“I personally won’t eat a factory-farm egg,” says Karen Small, owner of the Flying Fig restaurant in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood.
Small, one of a growing number of Cleveland restaurateurs committed to buying produce that supports sustainable agricultural practices, doesn’t need a research study to distinguish between farm- and factory-raised eggs. Pastured eggs not only taste different, she says, but also look different.
As it turns out, finding a reliable source of local, pastured eggs isn’t an easy task.
Trevor sources his eggs from farmers like Joel Kurtz of Wholesome Valley Farm in Wilmot and Jonathan Raber of Scenic Acres in Ashland. “During the summer, we’ll have customers who want to come gather their own eggs,” says Kurtz. “Everyone is so out of touch with this stuff, so it’s really fun for them.”
Back in Cleveland, Karen Small raises six Rhode Island Red laying hens in her backyard in the Tremont neighborhood. In 2009, the city approved urban farming legislation that allows residents to have a restricted number of livestock animals, including hens. Small now has enough eggs for herself and neighbors from the hens in her backyard barnyard.
“Years ago, while living in southern Ohio, I would pick up odd jobs and one was clearing out a chicken house, removing ones that were no longer laying eggs. They were stuffed four in a cage, and couldn’t walk. That really stuck with me. How can it be good for you or the chicken?”
Or as farmer Jonathan Raber says, “Chickens need air and sunshine.”