USDA Releases Report on the Growing Importance of Food Hubs in Rural America
By Mel Fabrikant Sunday, March 03, 2013, 06:25 PM EST
The USDA’s definition of a regional food hub is “a business or organization that actively manages the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products primarily from local and regional producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand”. Through their partnerships with twenty-five farmers in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Georgia, Vital Farms is able to provide the only pasture-raised organic egg available nationwide.
Vital Farms’ birds live outdoors on 108 to 500 square feet of organic pasture per bird. This is fifty times the required space allotment of a typical organic egg farm. Since 2008, Vital Farms has grown over 4,500% (during the economic recession), proving that pasture-raised, organic farming and high standards of animal welfare are beloved and supported by consumers. The taste difference of pasture-raised eggs cannot be overstated; by foraging native grasses rich with beta-carotene and vitamins, laying hens produce eggs with thick, delicious orange yolks and fuller egg whites.
With the support of natural grocers like Whole Foods Market, The Fresh Market, Vitamin Cottage, Earth Fare and many small health food co-ops, Vital Farms is able to bring ethically produced food to tables across the country.
“Our birds’ outdoor lifestyle and varied diet on pasture create an egg with better flavor and higher nutrition, and consumers can feel good supporting humane farming practices. People want to know where their food comes from, and we’ve been successful to date because we’re very open about how our farms operate and how our birds live. Everything we do is centered around the animal,” says Jason Jones, Vital Farms’ President and COO. “It’s more expensive to farm this way. More land and human attention are required, and we pay our farmers much more than conventional producers. But consumers are prioritizing putting the best quality food on their tables, even in tough economic times.”
More information about USDA’s work on food hubs is available at www.ams.usda.gov/foodhubs.
*Inc. 500, Inc. Magazine 2012