Thursday, August 26, 2010

Effects of Egg Recall on Local Producers

On Monday, August 23rd, Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with statuses and tweets about "first day of class" or "last first day of class ever!!" I was different: I was tweeting about how the egg recall is effecting local egg producers. It was my first reporting shift of the semester (link) and I got to hang out with chickens!

Dave Todd and his daughter raise chickens and sell their eggs at the Columbia Farmer's Market. Dave sells eggs during the week and his daughter goes to the Saturday market. Todd Farm also produces flowers and vegetables for the farmer's market too. When I gave Dave a call about coming out to interview him and see his farm, he was excited to share his story. His wife, Caroline, was also helpful because she works for the Columbia Farmer's Market. I felt like I had hit the jackpot: two sources in one location! Dave and Caroline told me how all egg producers sold out on Saturday. The egg producers had sold twice as many eggs as normal - 500 dozen! When I asked to go in the hen house to get video of where the chickens lay their eggs, I was denied. Dave explained that the camera, tripod or I could contaminate the hen house and cause his chickens to get sick. While I was disappointed to not get that video, I was also reassured in his abilities as an egg producer who cared for his animals.

I then met with Jo Manhart, Director of the Missouri Egg Council. When I identified myself and asked for an interview, she replied, "Oh good! I was started to feel neglected on this egg recall business because no one has asked for an interview with me and usually I'm one of the first person called! And you're lucky too - I'm going out of town for two weeks soon so you could have missed me! When can you come today? I'm free all day!" Between my phone call and my interview time, she went home to get her "Egg Lady Shirt" and hard boil some eggs to show me. She could not have been more enthusiastic about eggs and making sure I had the correct information.

With both the Todds and Manhart, I found how much easier it is to do a story when neither source needs convincing and have a relatively free schedule! I know that this is not a regular occurrence but I was happy to have it happen on my first day back in the swing of things.