What I like to look for in a farmer is transparency.
Being the food snob I am I like to know exactly what is going into the food I purchase, especially when it comes to eggs.
That's why I was more than happy to meet German-born Herman Grauer, the owner and founder of Nature's Farm, as he took me into his egg laying operation south east of Steinbach this week.
One of the 7000 chickens at Nature's Farm (Mike Green)
"I just want you to notice how comfortable the environment evidently is for the birds," said Grauer as he revealed 7000 organically raised hens. "You have never been in this facility and the hens approach you freely -- they didn't run away from you...They are definitely at ease with where they are."
I had to agree. While I was already impressed that an egg farmer would actually allow a member of the media to check out his facilities, Grauer was more than happy to point out the conditions in which his hens lived.
"This is called a Swiss design aviary environment," he Grauer. "Swiss universities, along with the Swiss farmers developed this system that really optimizes animal welfare for these hens. And we are very proud that we went to the length to have this."
In the aviary there are no cages, and the hens fly and walk around amongst each other with healthy looking feathers and beaks, while in the warmer months they are free to go outside.
"13 years ago now, we were the first farm in North America to have this environment for its hens," said Grauer. "And even to date we are one of a handful in Canada that has it."
Grauer's organic hens, which produce his Nature's Farms Omega-3 Organic Eggs, are raised on diet containing quality fatty acids and ingredients including alfalfa and marigold flowers. It costs more to do, and in the end you'll pay more for them at the store, but the results are a nutritionally dense egg and a product that you can take comfort in knowing was ethically produced.
"That pride to do something that's certified organic, to be part of that movement goes very deep," said Grauer. "Because I think it is an essential part for humanity to arrive at a better way to produce food. Not that we have all the answers today, in how to do it. But definitely I think we are able to make differences in places and in ways that we need to make differences. And I'm just more than happy to be a part of that."
Nature's Farm eggs and pasta can be purchased at quality independent grocery stores throughout Winnipeg. You can also buy their products direct at their office on 5 Life Sciences Parkway, Steinbach, MB.