Nellie's Free Range Eggs

certified-humane

Where Does Nellie Live?

Well, of course our namesake Nellie, my pet hen from when I was 7 years old, has since gone up to Hen Heaven (nest in peace Nellie the hen). But all of her friends live across a wide swath of the U.S., on the small family farms that partner with us to produce Nellie’s Free Range Eggs.

Nellie’s Hens Range Far and Wide

Years ago, as the popularity of our special eggs grew and grew, we decided that we didn’t want to become the very thing that had nearly put us out of business – a giant egg farm. Instead, we found like-minded small farmers and farm families that just wanted to make a good living while working on their own independent farms. Furthermore, we wanted to help rural farm communities continue to be vibrant and viable.

As Nellie’s Free Range Eggs continued to grow, partner farms began to pop up all over the northeast, in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and Pennsylvania. As more grocery stores started to carry us further south and farther west, we began adding farms in those places too. Our farms now stretch as far west as Indiana and as far south as Virginia. To help our loyal customers see where our farms are located, we’ve created this interactive farm map on our web site. Please take a look!

Go West (and South), Nellie!

The new stores carrying our eggs have increased even faster than our farm partnerships can keep up with however. We now sell our eggs in all 50 states, from Maine to Florida, on over to California and Washington. We are thrilled to offer our remarkable free range eggs to customers across the country. But, we know that many of them would like to buy from a farm closer to them, or even in their own state. That’s because they want to support their own farm communities and to reduce the impact of shipping food long distances. As a Certified B Corp, we support that too, and we’re steadily adding farms to the west and to the south. (Note the little hen footprints on our farm map!)

Thoughtful Growth

While we already partner with over 50 farm families to produce our Certified Humane Free Range eggs, each new farm is added with care. It typically takes several years from the time we start a conversation with a prospective farmer to bringing in their first flock. That’s because it’s essential that we ensure they share our values around sustainable, humane farming. We also need to know that they will be smart and reliable farmers. Egg farming is not easy, and we are careful to make sure that anyone trying it for the first time fully understands what they are getting in to. We provide substantial support to them throughout the long process, on everything from getting a bank loan to learning what to do if a hen isn’t feeling well and needs extra attention.

We are very proud of our farm families and look forward to expanding even closer to the rest of our customers soon.

Where would you like to see a Nellie’s farm? Let us know in the comments below!

http://cagefree.summitlivestock.com/locations/lone-cactus/

What do “Cage Free” and Free Range Really Mean?

This photograph is from Summit Livestock Facilities. It is NOT a Nellie’s Free Range Farm. It is a new “Cage Free” (you heard that right) facility being built in Bouse, AZ, far from prying eyes. It is the epitome of the cynical, untruthful nature of factory farms trying to dupe consumers into buying more expensive eggs labeled “cage free.”

So, what do “Cage Free” and Free Range Really Mean? And are they regulated?

We get this question at Nellie’s Free Range Eggs a lot. And it’s no surprise. The egg aisle has more unique terms these days than Doritos has flavor varieties. Free range, cage free, pasture raised, GMO Free, Organic, Farm Fresh, All Natural, and the list goes on. Particularly, when it comes to humane standards like Cage Free and Free Range, it can be very hard to know the difference.

But, there is very significant difference between the Certified Humane Free Range standard that we use and “Cage Free” that you are seeing more and more of in the marketplace. (The quotations around Cage Free are there because, as you will see, it’s quite misleading).

Most people would reasonably assume Cage Free to mean “no cages.” But the term is not a regulated standard by the USDA or the FDA (Free Range is defined by the USDA). So egg producers are left to define it for themselves. And as you might expect, the gigantic factory farms that have always brought you conventional eggs, laid by hens imprisoned in tiny, floor-to-ceiling battery cages inside massive warehouse complexes, are now either converting these same factories to “Cage Free” or building new ones, as you can see in the photo above.

And what is going into all of these “Cage Free” egg factories? You guessed it – cages. Bigger, more complex cages than before, but cages nonetheless, with no doors to the outside. The “farm” depicted in the photo is expected to produce 1.5 million eggs per day. I’ll repeat that, 1.5 million per day!

There is no question that placing 10 giant buildings the size of aircraft hangers on a flat piece of earth in the middle of nowhere allows for some serious labor efficiency in terms of handling and processing eggs. But we don’t think consumers would consider it farming. At our small farm in New Hampshire, we deliberately stopped building new barns, becoming less efficient in the process, because we wanted instead to partner with other small farms around the country like our own.

Because we don’t want to be confused with the now misleading term Cage Free, at Nellie’s Free Range, we have adopted a Free Range standard certified by the respected Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) organization. Our floor style barns have no cages, period. There are doors every few feet, allowing one and all to come and go when the weather allows. We even have policies of our own for humane care that exceed those set by HFAC.

Please watch our video that helps explain the important difference between Certified Humane Free Range and Cage Free so you can be as informed as possible about the eggs you buy.