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Joey
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Joey
verrry senior member
PostTue Nov 09, 2021 10:29 am 
The lead story in today’s New Yorker magazine is about the “largest-known fraud in the history of American organic agriculture”.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/11/15/the-great-organic-food-fraud

The lead bad guy is Randy Constant who died by suicide after pleading guilty and prior to beginning to serve his sentence.  Early on, Randy and Glen Borgerding (not accused of any wrongdoing) formed a company called Organic Land Management.  Also mentioned is my good friend Chris Barnier who did some bookkeeping and office management for them.  Years ago I met Glen on Chris’ farm and still have one of their caps.

Here are a few snips from the New Yorker story.

“The real difference, then, between a ton of organic soybeans and a ton of conventional soybeans is the story you can tell about them.”

“To run a fraudulent organic farm inside a federal prison suggests an unusual appetite for risk.”

“In 2016, when the entire organic-corn output of Missouri and Nebraska was about 2.4 million bushels, Constant sold 1.8 million bushels of supposedly organic corn. His corn output that year represented about seven per cent of the national organic crop. His soybean sales represented eight per cent.”  (emphasis added)

“Constant and four other men had already pleaded guilty in related cases. The scheme, prosecutors declared, had led to more than a hundred and forty-two million dollars in sales of fake organic grain between 2010 and 2017. There were no trials, and the scheme’s workings were sketched only in outline.”

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Sculpin
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Sculpin
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PostWed Nov 10, 2021 6:50 am 
It's a problem alright.

I bought some local "pastured" eggs at the Edmonds Farmers Market. When I got them home, I opened the package and all the eggs were perfectly cleaned and identical.  I broke them open and they were pale yellow with watery white, just like a package of industrial eggs from Safeway.

You can fake "pastured" with flax seed, but the profit margin is better if you just substitute industrial eggs I guess.  frown.gif

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Between every two pines is a doorway to the new world. - John Muir
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pianodirt
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PostWed Nov 10, 2021 10:42 am 
Sculpin wrote:
I bought some local "pastured" eggs at the Edmonds Farmers Market. When I got them home, I opened the package and all the eggs were perfectly cleaned and identical.  I broke them open and they were pale yellow with watery white, just like a package of industrial eggs from Safeway.

By the way, I'm pretty sure it's illegal to sell unwashed eggs at farmer's markets. Maybe back in the 80's they could get away with it, but probably not today as in the USA, unwashed eggs are illegal to sell. Personally, I want the eggs to be unwashed, to preserve their natural protection against infection as well as show me that the chicken who laid it was healthy ( egg not covered in poo).

I've raised chickens, the pastured way. The yolk color varies with the seasons. In the spring, you get more of that darker yolk. In the drier parts of summer (at least in E. WA), the color diminishes considerably, unless you bother to water some pasture for them. On the West side of the state, getting green pasture shouldn't be much of a problem in summer, unless you overgraze it. Too many chickens on too small of an area and they will eat and dig it all up until there's nothing left but dirt and then you have to replant the field and keep them off it until it recovers (at least a few months, ideally a year). And come winter-time, if there's much of any snow on the ground, they won't be foraging for anything and their yolks will become more pale (unless the feed is fortified with something like marigold leaves). Even if there's not snow on the ground, the pasture gets more brown and grows much more slowly, so it can't be grazed very hard at all.

I tracked the expenses for raising our own organic pastured eggs...it ranged from $8 to $12 per dozen eggs. We only had a couple dozen chickens and we didn't sell any (we gave extras as gifts), but it shed some light on the expense involved in raising organic pastured eggs on a small scale. I tried mixing my own feed to cut the cost down, but the problem is keeping it fresh, which is important. Unless you crack the grains, they don't get as much nutrition out of them (expensive organic grains go to waste as poo, although it composts into good fertilizer), but once cracked, they have a limited shelf-life (1-3 months, depending on who you talk to), less so if you don't have cool, dry and dark storage. Anyways, it wasn't worth it $$ to mix my own feed for such a small flock. For 100 birds it would have been worth it, but that's a lot of chickens! Then there was fermenting the feed...a story for another day.

Also, "pretty colored eggs"...the pinks, greens and blues and speckled...those breeds of chickens tend to be slower egg producers than many brown egg layers. Unless you get specialized commercial breeds of chickens (usually only bigger farms go for these), even brown egg layers don't always lay an egg every day. So expect if you get those colors, they're probably cutting corners elsewhere in terms of nutrition, unless they're simply not into it for a business to make money. Many of the places with "organic eggs for sale" that are selling for $5/dozen are probably losing money and simply helping support their chicken habit, lol. Come winter time, unless you blast them with artificial lighting so they get at least 14-16 hours a day of light, most chickens stop laying for the winter. It's considered "hard" on the birds to do this to them, as it's not natural. Which is already on top of their unnatural genetics...their ancestors didn't lay eggs every day or so, but rather a clutch of them about once a year...like most wild birds do. So if you don't force them to lay in winter, you gotta keep feeding them...and they eat a LOT more in winter to stay warm...driving the cost up.

I'm not raising chickens at the moment and sometimes I can get them locally, but otherwise I buy from the store. The Wilcox Farms (I think they're based out of Yelm) brand of organic eggs are the best commercial eggs, at the best price, that I've ever seen. It's about $4.50 for a dozen here. They put cute little cards in the box, showcasing their chickens and their lives and the eggs seem to back up their claims. They don't market them as "pastured" (at the marked-up price), but these chickens clearly aren't confined to a giant hen house with just a few tiny doors for "outdoor access".

Anyways, not saying that you didn't get swindled at the farmer's market, but these are some good reasons why you may not have gotten what you expected.

zimmertr
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