We hope 2011 will be a year of renewal for Soul Food Farm – Alexis and Eric are embarking on a year-long project to transform the farm into a center for people to connect with the food that they eat.
We want to not only raise delicious, healthy organic pastured chickens and eggs, we also want our customers and supporters to learn about where their food comes from and appreciate the connection to real good food through a yearlong series of farms tours, cooking classes, and farm-to-table dinners. In order to make this happen, we need to make a number of farm improvements (e.g. farm equipment, kitchen equipment, and possibly an herb garden) and to cover the costs of putting on classes and dinners.
To do so, we have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 by Wednesday, March 9. You can donate as little as $10 and we will be grateful, but those who donate more will be eligible for a variety of heartfelt thank-yous from the farm, such as a dozen eggs, tickets to a farm tour, etc. Visit the Kickstarter page to watch a video with Alexis and to donate.
We’re excited to announce the new Soul Food Farm Egg Share as another Community Supported Agriculture program.
The Soul Food Farm Egg Share (ES) program is separate from the Soul Food Farm CSA, although it too is a Community Supported Agriculture program. By paying $550 for 100 dozen eggs up front, you get a small price break: $5.50 per dozen, versus $6.50 per dozen through the regular CSA and on-farm pickups, and $8 for farmers market walk-up and Pop-Up General Store customers. Your advance payment allows the farm to raise some much-needed cash during the lower-income winter months in order to prepare for spring purchases.
Three local farms striving to improve access to healthier, wholesome food choices in Northern California will benefit from an artisan butchery demonstration and fundraising dinner October 30 at Soul Food Farm’s 55-acre pastured chicken and egg farm in Vacaville. Four Bay Area star chefs will join celebrity Dave the Butcher to donate their time and talents to “A Day of Artisan Butchery,” co-sponsored by Soul Food Farm, Slow Food Solano, and Avedanos Butcher Shop & Market. Proceeds from the event also will support the U.S. Butchers Guild, the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, and Slow Food Solano.
The event runs from 2 to 6 p.m. at 6046 Pleasants Valley Road, Vacaville. Tickets are $99 and are available at Brown Paper Tickets.
Using a steer donated by Agricola Grassfed Beef, “A Day of Artisan Butchery” will begin with a live butchery demonstration on one-half of the steer, followed by a meal
using the other half and prepared by chefs Paul Canales of Oliveto’s, David Tanis of Chez Panisse, J.W. Foster at the Fairmont, and Tia Harrison of Social, (also co owner of Avedano’s). Ingredients for the meal will be sourced by Soul Food Farm owner/farmer Alexis Koefoed and will feature organic olive oil donated by local purveyor Katz and Company.
Update: John Fink of the Whole Beast will also be cooking up a storm with Soul Food chickens!
Dinner for 200 will be served in the fields and gardens of Soul Food Farm. The afternoon’s entertainment will be provided by Brazilian band Aza Azu. Featured wines
and beers for the festivities will be poured by LaTrappe, Pacific Brewing Lab, and Winter Hawk Winery. Continue reading ‘Soul Food to host artisanal butchery demo and dinner to benefit area farms’ »
Spend a Soulful Afternoon at Soul Food Farm
& enjoy a Provençal Lunch by chef/artist Jerome Waag
of Chez Panisse and OPEN restaurant
September 12, 2010, 12-4 pm
• Spread a blanket in the shade.
• Bring a book, your paints, a guitar, or whatever gives you joy & rest.
• Walk about, linger, catch the lavender’s perfume.
• Sip tea with organic mint & lemons, or some lovely local wines.
• Talk about the state of pastured farming & food with Chef Wang and farmers Alexis & Eric Koefoed
• Let your kids mingle with the chicks and hunt for blue eggs.
This small, intimate gathering is limited to 30 adults; our CSA members got first dibs, and have snapped up several spots already.
$100 for adults; children under 7 free
You must purchase tickets through Brown Paper Tickets: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/124752
Michael Pollan was on CNN last night, talking to Sanjay Gupta about the salmonella outbreak. Gupta asked him whether it was worth it to pay more for your eggs.
Now, we know you all know the answer to that — but here’s what Berkeley resident (and shhh, Soul Food Farm egg fan) Pollan said:
“It depends on what you’re buying…I buy them whenever I can at the farmers market. And I know how those eggs were raised. they were raised on grass, those animals live outdoors, they’re in very small flocks — they’re in fact raised much as eggs were raised in the days before we had to worry about salmonella. Which isn’t by the way that long ago….The eggs I buy tend to cost about 50 cents apiece. I tend to think it’s worth it. Two eggs for a dollar makes a very nice meal….We all like cheap food. But when we’re spending billions to deal with a salmonella outbreak, it isn’t really as cheap as it seems.”
The massive Salmonella-caused egg recall by Wright County Egg, of Galt, Iowa, has now been upped to 380 million eggs, the New York Times reports. (We know you probably don’t have those eggs in your fridge, but in case someone you love might, here’s a handy guide to the affected brands and states.)
Jack DeCoster, the owner of Wright County Egg, is well-known to federal regulators, the Times reports: “In 1997, one of his companies agreed to pay a $2 million fine by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations in the workplace and worker housing. Officials said workers were forced to handle manure and dead chickens with their bare hands and to live in trailers infested with rats. The labor secretary … called Mr. DeCoster’s operation ‘an agricultural sweatshop.’”
I asked Alexis what she thought of the recall. Here’s what she wrote:
I read the news and thought immediately of the crowded conditions and awful cages used to house those chickens. Millions of chickens living locked up, forced to lay eggs. Like a sex shop or a sweat shop. Just abuse and horror, and if those chickens even think, probably wishing they could die …
Then I thought about the people who own those companies and work in those factories. Is it really possible to treat animals that way without a conscience? Is it really possible to not feel just a little uncomfortable about what is happening inside their poultry business? I think the answer is yes. Otherwise why would they keep the public from viewing them?
And then I thought what a shocking society we have evolved into that we tolerate this kind of factory farming. That we (the collective we) have bought into the idea that we need this “cheap” food, that this is the only way it can be done to feed large segments of our society. That it is efficient or cost-effective. Or that the factory system is too large to dismantle. When did so many of us become so callous and indifferent to animals, food, and ourselves?
Because we are part of the system of factory farming every time we buy this food, or don’t speak out against the insanity of it, or just quietly keep supporting shops that sell this type of food.
I thought of the eggs last. They are little drops of poison and always were, even before they were recalled.
I’ll leave you with a bit more food for thought. Check out the image below first:
Wright County Egg Company has five facilities and produces 2.3 million dozen eggs a week, reported USA Today.
That’s almost 4 million eggs per day, and at an egg per day per hen, the same number of miserable chickens — 800,000 packed into each facility. I used Google Earth to look up the address of Wright County Egg in Galt, Iowa, and grabbed this screen shot above, which shows three of the four visible complexes of chicken sheds and their nearby “manure lagoon.” Each shed in the complex measures about 200 meters long. You can imagine the horrors inside — the graphic at top, which uses images from FarmSanctuary.org, is probably not that far off.
In contrast, the 1,200 free-ranging feathered ladies of Soul Food Farm lay around 530 eggs every day, says Alexis, explaining that “chickens in a natural environment don’t always lay every day…. they roam and hide eggs. And some of our hens are ready to be retired and are done laying.” These hens have a little more than 7 acres to stretch their legs.
I am so proud and excited to announce that Soul Food Farm (along with our partners Rock Hill Ranch) has received Animal Welfare Approved certification – the first broiler chicken farm in California to do so, and only the second in the country.
The Animal Welfare Approved label was launched in 2006 to help consumers better know where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Only family farms that raise their animals according to the highest welfare standards, verified through annual audits, can be certified as AWA. Ranked as the “most stringent” of all third-party certifiers by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, the standards are the only animal care requirements in the country that specify that the animals be raised outdoors, on pasture or range. (See the complete poultry standards here.) Moreover, the Institute does not charge for its auditing and certification services, in order to remain unbiased.
To me, the name says it all. It begins with the animals’ welfare, unlike the vague “humanely raised,” which to me is a term that is slowly being eroded by marketers working for large food corporations. I really spent many months thinking about what kind of certification or stamp of approval I wanted to use for the farm after I dropped the certified organic label (for many reasons). I wondered what was out there to capture the tone of what I was working on, and AWA does that.
To get the certification has taken months. In fact, this August will mark a year since I first approached them and filled out the initial paperwork. After that AWA sent out inspector Franck Morrison (husband of Food Inc. chicken farmer Carole Morrison) to interview me and see for himself that the animals were well-cared for, had enough space indoors and out. Another inspector came out in June to visit the processing facility to see that it meet their standards.
This feels like a wonderful pat on the back after so much trial and error — I really made up a pastured poultry system just from reading a few old books and my own sense of what was right and wrong, and what is good animal-husbandry ethics.
For AWA to say that my model here at Soul Food Farm is the best way to care for poultry makes me just so proud.
This delicious and economical recipe comes to us from Mary Jo Thoresen, former pastry chef at Chez Panisse and the beloved restaurant JoJo in Piedmont. (You can now find her wares through the Pop-Up General Store; see the store’s Facebook page.) Mary Jo will be supplying the occasional recipe for interesting ways to use your Soul Food Farm chickens and eggs.
Mary Jo Thoresen
2 Soul Food Farm roasted-chicken carcasses
1 1/2 cups japanese short-grain rice
12 cups water
Soy sauce, sesame oil, minced ginger, scallion, cilantro, hot bean paste, and salt to taste
- Put the carcasses in a large pot, pour water in along with the rice, bring to a boil, then turn down very low for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
- Fish out the carcasses and place on a plate to cool down a bit, while the rice continues to cook.
- Pick off all the little meat bits you can find and put them back into the pot. Cook for another hour, stirring occasionally.
- Taste and add salt to your liking. Then fill your bowl and add soy, sesame oil, minced ginger, scallion, cilantro and hot bean paste.
The First Annual Farm Fresh Feast: May 8, 2010 [download flyer – PDF]
Benefiting Solano Land Trust
The Farm Fresh Feast celebrates the local, farm fresh bounty of Solano County and nearby areas. You’ll want to put this inaugural event on your calendar. It is a farm to table dinner featuring local, farm fresh ingredients, local wine, and entertainment. It will be an experience to remember!
San Francisco Executive Chef Lauren Kiino of Cane Rosso will prepare your gourmet, four-course meal using local ingredients. Enjoy live music from the popular Dirty Water Blues Band, carriage rides provided by Access Adventure, and hear from prominent local agriculture experts, including Paul Wenger, President of the California Farm Bureau Federation. There will be a raffle for some great prizes. Enjoy your outdoor dinner by candlelight, in a beautiful walnut orchard at Dixon Ridge Farms, near Winters, California. The farm is certified organic, and farm owner Russ Lester will give you a sneak peek into this 21st century green operation which generates much of its own power from solar and walnut shells. Don’t miss this chance to tour this unique operation. 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm. Directions available on our website.
Individual dinner seats: $95
Deadline for tickets is May 1st. Buy tickets at www.brownpapertickets.com/event/98512
Solano Land Trust, 1001 Texas Street, Suite C, Fairfield, CA 94533 • (707) 432-0150 • http://www.solanolandtrust.org
Come celebrate sustainable chicken farming with the
S O U L F O O D F A R M
C H I C K E N & E G G D I N N E R
a t C A M I N O
with special guest speaker
C A R O L E M O R I S O N
from the Academy Award Nominated Documentary
F O O D , I N C.
Monday, April 19th at 6pm
The 4-course family-style feast will feature Soul Food Farms pastured chickens and eggs
- Endive salad with chicken liver toast and boiled egg
- Chicken and green garlic broth with giblet-cabbage bundle
- Grilled chicken breast and wood-oven roasted leg with asparagus, spinach and snap peas
- Strawberries with mint crème anglaise
Dinner is $60 per person including wine, not including tax (9.75%) or gratuity (18%)
Buy tickets for this event at camino-chicken-egg.eventbrite.com
- Does stress in an animal change the nutrient value of the meat? (themomu.wordpress.com)