Mad Hatcher Poultry
Bernie Nash is a chicken farmer. We are honored to work with him via Mad Hatcher Poultry, based in Ephrata, WA, about a two and a half-hour drive East of Seattle. Bernie is exceptional in the sense that he has lived and built a body of work studded with the experience of doing things (exceptionally challenging things, objectively speaking) that did not guarantee him ease as time went on.
Instead, his were efforts that ultimately might payout in more nuanced ways; the pursuit of better flavor and higher standards.
And without much context, that may seem anecdotal. So allow us to frame the narrative:
The vast majority of chickens raised for meat in the US are a breed known as a Cornish Cross. From an objective sense, you could make a pretty strong case for how remarkably efficient the Cornish Cross is…
But let's examine efficiency: Maximum productivity, with an input of minimum wasted effort.
When commodity markets have to assess the efficiency of living things, we have a pretty solid track record to draw from. The status quo, however, is bleak. In a large-scale commercial sense, factoring in livelihood is rarely done, because a sense of morality stands in opposition to removing "life" from the equation. So someone like Bernie Nash operates in the only place the current status quo allows for: the margins.
And from another uniquely important, though rarely entertained perspective:
In terms of efficiency… what about flavor?
Unfortunately, the majority of the food we consume, especially in the commodity and prepared food markets--think, pre-made options, shelf-stable foods, and big-chain grocery stores with house brands--is put through a rigorous assessment of efficiency, and flavor is usually among the first of the attributes to find itself on the chopping block when considering how to guide hybridization.
The presiding commercial agenda has little room for nuance (frankly, an embarrassing word to describe something as remarkable as flavor. 1 of the 5 senses that the human nervous system has developed to perceive the world around us depends on this). Nuance gets squeezed out by perishability, volume, and broad-demographic-appeal, all of which is so much more fiscally heralded.
In direct opposition to the breeds of chickens developed to produce more eggs, while eating less (and less diverse) food, and with looser mandates around movement and social conditions, farmers like Nash manage flocks of birds from stock that simply require better-living conditions. Conditions that have far less wiggle room regarding which human assesses it; it simply is a fact that a bird-like a chicken benefits from a complex and diverse diet, and has evolved to run around outdoors, conducting chicken-esque behavior!
And these things have all been nearly written off entirely and encoded in branding loopholes like Natural and Free-range.
So, when a farmer conducts themselves by a rubric of best practices which honor the life they are choosing to steward, and to value the way humans might engage in the moral contract of eating animals, we take note.
To recognize that the current status quo does not align with how we would like to approach growing food, and instead we would like to pursue something which might afford people the chance to eat food and truly share in a moving and pleasurable experience… with Flavor at the heart of it…
In fact, from where we stand, it is the very ethos that Bernie Nash champions. And that is why we are so remarkably proud to work with him and sell his eggs. Hopefully, soon we will have the option to sell his amazing meat birds too.