Eggs, Markets and Rain? Oh My!

In General Farm News on August 21, 2010 at 4:15 pm

This week was shocking to the egg industry as a whole, as more than a half billion eggs have been recalled as part of a nationwide investigation of a salmonella outbreak that expanded (again) yesterday to include a second huge farm in Iowa. Already the outbreak has sickened more than a thousand people and that number is expected to increase as the investigation continues.  To be fair, this recall dates back to May, but as the hours progress forward, Americans still consume about 220 million eggs a day.

So how does an egg get Salmonella?
The salmonella bacteria is not passed from hen to hen, but usually from rodent droppings to chickens. This strain of bacteria is found inside a chicken’s ovaries, and gets inside an egg that way.  So, basically, there are millions of infected chickens on big farms out there, who are laying contaminated eggs.

It can happen on big farms. It can happen on little farms.

Practically speaking, for humans, it is good to know that you CAN eat a contaminated egg, and you might be absolutely fine. If an egg containing Salmonella has been kept refrigerated and someone who uses good hygiene practices serves it to you immediately after proper cooking, you’ll simply have a nutritious meal. If the egg has been improperly handled, though, you might experience the foodborne illness called salmonellosis.  Salmonellosis is when you have those horrible side effects that we have all heard about on the news.  They are seldom fatal.

I am not poo-pooing the issue.  It is a serious problem and brings to light a management and handling weakness in the food chain for large scale producers at two farms in Iowa.  It rarely happens when you buy locally. I don’t know why. But it is just rare.

Speaking of buying locally, Farmers’ Market week is this coming week.  Get out there and support your local farmers.  Nationally, there was a sixteen percent growth in number of farmers markets over last year.  And if you live in, or are vacationing in Massachusetts this week, you have more than 221 markets from which to choose.  Usually, I would suggest purchasing some tender, flavorful and moist heritage breed pastured pork from our farm at one of the three markets that we attend, weekly, however, we will probably not be attending those markets this week. If you do want Wells Tavern Farm heritage breed pastured pork or sustainably raised, humane veal this week, I would ask that you make a phone call and we can make arrangements to drop off, or have you take a beautiful drive to Shelburne. (Please call and leave a message with the un-natural computer generated voice at 413. 625. 2797 if you would like some Maple Syrup Cured Hickory Smoked Bacon to go with your tomatoes, etc)

My non-farming life in radio is taking over for the week, and I will be commuting between Shelburne and Amherst daily.  It is back to farming after August 29th, and back to the markets! (Tuesday – Bernardston, Wednesday – Conway, and Thursday – Northfield — all from 4-7 p.m.)

The forecast says rain for tomorrow. “Rain is a Good Thing” (to quote country music singer Luke Bryan)
We need rain very badly.

Last week we attended a portion of the the 2010 Normande Field Day, which was hosted for the first time in the Eastern part of the country.  Usually it is held in the Wisconsin-area.   Normande cows are all about sustainability and added-value.  That is what we are all about as well, and we just purchased a Normande cow last week — so the irony of the alignment of the event and the acquisition made us drop some farm projects that should have been accomplished, in preference for the beautiful drive to Warwick, Massachusetts’ Chase Hill Farm.  At Chase Hill they create some unbelievable aged cheeses with the high quality milk that this breed of cow produces. In France, the Normande is associated with the production of such famous cheeses as Camembert, Pont-Lévêque and Livarot.

I can’t wait to get the chance to snap a picture of our Normande in a pasture, contentedly grazing.

In other great news, Dr. Schmidt stopped yesterday to do two pregnancy checks on our two milking Jerseys.  Both are due to calve between December and February.  And the best part of the news is that the sire (father) has got to be our White Galloway, as long as they are that far along in their nine month gestation.


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