Good Stuff: Cider, organic eggs and Halloween candy

The Detroit News wrote an article about healthy Fall goodies including cranberry cider, organic eggs, and delicious Halloween treats. They mention that Michigan Meijer stores are now selling certified humane egg brands, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs and Nellie’s Free Range Eggs.

“Michigan Meijer stores are now carrying two kinds of certified humane egg brands on the shelves. Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs and Nellie’s Free Range Eggs are produced through a network of small family farms, adhering to guidelines that ensure the humane treatment of hens. Pete and Gerry’s is $5.99 per dozen and $3.99 for the Nellie’s eggs.”

Also featured in the article are Welch’s Fruit Snacks and Hot Ruby cranberry cider.

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Why We Are Free Range and Not Pastured Raised

                                                        -By Jesse Laflamme

At Pete & Gerry’s, we recognize that the egg aisle is a confusing place.  That’s why we hope to earn your trust so that instead of having to understand every industry term out there like cage free, free range, or pasture raised, you can simply reach for our package with confidence, because you know we’re doing the right thing for hens, farmers, and for your family. My family has been raising chickens for three decades.  We have the hard won expertise that comes from doing something for a long time and constantly improving on it as you go. That makes our company pretty unique in the egg industry. We hope that our customers discover that we care about our hens so much that if there was a better way to raise them —­ we’d be doing it.

For many decades, the egg aisle has been almost entirely caged eggs coming from hens living indescribable lives. Finally, after years of advocacy and the growing awareness of consumers about this barbaric form of agriculture, things are beginning to change. We expect that caged eggs will be a thing of the past within the next 10 years.  That’s great news for chickens, and for all of us. But, it also means that there will now be lots of less scrupulous companies trying to jump on the bandwagon. In most cases, this will be the former caged producers now producing “cage free” eggs, but essentially using the same industrial approach they used in the past. It will represent a marginal improvement in hen welfare, because they will finally be able to move around. But the facilities where they are raised will in no way represent what a consumer would consider to be a farm in terms of scale, crowding, cleanliness or transparency.

On the other side, there is also a group of companies competing to persuade customers that our Certified Humane Free Range standard, which you can read about here, is somehow not sufficient or adequately humane.

Outdoor Space Isn’t An Arms Race

The Certified Humane Free Range standard was developed by scientists and animal welfare experts. It calls for 2 sq. ft. of outdoor access on grass per hen. Now, this may not sound like much if you imagine a bunch of hens all occupying their own little 2’ X 2’ patch of grass. However, it’s important to note that this is just an average over a huge flock, and that not all of the hens use the pasture space at the same time. Not even close. Hens are actually a lot like people in this regard. Whether it’s cool outside, hot, or a delightful 72 degrees, a great many of them would simply prefer to be inside at any given moment. In fact, in a typical flock, there are hens that never want to leave the barn. It’s safe, comfortable, cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and there’s fresh water and feed. As a company, we don’t force hens to go outside. We give them ample ways to access the outdoors, and then let the girls decide. If you spend time watching them, you will see a steady stream of hens entering and exiting the barns. At any given point in time, the hens that are outside have far more than 2 sq. ft. apiece. And, they are very social birds, so while they don’t wish to be crammed into giant warehouses, or tiny cages, they do want to huddle into little groups and cliques to cluck about whatever is on their minds. So there is always more grass and dirt areas open than occupied.

Pasture Raised brands are advertising that they offer from 35 sq. ft. to 108 sq. ft. per hen and suggesting that 2 sq. ft. is insufficient. More is not better in this case. More is just more. And it costs the farmers more to own and maintain that extra space for no discernible purpose that we can see. Agricultural land is scarce and expensive, so forcing small farm families to operate and maintain an excess of it just to brag about how much square footage each hen gets seems insincere and gratuitous to us.

There is a category of very small farms that can make the larger space work economically. But those are typically mixed use, hobby-style, micro farms that exist in a completely separate economic climate, selling to farmers’ markets, CSAs, and to their local area at considerably higher prices. Mainstream grocery distribution requires a higher level of efficiency in order to even get on the shelf. So we support this other style of farm wholeheartedly, just as we support backyard chicken coops, but they are a very small piece of the larger change we seek.

Our bottom line at Pete & Gerry’s is first, what is right for the hens? We believe that we understand that better than anyone in the industry, and we follow the independently audited standard set by Humane Farm Animal Care for Free Range. Second, we want to do what is right for our farmers, and that means helping them raise hens humanely without undue costs. Third, by doing the latter, we can deliver great eggs to our consumers at a reasonable price

It is an exciting time to be in the business of producing humane, ethical, organic eggs. In my lifetime, I have not seen the industry change this dramatically or quickly. Over the next year, we believe many more consumers will begin to decide what they think a reasonable egg farm should look like. We believe that a small family farm producing to the Certified Humane Free Range standard is the best way to meet our country’s egg demands in a humane, sustainable way. We don’t believe that means there is no such thing as too much space for hens, and we’re pretty sure the hens don’t either. So we will continue to try to balance the needs of hens, our farmers, and our loyal customers as best we can.

Businesses Find Benefits in Going Green

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs was featured in an Entrepreneur article among other recognizable sustainable companies including Enviro-Log, eRecyclingCorps, and Mother Nature Network (MNN). The article gives perspective on how sustainable companies utilize their bottom lines.

“Today, Pete and Gerry’s, located in New Hampshire’s White Mountains, is a regional powerhouse, distributing “certified humane” organic eggs up and down the East Coast.”

“He also works to support family farms by partnering with 40 or so neighbors, some of whom switched to egg production after the success of Pete and Gerry’s.”

The green ideals of yesterday are now becoming the reality of today.

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Around the Coop: All about Eggs! on Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR

Find out all about Eggs! on Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR

EGGS! on WYPR

EGGS! on WYPR

When you go to the supermarket and head into the dairy aisle one thing stands out–EGGS! When it comes to choosing what kind of eggs you will buy the choice is no longer as simple as grabbing whichever pulp carton contains the best looking eggs (You know we’re all guilty of opening up the egg carton to make sure there aren’t any cracked eggs in the carton). The choices on the egg shelf range from conventional eggs (from hens raised in cages) to cage free eggs to organic eggs.

Cage Free Eggs, Certified Humane Eggs, Organic Eggs

Cage Free Eggs, Certified Humane Eggs, Organic Eggs

As the consumer it is important to be well-informed about the purchase that you are making. When I am shopping I go through a mental checklist every-time I make a purchase based on what is important to me and my family when it comes to health, taste, sustainability, humane treatment of animals, and knowing where my eggs come from (specifically family farms). These are all things that we find important when it comes to the production of our eggs on our own farm and on our family farms (a number which has grown to more than 50 at this point!)

Find out more about our cage free and organic eggs and what we do to support family farms in this interview on Midday with Dan Rodricks on WYPR by following this LINK.

Know your eggs and your chickens too!

The Farm Report
Jesse was recently invited back for another interview on ‘The Farm Report’ on Heritage Radio Network.  During this interview Jesse details more about the life on our organic egg farm to help educate our consumers to the benefits of choosing Organic and Certified Humane Eggs. 

Jesse will also answer some of the questions that you may have about what the barn environment where our hens reside is like (when they are not in the winter gardens or in pasture) such as the inclusion of scratch areas for the hens, as well as how much light the hens have each day.  He will also explore the life cycle of our chickens and also the different sizes of eggs and how eggs are graded. You will also learn more about the health benefits of organic eggs in your daily diet.

Please listen to find out more about Pete & Gerry’s Organic Eggs (and hens).  We are very proud of our farm  and want you to know more about what we do.

Waiting in line to lay an egg