Thursday, August 19, 2010

Bad Timing

By now everybody has heard about the massive egg recall due to a salmonella outbreak affecting 380 million eggs.  Unfortunately for the West Valley City council they recently decided that they wouldn't vote on a proposal that would allow residents to keep backyard "urban" chickens.  Of course this news is horrible timing for the city council.  Hopefully residents of WVC will use this recall as leverage to get the city council to reconsider.  A few backyard chickens can be a fun hobby for families who might otherwise not have the chance to be involved in farming even if it is on a small scale.  Chickens offer a natural way to keep insects down thereby reducing/eliminating the need for harmful pesticides.  They earn their keep with delicious, nutritious eggs.

In some of the documentaries like Food Inc and Fresh, Michael Pollan explains how cheap food isn't really cheap.  That somewhere a price is paid.  This recall and all the others we have seen this year are good examples of the price that is paid.  I haven't bought eggs from the store in years but I would imagine that they are probably priced around $1.50-$2.00/dozen.  Most local farms sell eggs for $3.00/dozen.  Why the increased cost?  Scales of economy obviously come into play here as does the use of government subsidized grain.  Most small producers buy local unsubsidized grain which costs more than the grain the big CAFO operations are buying.  Naturally the costs are going to be a little higher.  For those who raise their own eggs or buy fresh local eggs, they can attest to the enormous flavor difference and as well as quality difference.  One of the contributing factors to these outbreaks is the routine use of antibiotics which help build superbugs.  I am sure none of this information is new to readers of this blog.  Aside from the increased nutritional value and resulting increased health to the consumer, consider the cost difference. $1 to $1.50 savings every week or two.

Now consider the cost of getting sick with salmonella.  Visit to the doctor, usually an emergency visit, missed work, prescriptions, etc... not to mention the risk of further illness with a compromised immune system.  The bottom line, is that eating fresh and local, is cheaper in the long run.  Not to mention you will likely enjoy a higher quality of life, that nutritious food offers.

Your body is worth it and you will enjoy the food more as it tastes much better.  Consider all the costs next time you consider buying from factory produced food.   


Rich said...

"...Most small producers buy local unsubsidized grain which costs more than the grain the big CAFO operations are buying..."

Why would you assume that locally grown grain would be unsubsidized?

Corn, wheat, soybeans, sorghum, or oats grown in Utah is as eligible for farm payments as grain grown anywhere else in the country and I am pretty sure that organic grain is still eligible for farm programs and payments.

Christiansen's Hog Heaven said...


This isn't an assumption as much as an observation. In working wih other small family farms, we have found that there are quite a few farms who are committed to buying unsubsidized grains. The way this is done is by working directly with the farms who are growing the grain. The vast majority of subsidies are handed out in the Midwest. Of course this also because most of the country's corn and soy are grown in this region.

I believe you are correct that organic grains are eligible for subsidies. However the subsidies are given to farms who sell grain below market value. Since most farms are able to fetch a premium for organic grain, they wouldn't qualify for the subsidy. However, I didn't mention anything about this in my post. Not sure where you are going with that.

Christiansen's Hog Heaven said...

In giving this more thought, I should have stated, "many small farms we have encountered buy local, unsubsidized grain..." My point with this comment was to highlight that because they are local, we are able to ensure we buy grain raised to our standards. This obviously includes buying grain at the true market value which helps promote true capitalism, a principle we are passionate about.

Rose said...

It would take our small farm over 12,000 YEARS to produce all the eggs that were recalled by 2 farms if I did my math correctly and if the hens could keep up that long.

Kathleen King said...

I am so saddened at the state of how our country has resorted to raising food of all kinds. The poor hens that have had to live deplorable, inhumane, filthy conditions are having their eggs recalled and I am sure they will also have to be destroyed because the salmonella in this case came from the chickens' ovaries. I am so grateful to local farmers like Holly and Christian who raise ethically treated animals on a small scale. I buy and support local and strictly organic. I will not cast a vote for the above mentioned horrible conditions and treatment of animals. Nor will I support genetically modified produce. For another local business in Salt Lake to find organic seeds, produce etc., try Traces. About 1400 south and 1100 east in Salt Lake City.

Julie said...

We have a small flock of 10 backyard chickens here in Salt Lake, any recommendations on where to purchase feed?

Christiansen's Hog Heaven said...


Please contact me directly and I will refer you to my neighbor who mixes my feed. I see and buy everything that goes into the mix and is therefore the only source that I can trust 100%.