Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs ARE NOT affected by egg recall. See Details »

Unaffected by Massive Egg Recall

By now you have no doubt heard about the massive Salmonella egg recall that was announced on April 13th by Rose Acre Farms and the FDA. While this recall is in no way connected to Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, we are astonished by its impact and size – 207 million eggs packaged across about 9 different brands and distributed in 9 states. 207 million eggs is enough to let well over half of the U.S. population eat an egg for breakfast.

And here’s the incredible part: that number of eggs came from a single farm in North Carolina, over just 93 days of production. That means they are producing over 2 million eggs per day from over 2 million hens in one location – all in cages. Most Americans don’t know that about 9 out of 10 eggs are produced in facilities exactly like this.

At Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs we simply don’t believe in factory farming. We partner with small, independent farms that can manage their egg operation with just their family. That typically means they will just have one, sometimes two, Certified Humane, free range barns with readily used outdoor pasture. This is better for farmers, farm communities, and hens. It is also better for the people who buy our eggs; they can trust the actual farmers who care for the hens that produce those eggs.

While it is not possible to fully prevent disease we feel very strongly that how you farm goes a long way toward reducing the risk. It’s just another reason we hold a small farm philosophy, and partner with over 120 small family farms.

Please tell us what you think below.

Where Do Your Eggs Come From?

If you’re a regular purchaser of our organic, free-range eggs, you know that we don’t produce all our eggs here on the home farm in New Hampshire. We did once upon a time, when we were just a small family farm ourselves. But as demand for our wonderful organic eggs grew over time, we had a decision to make. Should we keep adding barn after barn to our farm, which is certainly an efficient way to produce eggs, and wind up more like the enormous factory farms that nearly put us out of business only a few years before? Or, should we grow in a smarter, kinder and more sustainable way?

We choose the latter.

Where Our Farms Are

We now sell eggs in all 50 states, and those eggs are laid by hens on over 50 independent, small family farms that we partner with (see the interactive map here). They provide us with incredible, organic, free-range eggs. We provide them with the processing, packaging, and transportation they need to get their eggs to market.

Becoming a Pete and Gerry’s Organic Egg Farmer

Each farm in our partner network must go through a years-long vetting process with us, and become certified by Humane Animal Farm Care to become Certified Humane, which insures that they will be able to produce the kind of high-quality eggs our customers expect. It’s a true partnership with our farmers. We work with them throughout the process – helping them with barn construction, equipment purchases, and in most cases, really teaching them how to be successful as an egg farmer. And it doesn’t stop there, we are in touch with all of them weekly about the nutrition mix in their feed, flock health, and a range of other issues.

Every Farm Tells A Story

The result is farmers that stay with us for many years and are able to support their families with a livable income. Most of them have young children who help walk the barns picking up eggs, take care of the birds, and work in the packing room where the eggs are placed into pallets for shipping to us. You can learn about their lives here, or by watching this video.

Growing by Staying Small

Our customers like you tell us they appreciate that their eggs are helping to support their states and local communities. In that spirit, we continue to develop new farm partnerships further west and south as our grocery distribution expands in those regions. It is a multi-year process, but we’re making progress. As a B Corporation, we’re very proud of the difference this business model is making in dozens of small communities where our farms thrive.

To see where our farms are today, you can click on our farm map and see all the individual farms in the states where we have partnerships thus far. If we’re not already there, we hope to be in your state producing local farm eggs very soon.

Know of a farm that might like to partner with Pete and Gerry’s? Have other comments about our small family farm approach to making your eggs? Please share with us in the comments!

Pete and Gerry's Caged Hen

What the end of the OLPP rule means for your organic food

The OLPP rule was created to ensure your organic food met the standards you’ve come to expect. That rule was just overturned. Here’s what you need to know.

It probably comes as a little surprise to anyone who reads this blog that the Trump Administration is hostile to small businesses, to everyday consumers, and to, well, animals. On December 15, 2017, they made official what everyone knew was coming: they killed the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule.

Read more in this Washington Post article.

A quick review of the OLPP Rule:

The OLPP rule was developed to close a significant gap in the original USDA Organic Standards, between consumer expectations and industry practice. This gap allowed unscrupulous producers to sell cheap organic eggs and meat by raising them in factory farm conditions. As long as the feed was organic, it didn’t matter if the animals were badly cramped and grossly mistreated.

OLPP sought to update the standards such that consumers who paid more for Organic got what they expected: humane treatment and healthy living conditions. It also sought to protect small, responsible farms that were already maintaining high standards of animal care to be able to compete with the rock-bottom prices of Big Ag Organic.

The rule was seven years in the making, going from conception, through public review, and final passage by the Obama Administration in 2016. It was the definition of a thoughtful, democratic process and should have been left in place. Out of the 47,000 public comments made about the proposed rule change, 99.9% were in favor of it.

Just 27 individual comments were opposed to the new rule. These were obviously 27 very powerful voices, however, because the Trump Administration instantly sided with this infinitesimal fraction of the country upon taking office. As Brian Levin of Perky Jerky said: “it’s just about getting the fat cat fatter.”

The results of the decision to kill the OLPP rule

The tragedy here is manifold. There are the small farmers, like those we work with every day, who will continue to have to try to absorb the actual costs of responsible farming, while their giant competitors ignore those costs. And, there are the consumers who are becoming increasingly mistrustful of the USDA Organic seal. This is so unfortunate because so many things about this voluntary standard remain important and meaningful. But it’s no wonder that trust is eroding with decisions like this one.

For now, we will keep up the fight. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has filed a lawsuit to see if a court will reverse this egregious abuse of power and process. Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs will continue to offer Certified Humane Free Range, Organic eggs that meet and exceed the expectations of our customers.

And you can help too; by learning which Organic eggs are following the spirit of the rules, and which are not. Share that knowledge with your friends and family. One way to know is to look for the Certified Humane symbol, the most respected third-party animal welfare certifier in the U.S.

Pete and Gerry's Pasture

What are Pasture Raised Eggs?

It’s a question we’re getting more and more. What does the pasture raised eggs label mean? How is it different from our Free Range pastured hens? And why aren’t Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs pasture raised?

We wrote a longer blog post about this, a little over a year ago, titled ‘Why We Are Free Range and Not Pasture Raised.‘ But, as the question continues to come up, it may be time for an update on the issue.

Humane Treatment of Animals

First of all, we support humane treatment for all farm animals, including hens obviously, and we sincerely hope that people will only buy free range and pastured raised eggs in the future. The Cage Free standard has already been co-opted by factory farms. It is better than the battery cages that still dominate the industry today, but only marginally better, as the hens are essentially confined to larger cages in massive industrial facilities with no outdoor access.

Pasture Raised Eggs vs. Free Range Eggs

As for the difference between free range and pasture raised eggs, they are both excellent standards; provided that they are certified by a credible 3rd party, such as Certified Humane, as ours are. Beyond that, our firm belief is that the amount of space our hens have is more than sufficient. You can see that in all of the photos of our family farms, where the hens rarely cover more than a small fraction of our substantial pastures.

History of Pasture Raised Standards

The much larger space requirement for Pasture Raised actually originates from a British soil management standard defined in the 1940s that was based on rotational grazing needs. In other words, the amount of space per hen was not based on having enough for the hens to be comfortable, but how much you need if you are moving flocks from pasture to pasture.

The idea was to ensure viable grass and soil for other crops or animals after the hens had been on it for a period of time. So the space requirement had nothing to do with animal welfare.

Despite this, it was adopted by the two primary certifiers in the U.S. as the “Pasture Raised” standard. And interestingly, the standard allows for “rotational fencing” meaning that even if they claim 108 sq. ft. per hen, that is the undivided total, not what is available to a hen on any given day.

More space is great. We applaud responsible egg farming at whatever scale. But the more space you use the higher your prices. One only has to look at the price of farmland to know this.

Pasture Raised Eggs vs. Organic Eggs

It’s important to not confuse Pasture Raised eggs with Organic eggs either. They are entirely different things. Laying hens, including Pasture Raised hens, do not get their primary source of nutrition from foraging. It comes from their feed, which is either organic, or it’s not. There are many Pasture Raised Eggs that are not organic as they are fed conventional feed that was grown with pesticides and herbicides.

Our Free Range Organic Eggs

At Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, we don’t see a meaningful difference in animal welfare between these two excellent standards, so we choose to maintain the Free Range standard and sell our Organic eggs for a bit less money. If you prefer to buy Pasture Raised eggs instead, we are absolutely fine with that. Just know that when you choose our Organic, Certified Humane, Free Range Eggs, you are guaranteed that you are getting an egg laid by a hen that has an exceptionally humane existence.

Saving Organic Egg Farms

Recently, I submitted an editorial to some major national newspapers about some actions taken by the Trump Administration on the Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule that was placed into the Federal Register in the final weeks of the Obama Administration. This is a vital issue to all our customers and to all of our organic egg farmers whose very livelihoods may depend on it.

Here are the basic tenets of my letter:

The USDA, now headed by Agricultural Secretary Sonny Purdue, has delayed the implementation of the OLPP rule, for the second time, at the urging of several key members of Congress. This second delay is most likely to result in the rule simply being killed, unless the President, or someone in his administration, intervenes, which at this point is exceedingly likely.

The Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices rule was first crafted over three years ago and was then subjected to years of thoughtful review, examination, and public comment before finally being approved in January with a March 15, 2017, effective date. The rule is overwhelmingly supported by consumers, organic egg producers, and the organic community as a whole. Only “Big Egg” the formerly non-organic, not humane, mega-production companies now moving into the organic market oppose it. And they have some powerful friends.

What the imperiled OLPP rule does is simply standardize the requirements for the humane treatment of animals when their meat, eggs, butter or other products are sold under the USDA Organic seal. In effect, it just brings the original organic regulation up to date with consumer expectations. This rule was designed to correct the vague language in the original regulation and close loopholes so that consumers would get what they thought they were paying for. In the absence of clear standards, a number of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s) were constructed to supply organic eggs. These operations have no regard for consumer expectations or animal welfare and treat animals like cogs in a giant machine. The rule was also designed to protect the small farms like those we work with, who were already farming responsibly, but could not compete with the lower prices coming from the giant factory farms that do not maintain outdoor access for the hens or any other humane standards. Big Egg’s lower prices are not driven by better farmers, superior technology, or smarter people – they are driven solely by the ability to confine massive numbers of hens into colossal warehouses. This disregard for animal welfare and a willingness to mislead consumers does not belong in organic food production. In fact, according to a recent study published by the University of Illinois, 86% of consumers, who often buy organic food, ranked animals raised with high animal welfare standards as highly important. We certainly know that’s how Pete and Gerry’s Organic Egg’s customers feel.

The Big Egg lobby, led by their congressional champions, Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Debbie Stabeno (D-MI), state two key falsehoods about the reason they want to kill this rule now:

One, they claim this will raise prices for consumers. This isn’t true. Organic eggs make up about 4% of the egg market; so it’s very misleading to suggest that all egg prices will increase. Furthermore, what we can say for sure is that it won’t raise prices for products already being produced responsibly, like ours. At Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, we partner with over fifty small, independent, family farms to produce our organic eggs. Not one of them will need to raise their prices as a result of this rule going into effect. And we are, collectively, the leading provider of organic eggs in the country. We don’t need to raise prices, because our farmers are not only already compliant with the revised standards, they exceed them. Allowing hens to move about freely, nest comfortably, drink fresh water, and get outside on grass in good weather is the only responsible way to farm, and it’s what consumers expect is the case when they buy organic.

There can be no illusions about whom Senator Roberts and Senator Stabenow are trying to protect. In Roberts’ home state of Kansas, the largest egg corporation in the world keeps over one million organic laying hens on one site, with nearly 100,000 hens per building, stacked floor-to-ceiling, in a farm complex that could never attain the welfare standards mandated in the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. In Stabenow’s home state of Michigan, one of the largest caged egg suppliers to the McDonald’s corporation also maintains the largest single organic egg production facility in the nation, keeping roughly 2 million hens in two-story barns of nearly 200,000 hens each. Factory organic complexes like these are so inconsistent with consumer expectations; they never should have been constructed in the first place. You simply can’t build a farm that has more than 1,000,000 hens and give them ample access to the soil, grass, and sunlight. These factory farms do not belong in the organic standard, and there will be ample opportunity for them to supply the other 96% of the egg market with their mass-produced eggs. Organic consumers do not want them.

The second falsehood opponents of the new rule claim is that the new rule is bad for farmers. It’s actually good for farmers, if by farmers you mean people who farm for a living. If, on the other hand, they mean the huge corporations that produce most of the eggs, in this country, they’re going to be all right. They always are, especially with the millions of dollars that go to lobbying firms to make sure of it. But the real farmers, the people like Maynard Zimmerman, in Millmont, PA or John Miller in Lyndonville, VT are absolutely counting on this rule to allow them to sell real organic eggs for a price that reflects what it actually costs to farm this way. Killing this rule will put thousands of small farms across the country at further risk of failing.

What consumers want, and what should be enshrined in our market economy, is a choice. Consumers should be free to choose the product in accordance with their values, and pay for the associated cost of its production accordingly. Consumers expect to pay more for an organic tomato than a conventionally grown one because they know that it cost more to produce it. It’s the same with eggs. Some consumers are willing to pay more because they believe the USDA Organic seal means they are getting an egg produced without the use of pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics or animal cruelty. Insuring that this is in fact the case is vital to retaining the trust and integrity of our food system. It’s also vital to allowing real organic farmers to keep their farms. It is our hope that President Trump recognizes this for what it is, an attempt by a very concentrated and powerful lobby to protect their profits at the expense of thousands of small businesses, farms and everyday consumers.

If you are as incensed as we are by this blatant disregard for not only organic consumers and farmers, but also for the thoughtful process that led to the rule’s creation before it was cast aside by the new administration, then please contact the USDA or your representatives in Congress to let them know how you feel.

Good Feed makes for Good Eggs

You are what you eat, as they say.

We all know that a good diet is essential to good health. That’s one reason many of us eat eggs. And yet, too often, as people, we don’t always do a great job with our own nutrition, ill-advised temptations being abundant. At Pete and Gerry’s, our organic, Certified Humane, free range hens have it a little bit better. To begin with, their “treats” are finding insects in the grass. And when it comes to their main meals, they get the benefit of PhD nutritionists as their personal chefs, something few of us enjoy.

Les Morrison, of Morrison Custom Feeds in Barnet, Vermont, a Pete & Gerry’s feed supplier, puts it this way “people food is in the stone age compared to what the hens get for balanced nutrition.” Feed mixtures are developed with an eye to making sure that a hens’ every nutritional need is met in terms of nutrients, protein, sodium-balancing bi-carbonates, ground limestone for developing a strong egg shell, electrolytes and much more.

Contrast that to the giant factory farms that make most of the eggs sold today which use a “least cost formulation” for their feed. That means exactly what it sounds like ­— whatever is the cheapest way possible to give the hens enough calories to lay eggs that day. You can see and taste the result in the eggs.

There are between 30 and 35 separate organic ingredients in our feed mix. And the mixture is adjusted continuously, based on the weather (cold or hot), the flock’s age and point in their laying cycle, general health, and a range of other factors. That’s why another of our feed advisors, Heritage Poultry Management Services, employs two full-time PhD animal nutritionists on their staff.

There is a lot of science to the way we formulate our feed. But one aspect of science that you won’t find in any of our feed is pharmaceuticals ­– something you will find in just about all feed that goes to factory farms, which make up 90% of the eggs sold in the U.S. According to Morrison, that’s just putting a Band-Aid on a problem that won’t actually fix it. “The way to keep birds healthy, besides feeding them properly, is to make sure their living environment is clean and not overcrowded” he says. “Good egg farmers are in their barns every day. They can see problems before they happen, sometimes just by listening to the birds” (quiet hen houses can be an indication of a virus starting to spread through the flock).

That’s why we don’t treat our free range hens prophylactically with drugs that are only going to decrease their resistance and then wind up in the eggs. We treat them with care instead.

Morrison concludes, after admitting to a weakness for potato chips in his own diet, that if he were to die and come back as a hen, he would hope to be a Pete and Gerry’s hen.

Why Do Good Eggs Cost More?

At Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, we do understand the question. From the outside, one egg looks a lot like another. And when you regularly see eggs at the store for $2 dollars a dozen (and sometimes less) you begin to see this as the “real” cost of eggs. From there it’s natural to assume that anyone who charges more is just padding their profit.

But before we talk about why our free range organic eggs cost more, let’s first look at why their eggs cost less. Consider that a typical hen can lay almost one egg per day. But to feed and house her in a heated, ventilated barn for a year is not inexpensive. After an egg is laid, it must be collected, washed, inspected, and graded for sale. Finally, the eggs must be packaged and shipped to market. It’s a pretty labor-intensive business. When your great grandparents’ generation was selling eggs straight off the farm to neighbors or to local stores, the inflation-adjusted cost was way, way over $2 a dozen. In those days, people accepted that food had to be a significant part of their overall household budget because most people had first-hand knowledge of how difficult it was to produce that food.

The reason that commodity eggs can sell today for an almost laughably small amount of money (less than a bottle of water, less than a cup of coffee) is the result of giant agribusiness and the blind pursuit of “efficiency.” Efficiency sounds good, and it is good when balanced with other costs and considerations, but in this case, efficiency means putting hundreds of thousands of hens into a warehouse, stacked floor to ceiling with battery cages that cram six hens into a space the size of a microwave oven. The overcrowding, filth, disease and general misery of the animals is so extreme that it stands out even in the world of mass-produced animal agriculture. Their feed is a “least cost formulation” lacking essential nutrition, but that does usually include antibiotics to control the diseases that spread in the overcrowded barns. But, it is efficient! They can crank out millions of eggs and still make a small profit at $2 a carton.

We simply won’t do that. It’s bad for hens and bad for people. And thankfully, now that consumers are learning about these practices and speaking out, change is coming. “Cage Free,” which doesn’t quite mean what it sounds like (i.e. the birds are still confined in massive numbers, cannot go outside, etc.), will still be an improvement in terms of animal welfare. It is likely to come at a higher price on the shelf too. And, it will be money well spent for hens and consumers, despite its shortcomings.

Our farming practices are far better still. We are USDA Organic, Certified Humane Free Range, which means free access to ample pasture space except in very cold weather, ample space in the barn, no confinement whatsoever (“Cage Free” can’t say this, learn more here), roosting spaces, nesting boxes, high quality organic feed and much more. We do this on true small family farms that support real farm families and their rural communities. So, when all is said and done, you will get 12 humanely raised, organic, antibiotic free, protein-filled, nutritionally dense eggs for a few dollars. When you compare that value to your cable bill, your car insurance, or just about anything else at the grocery store – it starts to seem like a pretty good deal.

So the question we ask is not why Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs cost so much, but why do those other eggs cost so little?

Big Changes to Our Small Farm

As those of you who have read past posts on this blog know, our farm up here in the Upper Connecticut River Valley of New Hampshire was where it all started. Way, way back it was a dairy farm. Then my grandfather Les decided to try chickens, after he returned from World War II, because there were so many other dairy farms in the valley at that time. My father and mother converted the farm to Organic, Free Range back when barely anyone had ever heard of such a thing. They did this because they were being priced out of the egg market by giant agricultural factory farms that could vastly underprice anything they could do. In the process, they discovered the joy of farming in a humane, responsible way.

When I took over the family business, demand for our ethical Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs was growing very quickly and we were adding barns here on our property to meet it. It was then that I was struck by the fact that if we just kept adding more barns, pretty quickly, we would become just another giant egg producer. Maybe we would be a more ethical giant egg producer, but we would be a giant nonetheless. And that would mean pushing other small farms like we once were out of the way.

That’s when it hit me, why not support all the other small farms out there that were just like us when we started, but that don’t have the same opportunity from a sales and distribution standpoint as we do? Some 130 small family, partner farms later, Pete and Gerry’s is still growing by staying small and by supporting real families out there who still have a dream of farming responsibly while making a living.

So successful this has been, we’re now even managing to reduce the footprint of the home farm even more. At our peak, we had nine barns in use with over 100,000 hens on the property, all meeting the Certified Humane Free Range standard. If that sounds like a lot, it’s actually not that much when you consider that factory farm competitors routinely cram over 300,000 hens into a single barn and have millions on site. But it was still more than we wanted given our belief in a different type of farming model. In the past six months, by not repopulating barns whose flocks reached the natural end of their lifecycle, we are now down to just two barns and less than 40,000 hens.

We plan to always have Free Range hens on the home farm. We feel that the best way to be good stewards to our partner farms is to know exactly what their lives are like and what challenges they face. And it keeps one humble, standing in a pasture of hens every day, listening to what they have to say. Still, we’re very pleased that we’ve managed to meet the growing demand for our wonderful, free range, organic eggs by staying small ourselves and thereby benefiting other small farms and the countless communities they thrive in.

Journey of the Egg – From Farm to Table

How does an egg make it from one of our small family farms to your home?

At the Farm

The journey begins in a nesting box, inside the barn, where one of our hens lays her egg. She will typically lay one egg per day, usually in the morning hours. From there the egg will slowly roll down the inclined, padded surface of the nesting box to the conveyor belt that runs the length of the barn. It will usually sit motionless on the belt until about 11AM when the farmer turns on the belt and gets ready to pack eggs in the packing room. The conveyor delivers the egg, along with several thousand others from that morning, to the packing station. A packing machine gently loads the eggs from the conveyor into plastic trays. The farmer, and if they are lucky a family member or two, run the packing machine, pull out any cracked eggs, and carefully stack the trays of eggs onto a pallet. Each pallet contains 900 dozen eggs. The pallet is then rolled into the adjacent cold storage room that is kept at 45 degrees.

On the Road

Once a week, one of our fleet of “Rooster Cruiser” trucks will turn into the farm and roll up to the small loading dock next to the cold storage room. At that time, the week’s worth of eggs, somewhere between ten to twenty thousand dozen, depending on the farm, will be loaded onto the truck. The truck will make a few more stops at other farms in the area until it is full and then proceed to one of our two processing plants in Pennsylvania or New Hampshire.

In the Plant

At the plant, the egg will now be rolled into our “nest run” cold storage area. When we are ready to run the eggs from that farm, the egg trays are loaded into our egg washer where they first go through an Organic citrus-based solution. Brushes do a gentle scrub before they get a sanitizing rinse.

At this point, things get pretty technical as each individual egg is photographed and cataloged by the computer. The camera is looking for specs of dirt, cracks and other imperfections. It is also gauging the size of the egg so that down the line it will know to send them to the correct packing station for Large, Extra Large, Jumbo and so on. Each egg is also tapped lightly by a tuning fork at this stage to test for hairline cracks that the camera cannot see. Broken or otherwise problematic eggs are pulled from the line automatically. A little less than 1% of them are simply thrown out to become pig feed for other farms and other are sent to a “breakers” line where they are cracked into our liquid egg products. The intact eggs move up the line to the packaging station based on their size and are automatically placed into cartons, never being touched by human hands. From there they go into master cases and are put back onto a truck. See our video of this part of the journey.

To the Store

From here, the trail can get a little complicated. Sometimes, our trucks will deliver right to a grocery chain’s central warehouse and they will redistribute them to their individual stores. In other cases, we might deliver them to an independent distributor to haul for us. And in some cases, we might even deliver our eggs to a big factory farm where they are “cross docked” and loaded onto other trucks that do individual store delivery. That’s because we don’t operate a big enough fleet to drive to individual stores, nor would we have enough eggs of our own to deliver even if we did. So in those cases where a big caged egg company is also the sole egg distributor for a given location, we have to “ride along” with them. That’s why you can see our trucks backed up to these mega farms. It’s not because we’re picking up eggs there, it’s because we’re delivering them there! Not an ideal situation, but for us, the only way to get our eggs where they need to go.

On Your Table

The final leg of the journey is from the store’s back room out to the egg shelf, and then home to your kitchen table. The typical time from nest to table is about 25 days. That is well within what USDA recommends for fresh egg consumption and still leaves plenty of time for you to store in your refrigerator before eating. We print the “Best By” date right on our carton as to when we recommend you consume the eggs by. But don’t worry, eggs are very resilient to spoiling and it’s possible to eat them beyond that date and be fine. We don’t recommend that of course, but typically you only lose a little bit of freshness. A good test if you’re not sure of an egg’s freshness is to drop it into a bowl of water. If it sinks, it’s still fresh. If it floats, that means that the egg has had time to develop air pockets between the shell and the egg and it’s time to toss it.

Once your eggs are safely home from the store and in the fridge, it’s time to cook them up!  If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, here are some of our favorites.

Getting the Girls Outside – Our Outdoor Access Policy

About a decade ago, we made the decision to stop growing our home farm here in New Hampshire to meet the rising demand for our eggs and to instead partner with dozens of small, family farms that need a market for their organic, free range eggs. That was a great decision, for many, many reasons that I’ve touched on in this blog, but it is also considerably more complex than just building more barns on our property. These are independent farms, spread across the country. So it is vital that we have a great relationship with them to ensure that our high standards of quality and humane animal care are never compromised.

One of the ways we do that is by having an Outdoor Access Policy that each farmer agrees to adhere to. Why? Well here’s a little fact you may not know. It’s much safer and easier for a farmer, even conscientious ones like ours are, to keep their hens inside the barns. The flock represents their family’s livelihood, and without their flock, and the eggs they lay, that livelihood could disappear. So naturally, they want to protect it. And while the pasture is something hens clearly enjoy, it’s not as safe as being inside. Threats include predators like foxes and weasels, Avian Influenza from passing migratory foul, cold weather, and even rain and standing water. Hens are a bit like kids, they don’t always know what is good for them and can easily become sick by too much exposure to chilly, cold weather or rain. On top of all that, the farmers want them to learn to lay their eggs in the nesting boxes inside, otherwise, the labor to collect the eggs becomes untenable. So for all these reasons, it can be tempting to keep the girls inside. Most of our farmers enjoy seeing their hens in pasture every day so much, they don’t need to be encouraged to open up the doors, but to make absolutely sure that all our flocks are getting the same humane treatment, we have our policy.

Some of the stipulations include:

  • If the temperature is below 45 or above 93 degrees Fahrenheit, we recommend keeping the hens inside.
  • If there is rain, snow or standing water, we recommend keeping them inside until it clears.
  • During the short period when the hens are laying their first eggs, the farmers need to train them to lay in nests to ensure they do not lay eggs outside.
  • During high-risk periods where a disease like Avian Influenza is a known hazard for that area, in consultation with our team of experts, we may request that they keep the flock inside.
  • Lay times – most of our hens become accustomed to laying in the morning hours. In order to accommodate laying in nest boxes rather than pasture, they may keep the flock inside during the morning lay hours.

They must record their decisions and any exceptions to normal outdoor access due to the above conditions in log books that our auditors can review each week.

This is one of the many ways we are working to help restore human-scale agriculture back to a country with 320 million mouths to feed. It’s a balance between doing everything we can to help the farmers be successful and reduce their risk, while at the same time ensuring that we’re farming in a way that is moral and responsible.

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs not affected by egg recall!

Over 200 million eggs have been recalled recently by another company due to a concern over Salmonella stemming from a single Rose Acre Farms location in North Carolina.

None of our eggs are part of this recall as we would never produce eggs on a factory farm of that size or style. If you’re concerned about eggs you purchased recently, see what brands have been recalled.

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs are produced responsibly and safely on small family farms. Learn more about why our eggs are different.