With two kidlets, a full time job, dust bunnies to vanquish and this blog thing that needs my attention every so often, I don’t get out much. And so I was schoolgirl-giddy when I was offered the chance to head to sunny Phoenix, Arizona to take part in the first ever Farm to Table Blogger Tour, presented by the good people at the American Egg Board as part of the the Good Egg Project. I’m sure you all remember the people who brought you the Incredible Edible Egg?
And so in early March, nine bloggers from around the country descended on Phoenix, Arizona, armed with cameras, laptops and a burning desire to spend a few precious days footloose and kid-free.
The cast of characters from left to right: Clint Hickman, Jeffrey Saad, Anne-Marie from This Mama Cooks!, Anitra from The Mama Zone, Laurie from Doublebugs, Shanda from The Parents with Style, Tonia from All America Mommy, Marla from Family Fresh Cooking, Kristina from MOMFormation, Ann from Healthy Tasty Chow, and in the egg chair is Thomas Schoaf, the Mayor of Litchfield Park, Arizona.
But wait, there’s more! Also attending the event was Jeffrey Saad, National Spokesperson for the American Egg Board, restaurateur, and the runner up on season 5 of The Next Food Network Star. He’s also handsome well-spoken, and makes running shoes look hot.
Let’s not forget the delightful Howard Helmer, Guinness world record holder as the world’s fastest omelet maker, American Egg Board spokesman for over 40 years, and expert charmer extraordinaire.
Last but not least, Clint Hickman, Bill Hickman, Sharman Hickman and matriarch Gertie Hickman, collectively known as Hickman’s Family Farms granted us the unique opportunity to see the inner workings of a large scale egg farm. Do you hear bells ringing? Is your memory jogged? What you may be recalling is the episode on Dirty Jobs which featured the Hickman’s Family Farms. Curious? Catch the full video here, just scroll down to see the clip.
As you can see, we got all gussied up for the occasion. Nothing says class like white paper lab coats and blue booties, baybee! At the center left is nutritionist Mary Lee Chin who not only kept us company at the farm but also gave us an eye-opening lecture on egg nutrition.
Did you know:
- Next to mother’s milk, eggs are one of the highest quality proteins available, providing us with all 9 essential amino acids.
- Eating a good breakfast has been shown to help kids get better grades and higher test scores.
- An adult can enjoy an egg a day without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.
- Eggs are an excellent source of choline, a nutrient essential to developing fetuses and infants.
For those of us living in the bigger cities, Clint Hickman was kind enough to show us what a chicken looks like with it’s feather’s still on and not shrink-wrapped.
Eggs-actly what I said.
Quick! Can you spot the bloggers? I’ll give you a hint: They are wearing hairnets, white coats, and have digital image recording devices permanently grafted to their fingers.
Anitra flips out! Actually we all flipped out. Everyone got to flip an egg, and most even ended up back in the pan.
What’s that? You want more? Well you’re in luck! Farm to Table Tour – The Complete Collection is available for your viewing pleasure on The Eclectic Cook’s Flickr Photostream
Oh! There is one more picture I need to show you.
Flowers. And Green grass. In early March. I can’t begin to describe how delightful it was to see flowers and green grass, especially after the long, cold and crappy winter we all just slogged our way through. This was a picture that inspired a recipe. Stay tuned over the next few days for: How to Make The Perfect Omelet – Omelet with Fresh Herbs, Goat Cheese and Edible Flowers. I threw in all of the tips and tricks that I learned from watching the best of the best, the omelet king, Howard Helmer. I have proof. The very last picture here features me, Howard and my omelet creation. See if you can guess who’s who. I’ll give you a hint: I’m not the one that’s yellow, covered in garnish, and sitting on a plate. And just in case you already know how to make the perfect omelet and aren’t too fond of goat cheese, did I mention the Giveaway?
I’d also like to send out a big heartfelt thank you and even a few squishy hugs to Erika and Serena, for finding me at the airport, for making us feel so welcome, and for reminding me (in case I got sunstroke and forgot) that I had to get back on a plane and home to my family.
Finally, I’d like to leave you with a few thoughts.
There is no dancing around the fact that large scale farming operations of all kinds have born the brunt of scrutiny and criticism over the past few decades for their industrial agricultural procedures, much of it justified, much of it because of practices stemming from the environmentally unfriendly mentality of an era long gone. But the hard truth is that our human population is continually growing and we need to find a way to feed us all. Most people realize that the industrial agricultural practices of past decades are unsustainable for farmers, consumers and for the planet, and a shift towards sustainable agriculture is not only necessary but inevitable. A definition of sustainable agriculture from Wikipedia:
“Sustainable agriculture integrates three main goals: environmental stewardship, farm profitability, and prosperous farming communities….The term sustainable agriculture means an integrated system of plant and animal production practices having a site-specific application that will, over the long term:
- Satisfy human food and fiber needs
- Enhance environmental quality and the natural resource base upon which the agricultural economy depends
- Make the most efficient use of nonrenewable resources and on-farm resources and integrate, where appropriate, natural biological cycles and controls
- Sustain the economic viability of farm operations
- Enhance the quality of life for farmers and society as a whole.”
As we exit the first decade of the 21st century, we find ourselves in a world with instant access to information, some good, some bad, and some very ugly. Some might argue that this information free-for-all is not in society’s best interest, but I would respond that we are entering an era of informed choices and personal responsibility that can only lead to better decisions. I give a big basketful of credit to Hickman’s Farms in their continuing efforts to embrace the concept of sustainability in their farming practices, to connect directly with their consumers, and to let us all take a look behind the scenes so that we can make those informed choices that are our personal responsibility to the future.
Whoever you are and whatever you think, we can all benefit from this little pearl of wisdom from the Good Egg Project:
Eat good, do good every day.