Wednesday, 4 March 2009

A story about eggs

Once upon a time there was a young farmer and his wife just outside Darlington who decided to try organic egg farming. They bought the hens, invested in new huts and copious amounts of space for the hens to run around in. They fed them only the finest organic food with no artificial colours to make the yolk more yellow or routine use of antibiotics to keep the chickens laying longer.

The Soil Association approved their eggs and kept a close eye on them. Local shops stocked their eggs and all the customers said how lovely they were: the shells were strong, the yolk was yellow and the taste and freshness were unrivalled.

Then along came the Government and said, "If you're going to carry on producing organic eggs, you'll have to buy some new equipment to grade and stamp the eggs. You can't just sell them to people, you know."

But the young farmer didn't want to buy all this extra equipment and take on all the extra form-filling, record-keeping and administration: he just wanted to produce lovely organic eggs for local people to enjoy. So he spoke to a much larger company nearby who produced free-range and battery eggs because they already had all the equipment he was supposed to buy.

This larger company agreed to buy all his organic eggs and do all the grading and stamping and record-keeping and distribute the eggs to local shops. The problem was, this meant the price went up a lot.

Then came the recession and people stopped buying organic eggs and bought cheaper eggs instead. So the larger company was buying fewer and fewer of the young farmer's lovely organic eggs. Eventually the young farmer found that the fall in sales, the extra costs of the feed, the lower production rates of organic hens and the large amount of land needed to produce organic eggs meant he wasn't making a profit any more. So he stopped being an organic egg farmer.

And that's why, if you come in my shop today, we don't have local organic eggs on sale any more.


coldcomfort said...

This is just one more tiny story in the massive jigsaw that demonstrates the supreme domination of control freakery in our lives & that madness rules OK. All that is missing is for some nut to blame it all on the EU.

miketually said...

A sad story.

We get eggs from Miss Hoolie, Cluck Cluck and Bert, who live in our garden. Three huuuuge eggs a day, and lovely.

Are you still selling organic veg, Mike?

Mike Barker said...

I expect an update from Farmer Wallis on here soon.

The organic veg has gone too. They've stopped coming to the Farmers' Market too. They found Darlington people were quite resistant to paying a higher price for fresh organic veg, so now they concentrate on their organic box scheme, delivering straight to customers, mainly in towns like Northallerton.

Aeres said...

A pity...

We started buying our eggs directly from a farm on the outskirts of Darlington some time ago and found, contrary to popular belief, that they were actually cheaper than all but the cheapest eggs in the supermarket.

I guess that in pure economic terms that this is quite logical as there are no distribution costs but it still came as a pleasant surprise and made we wonder why more people don't do it.

miketually said...

I think we spend about £6 on a bag of food every couple of months. A thousand eggs a year for about £36 is about 4p an egg :)