than you will even pay at the farmers’ market.  The costs include labor, permits, feed, the cost of chicks, bedding, coop repairs, and egg cartons.

Yes, you heard that right. Farmers often sell eggs at a loss.

“Why?” you ask.

Having chickens on a small family farm can be invaluable. They bring balance to a farm that is dominated by plants bringing a diversity that is found in a natural ecosystem. They add fertility to the soil, eat bugs and snap up weed seeds laying on the soil surface.

The farm fresh eggs may seem expensive but it’s really a matter of what you’re comparing it too.  Joel Salatin sustainable farmer and author often says something like this, “I watch people complain about $5/dozen eggs while drinking a $1.50 pop.”

Who Has Eggs?

If you would like to get fresh eggs at the market you may want to talk to one of our vendors that brings them, which may mean you need to talk to them and order eggs to pick up the following week.

S&P Homestead Farm
Susie David’s Cattle Co.
Quail Ridge Ranch
Harvey Creek
Tall Grass Farm

For the Love of Potatoes
Over the next couple of weeks lots and lots of spuds will be harvested at Susie David’s Cattle Co. and will be making their way to market. Yukon Gold, Norland Red, and German Butterball will be coming in. And this weekend for their Labor Day Sale potatoes will be on sale along with steaks, roasts, ground beef, and sausages.

Americans love potatoes. But most people only ever eat them as French fries. When you pick up potatoes at the farmers’ market there are plenty of other ideas that you can make at home with potatoes.

Skilled smashed potatoes

Kale and Olive Oil Mashed potatoes

Ya, Ya’s Potatoes

Mexican Roasted Potatoes

Stuffed Potatoes

Potatoes should be stored in a cool dark place but not in a refrigerator, as extreme cold will cause their starch to turn to sugar.

Learn more about Susie David’s Cattle Company at their website,

Easy Egg Custard Recipe

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