Let’s talk about easy lunches for kids. Chicken may not be your first thought when you think of kid lunches, but what about breaded chicken nuggets and chicken tender wraps? We kid-tested these lunches and immediately got all the “mmmmm”s and “I want more” after the first couple of bites. Spoiler alert: it’s all HEALTHY, and the adults loved it too.
So here are four recipes that will bring you lunchbox success! We even dropped some recommendations at the end for different lunch sides.

1. HEALTHY CHICKEN NUGGETS

What about a chicken nugget is healthy? Well, we withheld salty breading and oil for deep-frying. We lightly tossed our cut-up pieces of organic chicken breast in a breadcrumb mix we made ourselves for peak crispiness. When we tested this, these kiddos didn’t even use dipping sauce because they were so excited to eat them!

Ingredients:

  • Two Farmer Focus boneless skinless organic chicken breast
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbsp whole wheat Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp panko
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
  • olive oil spray for the baking pan.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F and prep an oven-safe pan by spraying it with olive oil.
  2. Cut chicken breast into one-inch pieces. We want these to be bite-sized.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl, combine olive oil, panko, Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese.
  4. Using tongs, place chicken pieces in the breaded mixture. Toss the chicken in the bowl to coat in the mix. Make sure not to overcrowd the bowl so that the pieces can be evenly coated. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
  5. Place your breaded chicken pieces on an oven-safe pan and bake for 8-10 minutes. After that, turn them over on the pan and bake them for another 5 minutes. *use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. The internal temperature should be at least 165°F.

Notes: This recipe was inspired by skinnytaste’s Healthy Baked Chicken Nuggets. 

2. CHICKEN HASH BROWNS WITH BASIL

Lulu picked her favorite ingredients for us (especially the basil), and her dad knew hash browns would be a perfect way to use breakfast leftovers and make a lunch to look forward to.

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Tenders (approximately 1lb)
  • Bacon crumbles/bits. We recommend getting real bacon bits or even cooking some on your own to crumble.
  • Your favorite shredded cheese.
  • One to two potatoes
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.
  • Three basil leaves (or more if you love it like Lulu)
  • Olive oil *feel free to substitute with an oil/ghee of your choice.

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. Add one tablespoon of olive oil to a medium frying pan as the chicken is baking.
  6. Dice the potatoes, then add them to the frying pan. Cook them until they are browned, stirring them occasionally, then set to the side. *We used leftover hash browns from breakfast.
  7. Once the chicken is baked to an internal temperature of at least 165°F and has cooled, cut the tenders into smaller pieces (about 2-inch pieces).
  8. In your container for lunch, place the ingredients in this order: hash browns (potatoes), chicken, cheese, and basil.

Notes:

*feel free to substitute with an oil/ghee of your choice.

*We use leftover hash browns from breakfast for our crispy potatoes, but you can use them from scratch or substitute for cauliflower hash

3. CHICKEN TENDER WRAPS

You cannot go wrong here if you are in a pinch for time. Grab your favorite veggies to stuff in these wraps. It is hard for picky eaters to notice veggies when the chicken has so much flavor!

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Tenders (approximately 1lb)
  • Veggies that are good for stuffing wraps. We grabbed a spring lettuce mix from our local food co-op.
  • Your favorite shredded cheese. We used shredded cheddar cheese.
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.
  • Tortilla wrap of choice. We used flour tortillas, but there are gluten-free options if interested.
  • Optional: sauce to add to your wrap.

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 15 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. Assemble! Grab a tortilla and stuff your wrap with all other ingredients (veggies, cheese, sauce, etc.). We were able to fit one to two chicken tenders per wrap.
  6. Cut wraps in half for a better fit in a lunch box and little hands.

Notes:

*low-sodium diet? We use small amounts here to season our chicken, but you can skip this and choose seasonings of your choice!

4. TOASTED C.L.T. (CHICKEN LETTUCE TOMATO) SANDWICH

This sandwich may sound like a big-kid/adult lunch, and it is, BUT the kids will absolutely love it all, from the toasty bread to the juicy tomato and chicken.

Ingredients:

  • One pack of Farmer Focus Organic Chicken Thighs (approximately 1lb) *One chicken thigh per sandwich
  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Mayo, or a substitute like plain greek yogurt
  • Two slices of bread to toast
  • Salt & pepper to season the chicken.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Place your chicken on an oven-safe dish/pan.
  3. Season both sides of your chicken tenders with salt and pepper. *no salt diet, no problem. Just skip the salt here.
  4. Once the oven is preheated, bake your chicken for 17 minutes, flipping halfway through or until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
  5. While the chicken bakes, wash all vegetables and toast two slices of bread of your choice.
  6. Spread mayo onto one slice of the bread. *Want to skip the mayo? Go ahead or consider one of these options instead: plain greek yogurt or mustard
  7. Build your sandwich in this order: toast slice with mayo, one Farmer Focus chicken thigh, lettuce leaf, one to two tomato slices, and a slice of toast.
  8. Cut this sandwich in half for a better fit in a lunch box and little hands.

Notes: 

*Want to skip the mayo? Go ahead or consider one of these options instead: plain greek yogurt or mustard.

*Want more flavor? Add bacon crumbles to your Farmer Focus C.L.T.

*low-sodium diet? We use small amounts here to season our chicken, but you can skip this and choose seasonings of your choice!

DON’T KNOW WHAT TO PACK AS A SIDE IN THESE LUNCHES? HERE ARE SOME IDEAS!

Fruit:

  • Apple slices
  • Pineapple chunks
  • Blueberries
  • Grapes
  • Apple sauce
  • Once-Upon-A-Farm Fruit Smoothies

Vegetables:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Celery
  • Olives

Grain:

  • Pretzels
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Popcorn

Dairy: 

  • yogurt
  • cheese stick
Chicken Hash Browns lunch with pineapple and olives.

The NEXTY Awards recognize the most progressive, impactful, and trustworthy products in the natural products industry. Farmer Focus is excited to announce that two of its newest pre-seasoned products have been nominated for NEXTY Awards.

Due to inflation, 94% of consumers plan to maintain or increase the number of meals they eat at home. Our pre-seasoned line is made to help home chefs break up mealtime monotony with easy-to-make, healthy, clean, and chef-inspired flavors at home. Take a look below for a sneak peek at our newest products coming to stores in late 2022!

NOMINATED AS BEST NEW ORGANIC OR REGENERATIVE PRODUCT

HONEY JALAPEÑO PARTY WINGS

The perfect balance of spicy and sweet, these Honey Jalapeño Wings elevate any home cook’s meal, whether on the grill or broiled in the oven.

NOMINATED AS BEST NEW MEAT, DAIRY, OR ANIMAL-BASED PRODUCT

BLACK GARLIC GINGER BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN THIGHS

The earthiness of black garlic matches perfectly with the fresh burst of ginger to deliver a chicken thigh dish like no other, an allergen-free teriyaki alternative for all.

LASTEST FARMER FOCUS BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST PRE-SEASONED PRODUCT

CARIBBEAN JERK BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREAST

This island-inspired recipe blends spicy chili peppers with cinnamon and thyme to provide an organic, allergen-free, and easy-to-cook dish that will turn any meal into a vacation.

Whole Chickens are so in right now. If are in need of chicken breast, thighs, drumsticks, or more for meals this week, then getting a whole chicken can be an easy way to get everything you need with one purchase. We are bringing you three of our favorite whole chicken recipes, so you can be prepared to make lunch, dinner, and/or leftovers exciting!

If you know exactly how you want to season your chicken or pack leftovers, we will leave this quick cooking recommendation for baking and grilling a whole chicken right here. If you need some cooking inspiration, keep reading!

#1 CRISPY WHOLE ROASTED CHICKEN

Don’t let this independent list of simple veggies and seasonings fool you. Yes, it is simple to prepare and bake, but the flavors are beyond simple! Something about garlic, thyme, and lemon compliments the crispiness accomplished with Chef Michael Symon’s recipe. He is a chef, but he is also a human being who learned how to cook and created an easy recipe for you so that you can cook and enjoy this at home yourself!

#2 LOADED CHICKEN SALAD

There is something so light and seasonal about chicken salad. This is a great “pack you lunch” option for any work day with crisp fruits and vegetables making you feel fresh. Lisa Leake knew what she was doing when she created this recipe!

…And by all means, enjoy this on your days off too!

#3 GARLIC GRILLED CHICKEN

All you need to hear for this one is “honey butter”. This Garlic Grilled Chicken from Brooklyn Supper brings garlic and honey front and center on the grill… right next to the chicken of course. Check out the recipe here and channel your inner grill master for this one.

BREAKING DOWN A WHOLE CHICKEN

Depending on the size and appetites of our household, a whole chicken can provide enough meat for 2-3 meals! It can be hard to think through the best way to cut a whole chicken, and maybe we choose to cut it AFTER we cook it.

In this video, Breaking Down A Whole Chicken, we go over where to start and where to cut, so getting all parts of the whole bird before cooking can be less complicated.

If you are still looking for more, visit our recipe page here for more cooking inspiration.

We’ve all experienced food differently in the last two years. Some of it might have been positive: more family meals at home; starting a first backyard or patio veggie garden; or heck, maybe you became an InstaPot sensation on TikTok. But much of what we experienced has been a little rough:  store shelves and cases without our favorite brands; higher prices for the food we do buy; or needing to tap into food banks or SNAP to keep our families fed.

While there is no “wave a wand” and make it all better solution to the challenges that the pandemic, supply chain disruptions, and now war has caused, there is reason for optimism that we as a country will move out of this. It will take many hands, certainly those of the people who grow and make our food, but also improved public policy to incentivize a food system that comes back online even more healthy, sustainable, and equitable.

On June 1st, the USDA announced a new framework to drive us in those directions. While the framework covers many areas of the supply chains that collectively deliver nutrition security in the US, there are a few areas that we at Farmer Focus are particularly excited to see.

On The Farm

This program puts $300 million towards helping more farmers transition to organic farming and calls out the climate and environmental benefits of that transition. Farmer Focus gave input into the program, and we were thrilled to see that some of our recommendations made it, including funding farmer-to-farmer mentoring programs. We’ve seen firsthand what happens when farmers stop competing and start raising each other up by sharing information to make their operations more efficient, sustainable, and equitable for all. We believe farmers should get paid for all their work – including their work as educators and mentors.

Processing

Moving from the farm to food processing, there are significant potential gains in increased development and training of workers to create safer processing facilities. One of the core tenets of Farmer Focus’ culture has always been worker safety, which is reflected in our COVID response and our continued safety milestones, recently celebrating 5 Million Man Hours without a lost workday injury.  

In addition to worker safety concerns in traditional meat and poultry processing, the USDA and administration continue to recognize that a lack of competition can create problematic bottlenecks for farmers and ranchers while limiting consumer choice. We saw this during the pandemic, with meat shortages and farmers unable to process their herds and flocks. In the USDA framework, there’s funding for a new loan program to help small and medium processors expand their operations, focus investments on improving their waste and water management, and modernize equipment for food safety.

Farmer Focus applauds the USDA’s efforts and celebrates all of the people who grow, make, distribute and prepare our food, from fields to grocery stores or restaurants. We believe the future of food for our families is more healthy and nutrient-dense food that benefits both people and our planet.

Matthew Dillon, Chief Sustainability Officer

At Farmer Focus, we celebrate Small Businesses every day. If you’ve bought Farmer Focus organic chicken, you have celebrated that too.  

As we approach small business Saturday, we wanted to highlight how a simple package of Farmer Focus organic chicken allows small business owners and their communities to thrive.  

Organic and Sustainable Starts at the Farm

Healthy chickens and sustainable farming practices are products of a supported farmer. Our 3rd party certifiers ensure that every farm meets Organic, Humane Certified, and non-GMO standards. In addition to 3rd party certifiers, Farmer Focus has a farm team that partners with our farmers to understand and offer guidance on-farm practices for individual farms. Because we offer our farmers the freedom to farm the best way for their families, their birds, and their small business, we find that most of our farmers exceed our standards.

Fair Pay for Farmers

Our partner farmers report making 25-30% more with us than competitors. That means they can invest in more supportive technology and equipment for their farms. It also means that our farmers can contribute more to the communities in which they live. That support of the community is essential to ensuring that farms survive and thrive for generations.

Traceability to Farmers

Every package of Farmer Focus chicken includes a Farm ID so that you can trace your chicken back to the farmer who raised it. At Farmer Focus, we believe trust in claims starts with knowing the people behind your food. 

Whether you have had chicken from JulesJasonBrett, Daryn, or any other of our farm families, you have helped support small businesses as they continue to raise the standard for raising chickens. For that support, Farmer Focus and our farmers thank you. 

WHAT TO IGNORE AND WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Clearing Up Claims Confusion

Even the most well intentioned shopper can have a hard time sifting through all of the different claims on packages in the grocery store meat case. “All Natural,” “free-range,” “fresh,” and “farm-raised” all sound good, but what do they truly mean, and how can you be sure they are verified?

CLAIM TO IGNORE: “CAGE-FREE”

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A company who puts a “Cage-Free” claim on a package of chicken is misleading their customers.

In the chicken industry, there are two kinds of chickens: layers and broilers. Layers produce eggs, and broilers produce meat. Some companies keep layer hens in cages to streamline the collection of eggs, which is not a humane way to care for birds. But no companies cage their broiler chickens – it’s costly and impractical. The absence of cages does not mean free-range, and these “Cage-Free” broiler chickens can still be kept in high-density houses—which isn’t much different from a cage anyway.  

CLAIM TO IGNORE: “FARM-RAISED”

Similar to “Cage-Free,” this is another way that companies try to differentiate themselves…even though they are no different. All broiler chickens are raised on farms. What actually matters are the certifications a brand carries that speak to the practices on those farms—especially certifications that are subject to third party auditors.

CLAIM TO IGNORE: “ALL-NATURAL”

Some companies will use the claim “All-Natural” on their chicken, but this chicken can still include a lot of things that aren’t natural at all.

“All-Natural” is used to describe products that don’t include added synthetic ingredients (such as artificial colors, MSG, preservatives, etc.), this doesn’t necessarily mean the production methods are entirely natural. “All-Natural” doesn’t rule out the use of a method called “plumping”, which refers to the use of a saline injection that might include ingredients like lemon juice, broth, or sugar (ingredients also considered “All-Natural”). Check the ingredients list, and find sodium content on the Nutrition Information panel.

Additionally, animal by-products, antibiotics, and fillers can still be fed to “All Natural” chickens.

This “All Natural” claim is not only a misleading claim for meat products, but for all food products. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and genetically modified plants are still considered “All Natural”. Look for the USDA Organic, non-GMO, or certified naturally grown labels if you’re trying to stay closer to nature.

click here for FDA comments on the use of “All-Natural” on labels.

CLAIM TO IGNORE: “RAISED WITHOUT ADDED HORMONES” OR “NO STEROIDS”

Many chicken companies make the claim “RAISED WITHOUT ADDED HORMONES!” or “NO STEROIDS” on their chicken packages. More than 75% of consumers think there are added hormones or steroids present in most chicken meat—but the use of hormones and steroids in poultry and pork was banned by the USDA in the 1950s. That is why we never have—and never will—add this claim on our packages, and why you might ask yourself why a company would add this misleading claim to theirs.

Hormones can still legally be added to beef—claims of no hormones in these products certainly DO make a difference in the production methods.

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CLAIM TO IGNORE: “FRESH”

In the meat industry, “Fresh” refers to items that have never been frozen below 26°F (-3°C). Meat products are frozen to this degree for long-distance shipping or meal kit delivery. “Fresh” is not an indication of product quality, just the temperature it’s been kept.

CLAIM TO LOOK FOR: USDA ORGANIC LOGO

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The USDA Organic certification is an official accreditation granted by the Secretary of Agriculture to businesses that submit an application, demonstrate sufficient expertise in organic farming and handling, and comply with the appropriate guidelines. Products with the USDA Organic logo displayed on their packaging or label have been produced without synthetic chemicals, on land that has not been exposed to those chemicals. for 3 years previous.

As it pertains to broiler chickens, the USDA Organic certification means they’re raised without antibiotics and that they have clean, dry bedding in their houses and outdoor access to encourage natural behaviors.


CLAIM TO LOOK FOR: THIRD-PARTY HUMANE CERTIFICATIONS

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When “Free-Range” appears on a chicken product label, many folks picture the chickens roaming free in a green pasture… but legally it just means they have access to the outside.

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Even the USDA Organic certification sets no specific standards for the size of the outdoor area, the size of the door leading between inside and outside, or the amount of time the birds spend outdoors.

Certified Humane and Global Animal Partnership standards outline minimum measures for each of those aspects—to ensure the birds have access to fresh air and room to run.

Other humane/animal welfare labels to look for:

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For more information about humane/animal welfare claims,
The Animal Welfare Institute is a great resource!

CLAIM TO LOOK FOR: “NO ANTIBIOTICS EVER

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There’s been a lot of buzz about antibiotics used in animal products, and whether or not ABF (antibiotic-free) meat is the same as Organic. To clear things up a bit, Organic meat is always raised without antibiotics, but ABF meat isn’t always Organic. Just like all chickens are birds, but not all birds are chickens.

To add to the confusion, some companies might inject eggs with antibiotics and sell them to Organic producers, because Organic standards are only enforced the day after the chickens hatch. If the use of antibiotics is your most pressing concern, look for the “No Antibiotics Ever” claim.

If a flock requires antibiotics (it’s humane to care for sick birds), it’s then sold as conventional chicken—even if it was intended to be raised Organically. Luckily, SVO has never had to administer antibiotics to a sick flock, because our farmers have never had a sick flock!

CLAIM TO LOOK FOR: “100% FARMER OWNED”

Most poultry growers don’t own the birds they raise, and conventional business models create competition between farmers by using a ‘tournament system’ for compensation.

At SVO, our farmer partners own the chickens and the feed up until they are full grown, at which point we purchase them at a premium price per pound. We treat our farmers with respect and dignity, and pay them fairly, because we believe in and value the work they do.

The benefits of going Organic reach so much farther than our individual health interests. Including environmental sustainability and animal welfare, Organic farming practices provide real benefits for the hard-working people who put food on our plates.

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HEALTHIER WORK ENVIRONMENT:

Conventional non-Organic farming sprays hundreds of thousands of gallons of pesticides and herbicides on their crops each year—and farmers/laborers are experiencing the consequences of long-term exposure.

The Organic Center, with funding from the UNFI Foundation, synthesized 129 research studies from around the world that looked at the impacts of synthetic pesticides on the health of farm-workers and farm communities. The EPA estimates that agricultural workers and others who handle pesticides suffer between 1,800 and 3,000 preventable exposures per year. While some symptoms are immediate (skin irritation or respiratory problems) longer term exposure can be devastating (cancer, poor reproductive health, and neurodegenerative disorders).

As part of the EPA’s Conventional Reduced Risk Pesticide Program, several agrochemicals that have been linked to brain damage and water contamination are up for review: chlorpyrifos-methyl, dicrotophos, dimethoate, ethoprop, profenofos, terbufos and tribufos.

EarthJustice’s Sustainable Food & Farming program puts people on the ground to fight for healthier working environments for farmers and farm laborers. In this video as part of the Growing Change series (published 2016), Jim Cochran tells the story of why he made the pioneering choice to go Organic in the 90’s, and how his strawberry farming operation has evolved to provide care for his employees and their families.https://www.youtube.com/embed/WKR1jLgDhjw?wmode=opaque&enablejsapi=1

Every person working the land—from farmers to farm laborers—deserve the same access to safe working environment as the rest of us. After all, they are the folks responsible for making sure we’re fed.

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MORE PROFITABLE PER ACRE:

Selling organic is profitable—22-35% more profitable than conventional farming, according to a comprehensive study by Washington State University. Researchers David W. Crowder and John P. Reganold gathered data from 44 studies of 55 crops grown on 5 five continents spanning 40 years—in an attempt to prove the economic competitiveness of Organic farming vs. conventional.

The study found costs between running an organic and conventional farm are roughly even. Organic farmers don’t have to buy expensive synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, but they do spend more on labor costs (we call it reinvesting in the community through job creation and stability). So what gives organic producers the extra bump? They get a higher price when selling certified Organic crops. This “premium” is around 30% and has stayed roughly the same over four decades.

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HEALTHY CHICKENS MAKE FOR HAPPY FARMERS:

So how do chickens factor into Organic agriculture?

Growing chickens on Organic feed creates a need for Organic crops. Most chicken feed includes a blend of soy and corn meal—which make up 171.4 million acres of cropland in America. Only tiny fractions of those crops are grown Organically, but the rising demand for certified Organic food and products is creating opportunities for more and more farms to switch over.

We really enjoy growing these chickens for SVO because of the healthier environment. I also feel its healthier for us as growers to be free of all the chemicals and additives that were used in the [conventional] chicken. These organic chickens are definitely happier 🙂 and healthier, which makes it fun to grow them.

-Elsie Cline, Pine Grove Farm

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When it comes to the health and welfare of our fellow humans, it’s worth considering what ways going Organic is worth the investment. Click the links in this post as a starting point for further reading, and search out more reasons why going Organic is better for farmers.

At Farmer Focus we don’t just say we empower family farmers, we do it. That’s why we recently submitted comments to the USDA on the actions we believe are needed to support independent farmers.   

The Farmer Focus business model gives farmers ownership and empowers them to make better choices for their animals, farms, and the environment. Today we serve over 70 family farmers and we have more than 100 farms on our waiting list. Farmers want to farm with us because we do business differently. We may have farmers waiting to join our team, but we will not wait to promote and protect their interests.   

1. Independent Farmers Need Independent Suppliers

We believe farmer ownership of feed and birds purchased from independent suppliers is essential to fair competition. Most chicken farmers today don’t even own the birds or the feed on their farms, those things are supplied to them by large “integrators” who control the entire supply chain from start to finish. This offers farmers little to no control over the quality of bird or feed they receive, two of the most important inputs in raising healthy birds.  

Independent hatcheries and feed mills that supply farmers are becoming less common; this is a problem for smaller farmers as it drives up grain costs and makes it increasingly hard for them to secure eggs from hatcheries.    

We support USDA policy that supports more competition in farm inputs and relieves the financial burden of loss of choice for small farmers.  

2. Fair Pay

The Farmer Focus business model provides clear and transparent payment terms. We do this so that all of our farmers know their commitment and understand the risk vs. reward. Due to our unique business model, our farmers report that they make between 25-35% more farming with us than competitors. In a traditional model, farmers would compete against one another flock after flock for pay. In that model, someone wins, and many lose.   

Farmer Focus built a system that allows our farmers to work together, driving innovation and supporting our farmers’ desire to raise the best chicken possible. One of the largest burdens for our farmers is the entry cost to ownership. Due to our unique and organic model, it’s harder for our farmers to secure lending from banks and the USDA. We support legislation that would ease the entry-level burden for small farmers and provide USDA support for research on alternative farm models like ours.   

Like every business, recruitment and retention of employees in agriculture present challenges. It takes over 500 employees for us to support our current farm families. To further support our farming model, we need to meet our workforce needs in rural areas. Farmer Focus supports the policy that further develops USDA loans for housing in rural, low-moderate income communities. Additionally, we believe that USDA support for further training agriculture workers can have an oversized impact in these rural communities. We believe USDA support for programs that provide access to leadership training and management development in agriculture is direct support for farmers.

3. Sustainability & Transparency

We also believe the future of farming is sustainable. Protecting the environment means protecting our farmers’ ability to farm. That’s why we practice enhanced animal welfare on farms, reduce waste in our production facility through water and waste recycling, and are developing climate resiliency through new technologies. Our goal is to become a net carbon sink, using less carbon than we emit as we grow.  

We support USDA policy that helps grow organic grain production on US farms. There is currently a 2-year downtime for farms switching to organic with no financial support during that down period. Supporting organic grain production in the US is essential to cutting the carbon footprint of imported grains.  

At Farmer Focus we offer transparency in every package of chicken through our Farm ID system that allows you to trace your product back to the farmer that raised it. We support label clarifications from the USDA on labeling such as “Product of the USA” and “Family Farms”. We are working to build a company that can be trusted by farmers, customers, and the stores that carry our products. Those looking to use loose label guidelines to deceive are doing so at the expense of independent farmers.   

To view our USDA comments in full and learn more, visit: https://www.regulations.gov/comment/AMS-TM-21-0058-0443 

Corwin Heatwole, Founding Farmer & CEO

USDA Organic is one of the many certifications with standards that include animal welfare practices.
These are some of the ways going Organic can help provide a healthier and more natural living environment for chickens.

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NOT ADMINISTERED ANTIBIOTICS:

“Antibiotic-free” (ABF), is a package claim showing up in grocery store meat cases more frequently these days—what gives?

When animals are treated with the same antibiotics that are used in human medicines, bacteria like salmonella and E.coli can build a resistance to these ‘medically-important” antibiotics—making it harder to treat humans who do become infected.

Getting ahead of the possibility for these “superbugs” to build stronger resistance to human medicines is on the minds of many.

Clearly, antibiotic use in animal agriculture is huge, and as the FDA and CDC and WHO all agree, much of it is unnecessary. Data collection is important. But, because resistant bugs quickly adapt, we can’t afford to wait for data to take action to reduce antibiotic use wherever possible.

– William T. Grant
Foundation Distinguished Fellow
Food Systems and Public Health
at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health

Organic farming is on the front lines of this movement by prohibiting the use of antibiotics in livestock. If animals require antibiotics, they’ll be separated from the rest of the group and treated (it’s humane to care for sick animals)—but they will not be sold as Organic. However, farmers and organizations have worked together to better understand how to keep their flocks from getting sick in the first place. It’s not a simple task, and it requires farmers to take great care of their operations (like keeping the houses at a low density, replacing the bedding between each flock, giving access to the outdoors), but these extra steps result in an overall healthier and happier living environment for the birds.

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STRONGER IMMUNE RESPONSE:

Feeding flocks an Organic diet might be a contributing factor to why these birds are able to fight off disease without the use of antibiotics.

A comprehensive study published by the British Journal of Nutrition in 2010 gave insight to a measured difference between chickens fed Organic or conventional feed. It was observed that Organically fed chickens have lower body weights, higher immune reactivity, and stronger catch-up growth after infections.

When talking about these two together (Organic and antibiotic-free), it’s important to note that Organic always means antibiotic-free, but antibiotic-free doesn’t always mean Organic. Just like all chickens are birds, but not all birds are chickens.

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MORE ACTIVE AND PLAYFUL:

While conventional chicken houses are low-lit with LED lights and sealed shut, the USDA Organic standards call for year-round sunlight through windows along the side of the houses, and regular access to pasture. It’s not hard to understand how outdoors and sunlight might play a role in encouraging active and playful behavior for any animal.

Pleasant Hill Poultry has moved their operation to Organic after conventional farming for 30 years. They’ve noted some big differences in flock behavior after converting their chicken houses to meet Organic standards:

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I can see a huge difference between the characteristics of organic vs conventional birds. The organic birds are much more alert and playful. They seem to play more and are generally more active. They also seem to really enjoy spending time outside when the weather is applicable. I believe it’s a combination of a healthy diet and a quality living environment.

– Farmer Jason, Pleasant Hill Poultry

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INCREASED OVERALL HEALTH:

These are some of the ways going Organic can help support a healthier quality of life for everyone involved. Living in houses that are clean, with access to fresh air and sunlight, high-quality feed and high-quality care makes a difference in the lives of chickens, and their human caretakers. It’s a win-win-win-win in our book.

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When it comes to the health and welfare of farm animals, it’s worth considering what ways going Organic is worth the investment. Click the links in this post as a starting point for further reading, and search out more reasons why going Organic is better for the birds.

Going Organic is not only better for your body—it’s better for the planet. Organic production practices have a number of benefits for all of us who call Earth our home.

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LESS WASTE WATER RUNOFF:

Agricultural runoff is a major problem for farming and rural communities across the globe.

When fields are tilled and fertilized with manure or synthetic fertilizers, the top layer of that soil (and the nutrients in the fertilizer) is too-easily washed away in the rain. Heavy rainfall creates a nutrient-rich runoff, that pours into nearby streams and lakes and feeds plant life at an amazing rate. In this process called eutrophication, the rapid growth of plant life cause the oxygen levels in the water to plummet—and the inhabitants are suffocated.

To combat this destructive cycle, Organic farmers have a low or no-till policy—a method that has proved to have many lasting benefits. Without heavy tilling, soil retains more moisture, cycles nutrients, cultivates land that is more drought-resistant, and limits the amount of erosion—which keeps nutrients in the soil where they belong.

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MORE CARBON STORAGE IN THE SOIL:

A number of studies revealed that Organic soil carbon contents are considerably higher as compared to conventional farming.

This is a result of Organic agricultural practices which increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favoring carbon storage:

  • minimum tillage—returning crop residues to the soil
  • the use of cover crops and crop rotations
  • integration of organic materials such as composts or manure
  • the greater integration of nitrogen-fixing legumes

Why is carbon storage important? Soil organic carbon, or “SOC”, is the basis of soil fertility. It releases nutrients for plant growth, promotes the biological and physical health of soil, and is a buffer against harmful substances.

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INCREASES SOIL PRODUCTIVITY:

Rodale Institute is an organization that has been gathering research about soil health since 1947. Their studies have proved that in addition to large stores of carbon, healthy soil is teeming with a community of healthy bacteria, fungi, algae, protozoa, nematodes, and other tiny tiny creatures. The diversity of this below-ground eco-system works together as a natural defense against disease and pests—allowing plants to grow to their maximum productivity. This eco-immune system is far healthier and sustainable for the plants than off-farm supplements like fertilizers and pesticides.

Visit the Rodale Institute website for a closer look at how this system works!

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LESS ENERGY NEEDED:

Growing crops takes energy, and there’s no way around that.

Farmers use fuel to power their agricultural equipment—tractors, sprayers, and combines just to name a few. Conventional growers also use large amounts of nitrogen-rich synthetic fertilizers, which take large amounts of energy to produce, and even more energy to spread it over the fields. And to top it off, more energy is needed to produce and spread the hundreds of gallons of pesticides and herbicides needed for conventional agriculture to be sustained.

Prof. David Pimentel of Cornell University published an in-depth study in 2006, which found Organic farms use up to 20% less energy than conventional farms. Organic agricultural methods use sustainable practices, like harnessing and relying on solar energy, and saving on costs for those expensive synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

These savings are even greater depending on the crops being farmed. In a case for corn grown in Pennsylvania, Prof. Pimentel found that Organic farming used 31% less energy versus conventional (while also producing higher yields during drought years). Additionally, if just 10% of corn grown in the United States were grown Organically, it would generate a national savings of up to 4.6 million barrels of oil a year.

If you’re a pure numbers kind of person, you can see how those kinds of energy costs can affect a farmer’s overall income per crop yield. Heavy reliance on the availability of cheap energy is truly betting the farm.

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FEWER AIR POLLUTANTS:

By now you’re familiar with the conventional practice of spraying herbicides and pesticides on fields, and we all know farms aren’t sealed in an air-tight facility. These chemicals can spread into nearby environments—a process commonly referred to as “spray-drift”. And it works just the way it sounds.

Spray-drift is a threat to an area’s biodiversity. Along with destroying unwanted varieties of bugs that munch on crops, pesticide spray-drift unintentionally reduces the population of other insects—dangerously pulling at the threads of the ecosystem.

In contrast, an environment free of pesticides and herbicides attracts pollinators… which attract other small animals… which bring larger predators to the area; creating a balanced, cohesive ecosystem.

According to Dr. Gerold Rahmann, of the Institute of Organic Farming under the German Ministry of Nutrition and Agriculture, the maintenance of natural areas within and around organic fields and the absence of chemical inputs create suitable habitats for wildlife.

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When it comes to the health of our planet, it’s worth considering what ways going Organic is worth the investment. Click the links in this post as a starting point for further reading, and search out more reasons why going Organic is better for planet Earth.