Nellie’s Free Range Eggs are not part of egg recall!
Nellie's Free Range Eggs

certified-humane

Nellie’s Eggs NOT Impacted by Egg Recall

This week 207 million eggs had to be recalled due to a Salmonella outbreak on a farm in North Carolina operated by Rose Acre Farms, the second largest egg producer in the country. While this recall does not affect Nellie’s, we were saddened by those impacted and amazed by its extent, given that it was from just one farm. You may not know this, but hens, on average, lay just under one egg per day. So to produce that many eggs in 90 days, you need about 2.5 million hens. That is like taking every single person that lives in the city of Chicago, and putting them on a single farm.

That approach to producing eggs is common because it’s efficient and inexpensive. But cheap eggs are very costly in other ways – consider the lives of the hens! About 9 out of 10 eggs sold in the U.S. come from eggs produced by hens that live in cages so small they can’t move around or flap their wings. If you think that’s a difficult environment in which to control disease, you’re right. The primary way they combat disease is by feeding the hens antibiotics in their food or water and accepting a high hen mortality rate.

At Nellie’s Free Range, we don’t pretend that we can control everything. What is different about us, however, is that our farms are human-scale (roughly 1-2% the size of these factory sized farms) and each one is owned and operated by a single family. The farmers care about their birds and they care about their product. And if anything was to happen on one of our farms, the number of eggs affected would be in the thousands, not in the hundreds of millions.

Thank you for supporting our Certified Humane, Free Range Farms. Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Iowa Votes to Keep Hens In Cages

For many years, animal welfare activists proposed legislation to curb what they believe to be the worst practices in farm animal care. They felt that some practices were so inhumane they should be illegal (just the way it’s illegal to mistreat a dog or a cat). At the top of the list for most of these efforts was the egg industry; 9 of 10 eggs still come from hens that live their entire lives in tiny cages, with each hen having the same amount of space as sheet of paper (so called “battery cages”) where they can’t stand up or spread their wings.

The animal rights groups pushed for reform laws and the factory farm lobby successfully fought back, insisting that the market should decide what eggs to buy and that regulation would interfere with free and fair competition.

Then something happened that the factory farms didn’t expect. Consumers did make a decision on what type of eggs they wanted, and it wasn’t their “cheap” eggs. It was for eggs produced by hens that have at least some degree of freedom. It began as a small trickle of announcements from a few progressive restaurants and retailers, who, at the request of their customers, were pledging to go 100% cage free by a future date. Then, momentum steadily built as more and more consumers demanded better. Finally, it became an avalanche of announcements. Just about every major retailer and restaurant had made their own pledge, including Walmart, Kroger, McDonalds, Starbucks, and dozens more. Many of these companies were by no means overly sympathetic to the animal rights arguments; they simply responded to what was a resounding customer consensus that they wanted more humane eggs.

Then, the factory farms had a sudden change of heart about the role of regulation – the opposite of the one they had held just a few months before. Why should the market decide what type of eggs a store should sell? Now, they want to force retailers to sell caged eggs. It would be like passing a law to say that stores must sell lead-based paint, even though consumers have said they don’t want it, because a big lead factory has a good lobbyist. But it’s working…

Iowa produces more factory-farmed eggs than any other state, 60 Million a year, which is 1 out of every 5 sold in the U.S. So it’s not that surprising that this is where the state legislature was persuaded to pass a law that forces retailers to carry caged eggs. They have wrapped the legislation up with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, better known as WIC, to provide a touch of political cover to this almost bizarre degree of marketplace interference. But the real intent is clear: to artificially maintain a market for inhumane caged eggs.

Philosophically, we here at Nellie’s Free Range believe in consumer choice and not regulation. But if there are going to be laws to forbid products from sale, then it seems reasonable that would apply to things that have either proven harmful to the planet, to people, or to society’s sense of propriety the way many inhumane animal practices do. What is harder to understand is regulation designed to compel a retailer to carry a product that is cruel to animals and that their consumers no longer want to buy!

Nellie’s Free Range Eggs was the first egg farm to become Certified Humane, and our free-range standard of welfare goes well beyond that of even “cage-free” operations (which are better than caged, but still not that great).

Please tell us what you think about the new Iowa legislation in the comments below.

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!

Egg Yolk Color

Egg Yolk Color and Richness

We frequently receive compliments about the dark, rich color of our egg yolks, especially when compared to the light, pale egg yolks from factory farms.

What causes a richer, darker egg yolk color?

The answer is, not surprisingly, the hen’s diet. Our Nellie’s Free Range hens receive a high-quality feed mixture of protein sources, minerals, and essential elements to help them thrive. But, contrary to what some people think, hens are not vegetarians. The feed they get at Nellie’s is vegetarian and contains no animal by-products (or antibiotics), but when they get to head outside every day, the world is their oyster, so to speak. They love to nibble on clover and whatever other tasty flora they can find in the pasture. They also love to eat worms and insects, which is another great source of protein for them.

The combination of our healthy feed mix and whatever they can forage for outside is what creates the deep, full egg yolk color you see.

Are darker egg yolks more nutritious?

You can’t judge on that basis alone, but more than likely, darker yolks like ours have been fed a richer, healthier diet.

We’re proud of the free range lives our hens lead and we love that their happiness can translate into your happiness with a better egg.

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.

Nellie’s Free Range Eggs are not part of egg recall!

Rose Acre Farms has recalled over 200 million eggs from a single farm in North Carolina whose eggs were shipped to 10 different states under a variety of brand names. Nellie’s Free Range Eggs are not affected and we do not partner with factory farms of this type or size.

If you’re concerned about eggs you purchased recently, see what brands have been recalled.

Nellie’s Free Range Eggs are produced by family farmers on small farms. Learn more about why Nellie’s eggs are different.