How Big Food Wants the FDA to Define “Healthy”

A recent article published by vitals.lifehacker.com explains how any food companies find the FDA’s definition of “healthy” to be out dated and are pushing for them to redefine what healthy really means, which is good news for the egg industry.

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs: “As the owner [of] Pete & Gerry’s Organics LLC, a Certified Humane, free-range, network of small family farms, it’s not often that I see eye to eye with the [United Egg Producers], as we disagree on farming practices. Where we do agree is that eggs are a very healthy food.”

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The 7 Best Clean Dairy and Dairy-Free Products

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs was named in one of the 7 Best Clean Dairy and Dairy-Free Products by cleaneatingmag.com.

“These top-quality, grade-A eggs come from free-range, certified-humane hens fed with 100% organic feed. $6, peteandgerrys.com for where to buy.”

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Organic’s New Animal Welfare Standards Are In Jeopardy

A recent article on forbes.com explains that the new organic welfare standards my be in jeopardy as the USDA announced important amendments to its animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry.

“Most companies operating under the USDA organic logo are also in favour of these new standards. Perdue Farms, the largest broiler chicken producer in America, supports the new standards as they plan to expand their organic business in the coming years. Pete & Gerry’s, the largest organic egg producer in the US, is already in compliance with the new rules.”

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Pete and Gerry’s Unveils Hard-Boiled Egg Pouches

In an article published by groceryheadquarters.com, Lindsey Wojcik discusses Pete and Gerry’s Hard-Boiled Organic Eggs that are now offered in a resealable, portable pouch which are great for healthy snacking.

Pete and Gerry’s Organic eggs are available at more than 9,600 retail locations, coast to coast. The egg producer has Certified B-Corporation status, and the company’s Certified Humane, Free Range eggs have grown as consumer demand for more ethically sourced eggs has driven the category, officials add. “

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5 Lessons For Building A Sustainable Company From The Chief Executive Farmer Of Pete & Gerry’s

Kate Harrison, Contributor to Forbes Magazine, and Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs CEO, Jesse LaFlamme, discuss building a successful company.

“Jesse LaFlamme returned to his family’s farm after graduating from Bates College in 2000, helping accelerate changes that would ultimately save the farm from going under. Today, Pete & Gerry’s currently supports a network of 125+ small family farms.”

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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.

Actually Natural

One sees the term “all natural” all of the time. It is probably the most common two words in the grocery store at this point. That’s because manufacturers know that consumers are trying to find less processed, higher quality products that might have actually come from a farm and not a factory. And All Natural kind of says it all.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean much. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything, because it’s an unregulated term. It probably should mean something. To call potato chips, hot dogs, and things with ingredient statements that are longer than an iTunes license agreement “all natural” seems a bit disingenuous, if not downright untruthful. But the Food and Drug Administration allows it. All it really means is that it’s edible (theoretically). And that’s too bad, because consumers understandably assume that it means much more than that.

(For a humorous take on the use of the claim All Natural, see these hilarious videos by the Organic Trade Association).

In fact, the term sounds so trustworthy, studies show that a higher percentage of consumers trust the All Natural claim to mean no pesticides, no GMOs, no artificial hormones, etc. than those that trust the USDA Organic claim to mean those same things. Yet, that’s exactly what the certified USDA Organic seal guarantees.

In the egg aisle, that means that anyone can say All Natural, because well, it’s an egg, and it came from a chicken. But it doesn’t matter how that chicken was treated, what they were fed, or whether they needed antibiotics in their feed to ward off diseases from the hundreds of thousands of other birds confined to their “barn.” It’s still All Natural.

Hope may be on the way however, as the FDA, in response to public pressure, is reconsidering the definition of the term across all food categories. If you are interesting in commenting, you can go to this web site. The deadline for comments is May 10, 2016.

In the mean time, if you really want eggs from a farm, don’t be fooled by All Natural. Pete & Gerry’s Organic is actually natural.

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.

Eat a Rainbow

Did you eat a rainbow today?

This year the USDA proposed changes to the school lunch guidelines in our public schools.  The idea was to cut back on salt and starchy foods (goodbye french fries or tater tots with every meal) and to lower salt intake and overall caloric consumption.  Unfortunately these proposals were recently thrown out in favor of continuing to count pizza as the equivalent of one serving of vegetables due to the tomato paste smeared on the dough underneath a greasy layer of cheese.  Also, the definition of “whole -grain” is still up for consideration which means forget about the possibility of at least serving pizza with a whole wheat crust.

Do you want your child to have the option of eating pizza every day at school?

In order to combat the limits placed on school lunch programs by the the guidelines of the USDA, we need to continue to look for creative ways to bring a “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables into our schools. We need to try to provide or at least introduce our children to vegetables such as broccoli, eggplant, and kale and fruits such as plums, pomegranates, and raspberries in the hopes that the future youth will fight for change in our food systems as they grow older.  This is also another argument for petitioning your school to start a garden program or to connect with local farms and the Farm to School Network to bring agents of change into our school lunchrooms.  We need to fight for the health of our future.

Green Apple Earth