Farmer Mark's Articles

How Can I Pitch In? (Volume 6) EGG CARTONS!

People are always asking how they can get involved and help out at the farm.  Right now, one way to do that is to save your used egg cartons (ones you buy from NOMAD Farms or recycle your grocery store cartons with us).  Our laying hens are goin' at it at this time of year, so we need your recycled cartons to put them in...there are enough egg cartons going into land fills that we shouldn't have to buy them and pass the charge on to our customers.  Repurpose those babies!

Bring your empty egg cartons by the Log Cabin Farm Store when you come here to shop or take a tour.  Or bring them to us at the Cobblestone Farmers Market each Saturday or church or wherever you are likely to see us.  We prefer the clear plastic ones like the ones you see in the picture above, but we will take cardboard ones as well.  No styrofoam, please.

Other things to bring to help out: paper bags from the grocery store (we use them to let our customers take purchases home in), compostable material (clean, please--no wrappers or meat chunks!  We can't take time to separate garbage), or a chunk of a perennial garden plant or flower for beautifying our wood lines and beds (dig up a shovel full of a split hosta or lily or hydrangea and bring it in a plastic pot or bag).  

This is a team effort !  We want to share the beauty of this place with you, and every contribution from our patrons is a win for sustainable agriculture.

New stock of fresh pasture raised beef at NOMAD!

Hurry to the NOMAD Farms Log Cabin Store and stock up on fresh, no-nonsense pasture raised beef today!  We just got it back from the butcher, and this is absolutely the most beautiful, delicious grass fed beef you will ever taste.  And the best part?  It was raised with integrity right here on the chemical-free meadows of NOMAD Farms.  Did you see the cover story in Consumer Reports this month on the dangers of grocery store beef?  It's not worth the risk, folks, plain and simple.

Healthy living can't be separated from healthy eating, guys.  The good news is that eating good-for-you NOMAD meat products is a mouth watering pleasure!


Also in stock: we just got a beautiful lamb back from the butcher and expect to have a whole pork available by cut in the farm store by the end of next week, too.  Thanksgiving turkeys and coming soon and free range eggs are in plenty.  And, of course, the Log Cabin Store is well stocked with our much-heralded pasture raised chicken--have you tried one of these things?!?  They are outrageously good, and full of nutrition to boot.  With our current special (buy 8 get one FREE!) people are stocking up for the winter months.  These chickens are raised on grass, and when it turns brown next month we have to stop raising chickens until spring 2016.  Don't get caught having to go back to grocery store chicken (or better than that, going without chicken) until spring.  Put a few in your freezer this week!


An Eye-Opening Comparison

Small farm hero Joel Salatin, in his 1993 blockbuster book Pastured Poultry Profit$, included a chart comparing chickens from his clean-and-green family farm to those you can buy in a conventional grocery store.  Reading that chart took me aback, and now that we are providing pasture raised chicken, I have modified his chart to reflect what we are doing at NOMAD Farms--comparing our birds with grocery store birds.  *All entries listed in red below also apply to nearly all "Certified Organic" chickens.  Just because it is "organic" doesn't necessarily mean it is healthy!  Are you ready for this?


NOMAD Farms Chicken  Conventional Chicken
Unvaccinated                                                                                        Vaccinated (immuno-suppressant)                                             
Full, natural beak Debeaked (cannibalism a problem)
Probiotics (immuno-stimulant)                                   Antibiotics (immuno-depressant)
Composting litter in brooder (sanitized
   through decomposition)
Sterilized litter (toxic fumigants and sprays)

Practically no ammonia vapor (little smell) *Hyper-ammonia toxicity (stench)
Natural light *No natural light
Rest at night--lights off

Artificial lighting 24/7 (sleeping birds
   don't grow as quickly)
No medications Routine medications
No hormones Routine hormones
No appetite stimulants Routine appetite stimulants (arsenic)
Small groups (200 or fewer) *Huge groups (10,000 or more)
Low stress *High stress
Clean air

*Air hazy with fecal particulate (damages
   respiratory tract, pulls vitamins from body)
Fresh air and sunshine *Limited air, practically no sunshine
Plenty of exercise *Limited exercise (burns calories, slows growth)
Live on fresh grass 24 hours/day after first week
   of life, hand moved twice daily to new grass
*No green material or bugs

Animal friendly protective shelters that
   move around farm
 Packed tightly into longhouses

Short transport to processing (on farm) *Long transport to processing (stressful)
Killed by precise and small throat slit
   (per Biblical directives--see Leviticus)
 *Killed by electric shock (inhibits bleeding
   after throat is slit)
Carefully hand eviscerated and cleaned

*Mechanically eviscerated (prone to breaking
   intestines, spilling feces over carcass)
Customer AND NCDA inspection

*Government inspections only
   (customer forbidden to see)
No injections during processing Routine injections (tenderizers, dyes...)
Sick birds placed in isolation for second
   chance--most get well)
Sick birds destroyed immediately

Manure falls onto grass/soil to fertilize pastures
   naturally--efficient nutrient cycling)
Manure fed to cattle or spread in ways that cause
   water pollution and taxpayer clean-ups
Fresh air and sunshine sanitize processing area *Toxic germicides sanitize processing facility
Cooking loss ±9% carcass weight Cooking loss ±20% carcass weight
Low saturated fat High saturated fat
No chlorine baths Up to 40 chlorine baths (to kill contaminants)
No irradiation FDA-approved irradiation (label not required)
Environmentally responsible Environmentally destructive (toxic run-off, hidden costs...)
Promotes family farming Promotes feudal/serf agriculture
Decentralized food system Centralized food system
Promotes entrepreneurial spirit Promotes low wage/time-clock employment
Consumer-producer relationship Consumer-producer alienation
Rich, delicious taste Poor, flat taste
Edible  Inedible

(*Items in red above also apply to nearly all "certified organic" chicken.)

How about stopping by NOMAD Farms this week for some fresh, healthy pastured chicken?  Or see our What's Happening page to find out how to get chicken delivered free--with a free gift!

NOMAD Farms Chicken has a New Look

Our family of six woke up early and started processing part of the second batch of NOMAD Farms' fresh, pasture raised, better-than-organic chicken!  The biggest change?  Our packaging.  Stays fresher longer, and makes this chicken look as professional and high quality as it truly IS.  


Those of you who bought chickens our last go 'round got it in a zip-loc bag.  Not the statement we wanted to make with our packaging.  But it was out of necessity, as our freezer-quality logo labels were not yet delivered.  These labels, besides looking great, actually are a vital step to sealing in freshness.  


We now have fresh chicken available at any time.  Drop by the farm Mon- Sat, 9:00 - 5:00 (call ahead to make sure we are here) and see what we have in the NOMAD Farm store.  These chickens will sell out, and we will have to process again soon.  T-shirts, compost bins, logo bumper stickers and more await you in the farm store.  Both whole chickens and butchered chickens (conveniently cut into two boneless, skinless breasts, two tenders, two quarter chickens (leg & thing),  two wings and a back for stock) are in the never-frozen section.  Hearts and livers sell for $2.50/lb.  Gizzards, necks ($1.50/lb) and feet (FEET?  YES!!!!  Add them to your backs and necks for a SUPERIOR stock flavor--no kidding!) separately packaged as well.  


One last note...tomorrow (Friday morning) we are hosting a huge educational farm tour at 10:00.  We expect over 50 people.  This is fun, informative, and relaxing.  Great for kids.  We may start doing tours every Friday morning on a sign-up basis.  More info to come.


Many thanks, from your clean food processing team!

Why Does NOMAD Charge $18 per Chicken?

Warning:  I am prone to this.  Those who know me best are familiar with my propensity to soapbox on the subjects that most inflame me with passion.


Clean, healthy food is one of my passions.


Someone who loves me very much sent a kind-hearted and gentle email this morning to let me know of her concerns that we cannot sustain our business in the long term selling chickens for $18.  She compared our chickens to the ones she is buying at a health-conscious grocery store—let’s use the letters WF to represent that store—and essentially communicated that we are charging a higher price than our competition for what must be an inferior product. 


If I can get you to finish reading this blog entry, I think you will understand that exactly the opposite is true: we are selling a superior chicken for a lower price.


I am NOT in this blog entry comparing our chicken to the cheap, low quality stuff you fish out of the bargain freezers at Costco and Food Lion.  Those Tyson or Perdue chickens are not the same product.  They are intentionally low cost, low quality, steroid-laden, antibiotic-riddled, unethically raised, environmentally destructive junk food chickens raised to get the most bang for the buck in the short term.  You see the long term costs of these chickens in your checkbook, and in headlines like: “Health Insurance Jumps Again—rate increases due to skyrocketing incidence of cancer, disease and obesity” or “Tax Hike—taxpayers responsible for bill in latest chicken sludge environmental disaster” or “ERs Overworked—Salmonella outbreak kills 6, sickens thousands.”  Our chicken has nothing to do with this stuff.


Our chicken is more comparable to the better products sold at stores like WF.  Chickens there are fresher, many raised on organic feed with few or no antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, etc.  They are overall good for you.  I am not opposed to folks buying their chicken at stores like WF.


But how does our chicken compare?


1.       (Most importantly) We are local.  I spoke at a party with a nutrition expert this week who says she tells people “Local first, organic second.”  Local food is superior for myriad reasons.  It makes sense.  When you ship something across the country or across the ocean, you must do bad things to it.  The chickens at WF may or may not be “locally” sourced . . . at our WF, the local chickens come from Texas.  They are ten days old before they leave the shelves.  They are packaged in about half a pound of water.  Still, this is better than Tyson.


Was your chicken from WF raised in a dark room with poor ventilation, no exercise, in a cage with little space (while eating organic grain)?  How can you know?  What does “access to outdoors” mean?  Who oversees it?  Come to NOMAD Farms and see every step of the process.  Hold the chickens.  Read the ingredients on the healthy, no animal byproduct, medication-free, high protein feeds we offer.  Watch our healthy chickens eat bugs and grass, run in the sunshine and enjoy fresh air.  Local foods can be seen and touched.  WF cannot offer this. 


2.       We are healthier.  My guess is that one in fifty people who buy organic meats can articulate what organic means in an educated manner.  Without going into what “organic” means, it only refers to what the chicken ate while it lived.  “Organic” does not insure ethical treatment, clean facilities, or even healthy air.  “Organic” does not necessarily mean “healthy”—or even “healthier”!  Most organic chickens are slaughtered at the same types of unclean and unethical processing plants Perdue and Tyson use. When people ask, “Is it organic?” the true question is “Is it healthy?”  It’s only healthy if it is healthy from the hatchling to the farm to the slaughter to the packaging to the consumer.  We can provide that.


This article: clearly articulates why “pasture raised” is better than “organic,” given a choice between the two.  This is where I would differ from the nutrition expert I talked to at the party—I would say local first, pasture raised second.  The data on the health differences between organic and non-organic indicate a slight jump in nutrition quality.  But the data says the difference between pasture raised and non-pasture raised is a HUGE jump in nutrition. 


We are not yet organically certified because of the expense and hassle related to that certification.  Our feed is high quality.  Our living standards are better.  Our health and sanitation standards are higher.  Nutrition comparisons between pastured poultry farms (like ours) and health food store chickens consistently show that we (the small farm farmers) sell the superior product.


3.       We are cheaper.  For most folks, this is where the rubber meets the road.  In the email, she told me she was paying $3.79/lb for her WF chickens, usually at about 3 lbs. for an average price of $11.37 for a whole chicken.  Ours are $18.00.  Aren’t ours way more expensive?  No, actually.  Our last batch of chickens dressed out at an average of 4.7 pounds per bird.  If we charged $3.79, that’s $17.81.  WF is charging tax on top of that.  And look how much water comes in the WF bag with the chicken!  Some of our birds are smaller, closer to 4 pounds.  Some, however, are larger, weighing over 5 pounds.  We are taking the weight variance guesswork out and charging a rate based on averages...consistent price is easier for everyone.  This keeps some people from having to pay over $20 for a large bird. 


Our pricing is consistent with fresh-food farm rates.  We have almost $7 cash invested in purchasing, feeding, processing and packaging each bird.   That means we processed our first batch of chickens at a rate of about $4/hour for my labor.  That does not even address what we have put into infrastructure.  We are new at this and will get better, but I can assure you we are providing a great product for a great price.


I could go on and on, but I think you get the general idea. 


Try one of our chickens.  Taste the difference.  See how much further it goes than your average grocery store chicken.  And know that it is good for you, ethically raised, environmentally responsible, and comes from a farm where integrity in all things is important. 


We sell a better product at a lower price.  I am confident there is not a more healthy chicken available at ANY store, farm, or restaurant in the Winston-Salem area than NOMAD Farms chickens.  


  1. Re: An Eye-Opening Comparison

    good post

    -- replica Cartier watches

  2. Re: NOMAD Farms Chicken has a New Look

    "Pastured Poultry" I love it! Continued best wishes to you guys.

    -- DC

  3. Re: An Eye-Opening Comparison

    Wow thank you for sharing this comparison. Very eye opening and disturbing!!!!!!!

    -- Tina

  4. Re: Why Does NOMAD Charge $18 per Chicken?

    Great article, Dana! You really broke things down well!

    -- Denys