1. How are eggs in the US sanitized by the suppliers of supermarkets, vs the family farms? No matter their origin, all eggs sold in the US are required by law to have been washed in a chlorine solution. Tennessee Egg Law (Title 53, Chapter 2 of the Tennessee Code), set by the Food and Dairy Section of the Division of Regulatory Services, Tennessee Department of Agriculture requires that all eggs sold be washed in a bleach solution of 20-200 ppm concentration (about a tablespoon per gallon of water). In other words, the eggs you buy from your supermarket, your next door neighbor or farmer's market fall under these regulations.
2. Do you follow the regulations and wash your eggs in bleach? Yup. Just not at home. It's a stupid law and it actually makes eggs more prone to later contamination by destroying the natural protective covering the hen provides when she lays the egg. However, I don't have a choice when I go to markets. Those eggs are washed according to regulations. To be fair, it really is a teeny amount of bleach.
3. Why don't you wash in the required bleach solution at home? Several reasons, from practical to ideological. We rely on the tried and true method of keeping nest boxes clean and collecting eggs several times daily before they've had the chance to be soiled. Very few eggs are seriously soiled, and those eggs go either to the dogs or into the compost pile. Second, we are on a septic system and a daily barrage of bleach even in small quantities would eventually cause damage to the system. Our only alternative would be to dump it directly on the ground. NO WAY are we going to do that! Third, this bleaching practice, stupid yet required by the USDA for all who sell eggs, is coming under international fire for both its environmental and health risks and there is a lobby growing to stop the practice here. Russia has gone so far as to ban the import of American poultry products specifically due to our use of chlorine.
Concerning Egg Purchasing:
1. What do you charge per dozen? The Karma Farm (formerly Cluck-n-Neigh) was founded on the idea that every human being deserves fresh, locally produced foods provided by sustainable and compassionate farming methods regardless of the thickness of their wallets. When I say we will give our eggs away to anyone, I mean it. Yes, it helps tremendously when folks can chip in. As long as I get enough donations to support my serious chicken addiction I'm happy. I've given eggs by the dozens and received everything in return ranging from a grateful smile to $20 with an explanation of "I know my money's going to a good cause." All of these gifts are equally appreciated. All monetary gifts go directly to the care and maintenance of my happy birdies. We also have a paypal link on our main page for those who would like to chip in from afar.
2. How can I get eggs from The Karma Farm?
Sadly I am not longer able to be a vendor at farmer's markets. New rules dictate that we must have a 1 million dollar insurance policy, which would mean I would first have to formerly incorporate and lose on the first-year tax write off, not to mention it would be a serious blow to my financial bottom line and most likely cause me to lose money rather than break even. So, I make regular delieveries according to the following schedule:
- Wednesday: 1 pm- 2pm: Cordova Costco on Germantown Pkwy from 1:00-2:00
- 5:30-6:00: Whole Foods Market on Poplar Avenue from 5:30-6:00. I am available to meet clients in the parking lot between 5:30 and 6:00 pm.
If there's one thing I've learned by growing up in one of the poorest areas of the country (Appalachian East Tennessee), it's that many people who need help refuse to ask for it or feel shamed when it's offered. To avoid that pitfall, here's the procedure:
I accept donations in three ways. You can give me a sealed, unmarked envelope with your chosen donation inside (or an empty envelope if times are tough). I open all the envelopes at the same time at the end of the month. This means I won't know how much money you put in (if any). My shiny new PayPal link on the right hand side of the homepage is a quick way to send a donation. Finally, if you don't care one way or the other, just write me a check or hand me a greenback. I'm happy to take it, fold it and put it in my pocket without looking at it.
Concerning Animal Welfare:
1. Are you certified organic? Nope. I'm a permaculture farmer, which is to say I use organic and sustainable methods of food production. However, if/when an animal is sick or injured I will treat them with the necessary medications (including antibiotics). I will not waste time with a life threatening illness or infection. If one of my girls is in danger of death without immediate treatment, she gets it. One of my personal heroes is world renowned animal scientist, animal welfare activist, autism expert and author Temple Grandin. It was her writing that made me rethink organic certification and decide against it. She explains this better than I when she says:
"Failure to Treat Sick Animals in Organic or Natural Programs – Most people who raise livestock or poultry for organic or natural programs do a good job and if an organic method for treating a sick animal fails, they will use antibiotics. The organic programs in the U.S. and some other countries forbid all use of antibiotics. If a sick animal is treated with antibiotics it has to be removed from the organic program. The author has observed some cases where cattle had hair falling out due to lice or severe coughing and they were not treated so they could maintain their organic status. Successful organic medicine has a major emphasis on good management practices to prevent disease. One good way to prevent disease is to use breeds or genetic lines of animals that are more hardy and disease resistant. Research done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that certain genetic lines of lean, fast growing pigs were more susceptible to PRRS (Porcine Respiratory and Reproductive Syndrome) (Johnson et al., 2005). For an organic grass based dairy, New Zealand Holstein genetics may be a better choice than American Holsteins because they are more hardy. At one poorly run organic dairy in the U.S., 30% of the Holstein calves died due to the failure to given them antibiotics."
1. Do you give tours? We do not give tours of the farm for several reasons. Though we are not an operation large enough to fall under the federal regulations prohibiting members of the public from entering poultry facilities, we agree with the idea of biosecurity. The best way to prevent the spread of disease is to never have it in the first place. Additionally, this is a working farm and homestead, which is to say it's not set up for public visits any more than your home would be. Most importantly is the time factor. Farm life is extremely unpredictable (as anyone who has asked me to meet them somewhere at a specific time can tell you!), and with only two people and no staff, our time is extremely limited.