The Incredible, Edible, Egg
A year ago I switched to eggs solely from Chip In Farm in Bedford, MA. I have driven out to Bedford every week to transport the fresh eggs personally which gives me a little time to reflect every week about the reasons why I do it. They are significantly more expensive than regular eggs but easily the most reasonable priced farm fresh eggs on the market. ( $9.95 a dozen?!! Go fuck yourself Elitist Gentleman Farmer!) I have to pick them up personally, adding to the cost, but making the connection more in depth. I was forced to raise my prices at brunch while reducing my profit margins at the same time. Why would any business man make such a decision? These types of decisions are the nails in the coffin for a business with the tight margins and wide spectrum of perceived value our guests have. But for me, since the beginning phase of concept of RnR, these details are what give me fuel to continue our work. The more important values of quality of product, partnering with like minded responsible businesses, and supporting a different type of economic market with our purchases are just some of the reasons we are proud to serve exclusively Chip-In Farm eggs.
Farm fresh eggs taste better. Period. Anyone who pays attention to what they put in their mouth will agree that the egg is the best representative of how much better a nurtured food is to a mass produced one. The rich yellow of the yolk, the levels of white that is gooey and firm, the way the curds scramble and retain moisture (and butter) while cooking all show through as you eat them. A sunny side up farm egg lets the flavor of freshness run over whatever fantastic things are fortunate enough to be placed underneath it. An egg is a delicate food ,as we all well know, but is also incredibly durable. The inside is protected by a shell that hides the effects of age and mistreatment. A beautiful light blue free range farm fresh egg plucked from the farmers market comes home to crack open and reveal a pale yolk, thin shell. and runny white, all signs of age and poor detail of storage. The small local farm model has produced exceptional products to the consumer and restaurant alike, but has also supported mediocre lazy producers that put their bottom line above the quality that this new market is founded on. Finding those producers that can balance good business and pricing with the detail of quality needed to justify the cost is the hardest part of establishing relationships in this business and the team at Chip-In does just that.
A restaurant is a diverse crossroads today of business. The suppliers of all the necessary pieces to make this run, the companies that sell these products, the way they get it to our little pocket of a Boston neighborhood all create complex decisions to who we do business with. It has always been important to me to be able to know the people we do business with to nurture the relationship our business creates as well as personalizing the transaction. When I reached out to Chip-In Farm I was introduced to Neal and Paul, brothers and third generation egg farmers in Bedford. From the tour of the coop, our weekly handshakes and conversations, sorting eggs in the basement on a machine from 1962, to seeing their kids wreak havoc around the farm it gives the whole relationship a bigger meaning. Farms are fragile entities and visiting one regularly nurtures the initial desire I had to close the gap between the money we bring in and who it goes to. The extra effort to work with them ensures a consistent flow of business to a family focused on the details I share in work, keeps another American farm going, and provides much needed consistent income to an old family business that is intent on keeping it that way.
A truly sustainable economic market in local food has developed to target the middle class as a consumer and it is growing rapidly. Farms like Chip-In have been brought back from the brink and given the much needed economic support to continue focusing on what they do and doing it well. This happened all across the country due to a change in the American opinion of where their food is from and a demand for quality. Neal and Paul almost had to sell the farm a decade ago due to the price sharks on the egg market until they decided to try selling themselves and slowly built the farm back up. As this network grows beyond the boutique markets and 3 star restaurants into the everyday home and neighborhood family restaurant it needs support more then ever but doesn’t ask for charity. The growth of farms like Chip-In, that provide an exceptional product, for a reasonable price, consistently, and without flash, are an exciting new direction that had taken the back seat for a long time to the fame focused farms with more talk and less show. Yes, those rare heirloom varieties of cucumber are fun, but at $6 a pound it prices out even the most liberal consumer with mild budgeting sense. The growing class of farm that is bringing produce and products to more of the general public is a refreshing change that we are proud to go the extra mile to support. It is a network that will reap long term benefits for the total population, which is what it is all about for us.
As I drove away from the red barns covered with an inch of late winter snow and prepared to creep back to Roslindale along slick roads, the eggs in the back of car seemed to mean more than usual. The lean times of winter bring finances and philosophy into focus. It is one of my favorite emotions that has developed as a new New Englander. The deep true relationships that people have here are backed by respect for hard work and a forward thinking direction without pride and show, making Boston and this region endearing. Paul, Neal, the families at Chip-In Farm, and the delicious precious eggs they raise play a good counter to my plaid pants and big mouth and I couldn’t be happier to be working with them. Yin and yang, but all for the cause.