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Connecting With Your Food

Friday, June 17th, 2016 | George Sackett | market-report

Join us at the Market tomorrow, June 18th, 8:30am-12:30pm at the Wildwood Town Center, 221 Plaza Drive, Wildwood MO.

Local Chef menu for tomorrow will include- homemade coffeecake, coffee, cookies and chicken salad sandwiches in housemade pita pocket bread.

Live music by The Wise Brothers from 9am-12pm.

Let’s talk about eggs. I receive lots of questions in my everyday life about food labels. I overhear lots of conversations and listen to a lot of comments about food, about labels and many of those are specifically about eggs and meat. 

At the farmers market, most of the food doesn’t have a label. Fresh, local, just picked, real food doesn’t need a lot of description. A customer may ask the specific name of a variety of vegetable or about production and growing methods, but probably not much else.

There are not a lot of regulations regarding food labels. There is a lot of confusion and misnomers regarding terminolgy. I hope to clear some of this up. The terms and definitions are for eggs. But many of the terms can also be used for the meat industry.

I am hoping that by reading and understanding this information and knowing the terminology, you will connect with what the market vendors are offering. Perhaps you will better understand the pricing, the nutritional value of their products and the condition in which the laying hens (or the meat animals) are fed, housed and raised.

One problem is many packaging terms aren’t federally regulated. Athough some cartons carry designations, such as Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved, that come from third-party auditors that certify specific farming practices are used. Claims on food packaging have grown so complicated that even the most-discerning shoppers are sometimes befuddled.There is the broad category “organic,” but also “cage free,” “pasture-raised,” or “free-range.” Some contain “omega-3.” Hens are “vegetarian fed” or “grass fed.” Then there’s the color: Does it matter if eggs are brown or white?

ORGANIC: Eggs and meat certified as organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture come from uncaged birds and animals that have some outdoor access. Their feed is organically raised, and they can’t receive antibiotics.

CAGE-FREE: Means the chickens were uncaged and able to freely roam a barn or other facility, but they generally don’t have access to the outdoors.

FREE-RANGE: Indicates the hens and other meat animals are cage-free and have some access to the outdoors, but the type and duration of outdoor access is unclear. It may, for example, entail a screened porch.

ALL NATURAL: Can mean just about anything the egg or any food producer wants. The USDA considers all shell eggs natural and sets no standards for the hens’ living conditions and feed.

PASTURE-RAISED: Indicates the hens and other meat animaals are raised outdoors on a pasture where they can roam and forage. They are often given the “grass fed” label as well. But the USDA hasn’t developed a definition for pasture-raised products.

VEGETARIAN-FED: Means the hens received only vegetarian feed, so no animal byproducts were used. It also indicates the chickens—which naturally are omnivores—were kept indoors and unable to eat grubs, worms or other bugs.

OMEGA-3: Means eggs contain extra omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown to improve heart health. The hens that produce them are fed a diet rich in these acids, such as flax and fish oils.

WHITE/BROWN: Egg color is based on the breed of hen laying the egg and doesn’t affect quality or nutrition.

As the market manager, one of my many tasks is to provide the community with a unique and wide variety of quality vendors. I want the vendors to do well each week. I want them to sell out at 12:30pm! I want all of you to form relationships. I want the market to be a place of commerce and community. Over the next few weeks I will be writing about subjects that will educate and entertain you.

How do bees make honey? Why is honey different colors and have different flavors? What does organic mean? Why are those eggs more expensive?  We will also be sharing more recipes and easy ways to prep and enjoy fresh, seasonal, local produce.

Local, Fresh, Seasonal Produce and Locally Raised Meat This Week:
Cadet Creek
Rosy Buck Farm
Stuckmeyer Plants and Produce
Brushy Creek
Stuart Farm
Sunny Creek
Clover Meadows

Other Vendors Include:
Rosey Acres (rose bushes and more)
Goose Creek Soap (soap and bodycare)
Blooming with Joy (tea)
Adventures in Spice (herb and spice blends)
Cindy’s for the Birds ( bird baths and yard decor)
Jennifer Harman (handmade pottery)
Cellar Door Glassworks (hand blown glass)
Tiles by Terri
Gaelic Art