“I find your name on your egg carton extremely offensive and your sexual innuendos in advertising them vulgar,” began a recent handwritten letter to Duluth, Minnesota’s Locally Laid Egg Company. “Not only were they the highest price in the store, but also the worst in advertising.” The letter writer went on to explain that he or she had snatched up a carton in a hurry without looking at the label, and essentially would never, ever, make that mistake again. “We have enough crudeness in the world without egg advertising adding to it,” it said. Here’s the full complaint:
The company, which says it “aims to change the way eggs are produced in America” and cheekily refers to its hens as Salad Eating Poultry Athletes, acknowledged in an open letter that even while there’s a strong potential for reading a double entendre into its name, there’s a reason why their eggs are more expensive. Best of all, it’s done with humor and aplomb.
After explaining the lack of government subsidies for sustainable agriculture, Locally Laid co-owner Lucie B. Amundsen says that she and her husband move fences year-round and keep intentionally smaller flock sizes, a dicey business move. “Between 1997- 2012 the number of these types of operations have declined by 18%. That’s over 130,000 farms that have been shut, barn doors closed, tumbleweeds cued,” she writes, on the dangers of staying small. Chickens are fed non-GMO corn from Northern Minnesota, she continues, and overall produce higher-quality eggs with brighter yolks. “We’re always looking for more winter activities for our chickens as they break down bundles of hay waiting for warmer weather,” Amundsen writes, on the challenges of staying genuinely cage-free. The thousand-word letter also touches on the benefits of so-called mid-level agriculture, but it’s also breezy, surprisingly accessible, and not preachy at all.
In the world of chickens outside of Duluth, it’s been a rough few months: Despite the chain’s advocacy to humane standards, an animal-rights group claimed it had evidence Chick-fil-A had a relationship with an allegedly cruel supplier; another group went after a Whole Foods “humanely raised” supplier; yet another went after Starbucks for what it claimed was a relationship to “cruel farms,” just months before the coffee chain made its broadest commitment yet to cage-free eggs. Even a contract farmer for Perdue allowed activists to film on his farm, claiming the sick animals depicted on video were a result of the company’s “humane” specifications.
Regardless of where your opinion lands, the need for industry transparency and agreement on animal-welfare standards now has its most prominent turn in the spotlight yet. The letter from Locally Laid’s owners, which has since gone sort of viral in Minnesota, helps break down the industry’s broader woes just by keeping its eyes on the much smaller picture. “We can’t quite believe something this farm nerdy is getting any love,” they wrote on Twitter. It makes perfect sense to us — let’s hope the anonymous letter writer takes them up on the offer of a free T-shirt.