Chicken Island – Coop de Ville: Part One

chickens JanI am one of the leaders of Slow Food Martha’s Vineyard and on August 4th, Slow Food MV will host The Coop de Ville Tour. This is the celebration of the local egg and chicken-raising on Martha’s Vineyard. We at Slow Food MV believe that what we do best is to bring educational experiences that raise awareness.

In preparation for The Coop de Ville Tour, there has been a lot of questions and conversations about egg production on Martha’s Vineyard. You could actually say that we have opened a can of worms on this subject in preparing for our upcoming Coop de Ville…

Here, I begin to demystify chicken-raising, eggs and egg production. Slow Food MV recently launched Slow Food MV GMO Free, which is a campaign to bring the awareness of Genetically Modified Organism (GMOs) to our community and to work towards labeling foods that contain GMOs.

The GMO question arises in eggs because some farmers are feeding their chickens on conventional grains which cannot trace and do not label GMOs. Most of the non-organic grain in conventional grains is most likely contaminated with GMO. This is most certain if the feed grain is corn. Some grains (barley, oats, etc.) and some proteins (sunflowers) are available as non-GMO because no one has yet made a GMO version. Because we do not require testing on the organic grains, it may be accurate to say that most of the organic grain could be contaminated to some degree with GMOs. This may be especially true when we do not know the source of our grains. However, many organic farmers do know their sources. Studies conclude that animals that are fed grain that contain GMOs transfer to organs, blood and tissue of the animal that eats GMOs.

(We are what we eat and what they eat!)

Eggs (and meat) are tricky because, MOST of the farmers on MV are not feeding their chickens (or animals) organic grain, so therefore these eggs are most likely contaminated with GMOs. Slow Food takes a hard stand about GOOD, CLEAN AND FAIR:

The Good, Clean and Fair principal:

• Good: Food that is created from healthy plants and animals.

• Clean: Food that is clean and is harvested using methods that have a positive impact on our planet.

• Fair: Food that is fair is accessible to all regardless of income.

GMOs are not Good, Clean or Fair.

When we buy eggs, it’s good to know how the chickens are raised and what the chickens are eating. This goes back to the “Know Your Farmer” campaign, which is all about knowing the practices of your farmer and then making the decisions in the best possible way that we can. Farmers create their growing practices based on many factors and what is good for one farmer, may not work for another, but knowing creates community. These understandings allow us to work with our farmers to support him or her to bring about the changes we would like to see. In working with them, we can initiate conversation about what we can do for them:

An example might be: “I’ll buy 100 pounds of kale the month of September, if you grow lacinato (dinosaur) kale.”


“I’ll buy all of my eggs from you for $8.00 a dozen and I will buy 2 dozen a week in the summer and one dozen a week the rest of the year.”

Photo Credit: Betsy Corsiglia

Read on in Part Two…

Leave a Reply

Kitchen Porch Catering | Martha's Vineyard | 508-645-5000