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C. Oregon avoids nation's organic egg shortage

By Femi Abebefe
Published On: Feb 28 2014 09:23:53 PM CST

NewsChannel 21's Femi Abebefe met with grocers and farmers to see how the nationwide organic egg shortage is affecting the High Desert.

REDMOND, Ore. -

Nationwide, organic egg shortages caused by a shortage in organic chicken feed are driving up prices for farmers and consumers. The shortage has left organic egg shelves empty at grocery stores across the nation.

With a high demand for the eggs, it can be a struggle to keep up.

Ray Marden started farming in Hawaii, and has been farming in Central Oregon for a year now. One of the reasons he moved to the area is because of how difficult it was to get the organic feed.

"There's just so much of the commercially produced big label stuff out there that it can be a challenge, with the growing demand for the organic feeds, to actually find it," Marden said.

Consumer demands are also high, with many focusing on health in the new year.

"You want to get a jump start on the year, so you want to start eating healthy, and organic goes hand in hand with that," said Jason Valdez, Whole Foods Market marketing coordinator.

Marden makes his organic eggs available to retail stores, and currently spends $100 a month to feed 25 chickens.

"It's very difficult to make money doing things properly in agriculture, which I think is why we're so far away from the proper way of doing them," Marden said.

The chickens lay about 20 eggs a day during peak season, but in the cold month of December, they only laid three or four eggs a day.

"They are born with however many eggs they have in them, so you're essentially shortening the life cycle of the chicken by forcing those eggs out, and I’m not really into that," Marden said.

Whole Foods Market hasn't seen a shortage during the off-season, and receives its eggs from a farm in Washington state.

"The Stieber Egg Farm sources organic food in our nation, so they're not really purchasing the large amounts of food from other areas, like Argentina and China," Valdez said.

Marden said he doesn't farm organically for the money, but because he feels it's his responsibility as a food producer.

"If you don't love food, if you don't love sitting at the table with your family and enjoy high-quality food, I question the point of being an organic farmer," Marden said.

The peak season for chickens to lay eggs is the summertime, which should bring down the price of organic eggs.

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