Bacon & Eggs
When you stand in front of the egg section at the supermarket do you reach for “free-range” or caged eggs. Those labels are now prominently displayed on the egg carton. There’s also a price differential. Unfortunately, there’s also the fine print – and not enough price differential related to that. It also means that a whole lot of egg producers are getting a “free-ride” by saying that they are free-range compared to the truly free to range birds. At Demand Farm we source our eggs from pasture-raised chicken farmers. The practice of these farmers is to run a stocking density of between 300-400 birds per hectare. The birds roost at night, and are safe from predators and scratch around the paddock during the day. These are labeled in Australia as “free-range”. Other producers however can have a stocking density of 10,000 birds per hectare great and still call their eggs free-range. These farming practices are however not even close to being the same.
Interestingly, while we are generally as consumers choosing ethical farming practices over price more and more with regard to eggs, we are not applying the same level of discernment to it’s famous breakfast companion – the bacon. Take for example that vast mountain of bacon in the deli section of the supermarket. Look closely next time at country of origin percentage. By law in Australia grocers need to display % of country of origin. So how on earth can you buy bacon that is only say 15% Australian? That’s what I saw not too long ago at my local large chain supermarket. Easy, the pork is imported (comes frozen from a factory farm in the Northern Hemisphere) and the water and salt are from down under.
I had the privilege of visiting Jonai Farms last year and made a short film called “A conversation with Tammi”. Tammi Jonas is the co-custodian of the farm and she shared with me her journey and philosophy of farming. Watch the film for free here and hear her take on bacon and eggs. She also has a twenty year waiting list to get onto her subscription pork program. So lots of people (me included) believe she is doing the right thing, by the land, the livestock and those who depend on her farm for their livelihoods.
Over in the West we are equally impressed with Chestnut Brae farm and love the virtuous circle that they have created between their pigs and their chestnut trees. This farming practice emulates the culinarily famous Iberian chestnut ham production in Spain.
So when we can get a small allocation of bacon from Chestnut Brae (they also sell out) we are pleased to pair it with true free to range eggs. Sure, it’s way more expensive that the product sitting in the deli section of the supermarket, but in this case you do get what you pay for. And in the words of Tammi Jonas – “eat better meat, less”.