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Farmers Market. Know Your Farmer. Know Your Food.

Friday, June 9th, 2017 | George Sackett | market-report

Wildwood Farmers Market on Main
Saturday, June 10, 2017
8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
16860 Main Street, Wildwood MO

I usually try to write the blog mid-week. I usually wait until I have some sort of inspiration, idea, recipe or story and then go at it. I am a “morning person” and usually get the writing done first thing, before my day starts, so to speak. Wednesday morning just as I was getting ready to write, my computer more or less shut down for a few hours. Arghhh. I finally got it finished that afternoon. Here you go-

It has been a very long morning for me! From vendor emails and texts to computer updates as I was getting ready to sit down and write the blog early, early this morning. But the wonderful emails, texts, stories and pictures that I received (on the Smart Phone) while waiting for the computer to update was such an extraordinary lesson and education on EGGS!

Last season I thought I did an extensive amount of research on eggs. WOW! So much more to learn. I hope that I never, ever stop learning. The farmers and producers I know have so much knowledge and most of them are more than happy to share it with me (and with you).

The egg questions usually come from market customers, other consumers and random people in my life. This week I had the egg inquisition from my mom. I think I get these questions from her every market season, but I don’t mind repeating the information and adding new information as I learn it myself.

My mom, like many others that like farm fresh eggs and make the attempt to buy at a farmers market or local farms think the freshest, best, tastiest eggs are the eggs with orange yolks. When my mom doesn’t get the eggs with orange yolks, she thinks the eggs don’t taste as good and are perhaps inferior to the ones with the darker yellow or just plain ole yellow yolks.

I have told my mom that I am positive that I am buying eggs that are many times less than 1 day old, from the farm and sometimes no more than 1 week old. I am sure the eggs that I buy are from chickens that are feasting on pasture and are getting grass, bugs, produce compost (food scraps) and only specially prepared, organic rations or supplements. I don’t get orange yolked eggs often. In the fall when chickens are getting pumpkin and squash they are indeed quite orange. But most often the eggs that I get have yolks that are quite yellow or yellow-orange. In addition to the yolks being darker, the whites, as well as the yolks, are also thick and rich.  The shells are usually harder and thicker too. The eggs are not watery, there are no air pockets and the viscosity and richness are very noticeable.

After doing some research on the internet and “asking Google” I emailed the market vendors and asked them for their input. This was my email.

I am trying to explain to customers about the yolk color and consistency (thickness, richness) of egg as well as the hardness of the shell.
Can you help please?
In my experience not all super fresh, pastured eggs are dark orange. Sometimes. Not always. They are richer and thicker in consistency and have harder shells.
I attribute the orange to what the chickens are eating. Bugs, grass, veggie scraps etc. Maybe a special feed supplement.
Please share with me your thoughts and experience.
Also, what do your chickens graze on and eat? Supplement feed?”
Thank you.

The responses I received were so amazing. I don’t like calling them “my vendors”, but I have such a close relationship with many of these folks, I can call them my friends and vendors at the markets that I am so fortunate to manage. The vendors that responded from the Wildwood Farmers Market were Serena from Stuart Farms and Holly with Rosy Buck Farm.

One quick piece of information that I did learn from reading on the internet and getting information from a vendor is that there is a popular, mainstream, conventional feed company puts marigold in their chicken feed. That could be a huge factor in the reason why some conventionally produced eggs are more orange. Interesting, isn’t it? The chickens “could” be caged up and never see daylight, but particular feeds would contribute to the orange yolks that folks find so attractive. Keep in mind I used “could”. More important or just as important as the color of the yolk is the shell health, the thickness, and richness of the yolk and white, the lack of air pockets and taste.

Chickens are omnivores. They eat are both vegetarian and meat eaters. If you see a label on a conventionally produced egg carton at a store and it says “chickens were fed vegetarian diet” that is not a great disclaimer or statement of a quality product. Chickens will eat grass, grains, bugs, lizards, small snakes as well as food scraps/compost.

I will continue the educational, informational egg details in future blogs. For now, be assured that the eggs that you are buying at the markets that I manage are from very happy, healthy chickens. If they are not swamped at market time, talk to the producer. If they are too busy, most of them will be happy to contact you via email or by a phone call. Just ask.

It’s definitely meat and eggs at the market this week.  And lots of seasonal produce. Although it is still a bit early for a complete list, vendors at the market on Saturday will include the following-

Rosy Buck Farm
Flower Hill Farm
Cadet Creek
Stuckmeyer Plants and Produce
Stuart Farm
Alpacas of Troy
Bob’s Honey
Great Harvest Bread
Two Men and a Garden
Wine Creek Farm
Sunny Creek Farm
Clover Meadows
Milkweed for Monarchs
Adventures in Spice
Stitches by Ann
Debbie Sinn
Maia with Stella Grace

I expect the list to grow throughout the day today…..

Produce today will include some blueberries, strawberries, rhubarb, lacinato kale, curly kale, hakurei turnips, a variety of radishes (including watermelon radishes), salad mix, carrots, a variety of squash, tomatoes, a variety of lettuces, spinach, red and golden beets, spring onions, cucumbers, broccoli, Swiss chard, asparagus and more! Rhonda of Cadet Creek told me she will be having a ZUCCHINI SALE (stock up for zucchini bread and zoodles).

Salt of the Earth will be performing at the market from 9am-12pm. The Little Sprouts Kid’s Market tent will be up and going from 9 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Kids can visit the tent, enjoy the activity and receive $2 in tokens to shop for their own local, seasonal produce.

See you at the Market!
The Sackett’s
(George and René