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An EGG-Citing Trip to HBF

Handsome Brook Farm

Sara TaneBrooklyn, USA
Food editor @thefeedfeed
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An EGG-citing Trip to Handsome Brook Farms

 

 
Article by: Sara Tane
Photography by: Mark Weinberg
 

Whether you prefer to take your eggs sunny side up, over easy, poached, hard-boiled, scrambled or soft-boiled, we can all agree that there’s nothing better than a tasty, wholesome egg. If you love eggs like we do, then you probably know that not all eggs are created equally. This is exactly why we wanted to learn more about how the happy hens at Handsome Brook Farm are laying pasture-raised, organic eggs. We packed our bags, headed south to check out Nashville, Tennessee and visited a few nearby Handsome Brook Farm farms in Kentucky to see where the magic happens!

The adventure started with a cozy welcome dinner at Lockeland Table where the group got to meet and mingle over a hearty meal (with plenty of Handsome Brook Farm Eggs, duh!). From egg-topped, wood-fired pizzas, to crab quiches, to a squash carbonara, there were so many (at least a dozen) reasons to get really egg-cited about the rest of the trip! We washed down the meal with a silky egg custard pie and headed back to our rooms at The Dream Hotel in Nashville to rest up for a big day at the farms.

After we all fueled up at the hotel, we hopped on a bus and hit the road for Auburn, Kentucky for our first stop at Schlabach Farm. Once we arrived at the farm, we met Jeremy Schlabach and his brother Justin, who were so kind to show us around their impressive operation. We slid into our (very trendy, if I do say so myself) biosecurity suits and hairnets, and they opened the gates to the chicken farm! The first thing any observer will notice about these chickens is how happy, healthy and free they are. They’re not crowded around each other or bound to tight, uncomfortable cages--rather, they’re free to explore the farm as they wish. It was a hot day, so they mostly stuck to the shade. Smart hens!

Seeing the chickens roam freely is a good time to go over all those labels that you might see on egg cartons when you’re at the grocery store. Don’t let the terms “cage free” and “free range” fool you. What the former term means is that there may not be cages, but there is a large, competitive barn that houses more than 300,000 birds. Anybody who has ever lived with more than one roommate can understand that this is not ideal. The latter term means that each hen has as little as 2 square feet, and grass isn’t even a guarantee. Anybody who has ever lived in a tiny New York City apartment (with loud neighbors and a mean landlord, etc, etc) can also understand that this is not the best life, either.

So then what’s the difference between those labels, and how does Handsome Brook Farm handle things? Handsome Brook Farm has 75 farms across 10 states and all the hens are pasture-raised, which means there is 108+ square feet of pasture per hen, thus resulting in a stress-free, non-competitive environment. Anybody that has ever moved out of a bad living situation probably knows the difference that this can make! Life is GOOD! The bottom line is that happy hens lay tasty eggs. Simple as that! 

Living situations aside, the feed that the hens are fed and the way that they are treated is just as important. All of their feed is USDA Organic, which means there are no GMOs or toxic chemicals that are added to their diets. Let’s face it - if the hens are consuming low-quality feed, then this is bound to affect the quality of the eggs that they’re laying. You are what you eat!

Once we all got some quality time with the happy hens at the Schlabach Farm (yes, there was a lot of chicken cradling among the group!) we got back on the bus to head to our next stop, the Jantzi Farm, in Crofton, Kentucky. We shuffled off the bus only to be greeted by the most stunning farm-to-table (...literally) lunch in the field. Chef Megan Haley of Happy Belly Nashville had the tastiest, egg-centric meal prepared for us. Seriously, it was no yolk!! From a creamy baked ricotta dip to a prosciutto frittata and a blackberry beet cobbler with pistachio crisp and lemon curd, this meal was eggsactly what we needed after an exciting morning!

After lunch, we all got to check out the Jantzi farm. Part of the magic of Handsome Brook Farm eggs is that the various farms across the country are all different in their own unique ways. The farmers and their hens always come first, which means that no two farms are exactly the same. This unique farming model creates a farmers’ market quality product for the consumer. You can see and taste the difference - trust us. Everybody wins!
As the post-lunch food comas started to hit, the group got back on the bus to ride back to the hotel in Nashville. From seeing and holding the hens to speaking with the farmers to eating the eggs at lunch, there were so many amazing moments during our time down south. Next time we’re in the refrigerator aisle at the grocery store contemplating which carton of eggs to buy, it’s going to be a no-brainer decision. Always pasture raised, always organic, and always humane. It doesn’t matter how you cook ‘em, the best of the best is always Handsome Brook Farm.
 

 
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