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SOURCE: Egg Company Locally Laid Turns Complaint Letter Into Lesson About Sustainable Agriculture ? Consumerist

Egg Company Locally Laid Turns Complaint Letter Into Lesson About Sustainable Agriculture
By Mary Beth Quirk January 23, 2015

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Having received our fair share of complaint letters over the years, we know how tempting it can be to fire back at critics with negativity — but because that doesn’t solve anything, we’ve learned it’s always better to catch those flies with honey when possible. And in that vein, egg company Locally Laid took a shopper’s complaint about its high prices and sexual innuendos and turned the whole thing into a positive lesson about sustainable agriculture, while offering up an apology for causing offense.

We’ve written about the cheeky egg company in the past for its feat of pulling off sassy puns with style, so it’s no surprise that it’s now taking advantage of a disgruntled customer’s handwritten letter to explain not only its innuendos, but why its eggs cost more than others in the grocery aisle.

“I find your name on your egg carton extremely offensive and your sexual innuendos in advertising them vulgar,” he writes. “Not only were they the highest price in the store but also worst in advertising.”

He adds that he’s going to share his concerns with the grocery store and his friends, writing that there’s “enough crudeness in the world without egg advertising adding to it.”

Locally Laid replied in an open letter this week that should serve as an example to every other company faced with a displeased customer, taking the time to explain first of all, why those eggs are so pricey.

After acknowledging the customer’s right to complain and thanking him for taking the time to handwrite his letter, Locally Laid’s “marketing chick” Lucie Amundsen goes on to outline the company’s reasons for its name and prices.

She starts with the most basic reason it’s called Locally Laid — the pasture-raised eggs are indeed, “laid locally” — and goes on to explain why that matters in the grand scheme of things.

“The average food product in this country travels some 1,500 -2,000 miles from farmer to processor to distributor to your plate,” Amundsen writes. “That’s a lot of diesel burned and C02 pumped in the air. Our cartons travel a fraction of those miles. We’ve turned down lucrative contracts that would have taken our eggs out of the area because of our environmental stance.”

As for the price, which Locally Laid claims isn’t the highest priced brand out there, the eggs cost more because the company “practices sustainable agriculture, a sector that does not enjoy large government subsidizes like commodity products do,” the open letter explains.

“We move fences all spring, summer and fall, and fill waterers and feeders; it’s incredibly demanding work to get birds out of doors. And it all costs more,” Amundsen explains.

She then goes into great detail about the company’s efforts in “Middle Agriculture” and the state of farming in the U.S. today. Which, agree with all the information provided (and there’s a lot of it, in a long yet worthwhile read) or not, but explaining it all after a customer complaint is an admirable effort.

And yes, there’s some cheekiness involved in Locally Laid’s punning, Amundsen admits.

“And I truly am sorry, we offended you. (I’d offer you one of our American-made “Local Chicks are Better “ t-shirts, but I don’t think you’d wear it.),” she adds.

But it’s worth it, Amundsen explains, if it gives the company a chance to explain itself to consumers who notice its products because of that same cheekiness.

“With that second look from a consumer, we educate about animal welfare, eating local, Real Food and the economics of our broken food system,” Amundsen writes.

Again, whether you buy your eggs from the farm next door or the factory farm miles away, that’s not the point. We just like when a company could ignore or pass off a consumer complaint and chalk it up to a loss, it instead takes the time to lay it all out there. Pun intended.

*Thanks to Consumerist reader Amy for the tip!

---------------

The REAL complaint filed by a consumer:

SOURCE: Open Letter to the Man offended by Locally Laid | Locally Laid Egg Company


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Company reply:

Dear Mr. (name withheld),

Thank you for reaching out to let us know your opinion of the Locally Laid Egg Company. Not enough of us stand up for what we believe and I appreciate the time it took to handwrite a letter. I also want to acknowledge your right to find our name vulgar and also to tell the grocery store owner and your friends your opinion that we are crude.

So having respectfully listened to you, I ask that you hear me out.

Here’s why we named our company, Locally Laid. First off, it’s completely demonstrative of what we are. We are the first pasture-raised egg company in the Upper Midwest providing you with eggs which are laid locally. More on the sassy part of the name in minute, but let’s look at local. It’s important.



The average food product in this country travels some 1,500 -2,000 miles from farmer to processor to distributor to your plate. That’s a lot of diesel burned and C02 pumped in the air. Our cartons travel a fraction of those miles. We’ve turned down lucrative contracts that would have taken our eggs out of the area because of our environmental stance. Plus, we plant a tree with every delivery we make to offset our minimal carbon footprint.

You commented that our eggs were expensive (though we’re certainly not the highest price brand in the marketplace). And, yes, they do cost more – that’s because Locally Laid practices sustainable agriculture, a sector that does not enjoy large government subsidizes like commodity products do. The egg industry is also highly consolidated and expensive to break into. There are just 192 companies that own 95% of the America’s laying hens, that’s compared to 2,500 companies in 1987.

Locally Laid is directly challenging the egg industry status quo. We move fences all spring, summer and fall, and fill waterers and feeders; it’s incredibly demanding work to get birds out of doors. And it all costs more.

However, we believe it’s worth it. Hens that forage and exercise on fresh pasture lay eggs with less fat and cholesterol and stronger yolk integrity.


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Salad-Eating Poultry Athletes


That’s why we call our girls Salad Eating Poultry Athletes. To do this, we sacrifice economies of scale by having small flock sizes (we call that Micro-brood) less than 3% of the numbers kept in a typical caged or cage-free operations where chickens never see the light of day. Lastly, our ladies don’t eat cheap: non-GMO corn grown in Northern Minnesota, high-end vitamins and soy protein. (Ca-ching!)

But we’re more than just free chickens, fed well. We’re champions of something called Middle Agriculture. This is the most stressed, least understood agricultural segment in America. Mid-sized farms, like awkward teens, don’t fit in anywhere. They tend to be too large to sell all they produce directly to the public (think farmer’s market or CSA) and way too small to romp with the big dogs of commodity markets.

As such, there are less of us mid-level producers every day. 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.

You might ask why this matters. Well for a lot of reasons, but especially for the 46-million Americans who live rurally. And I mean right now, not in some sepia-toned, yesteryear memory. When mid-sized operations go away, it doesn’t just affect one family, it dings ALL the regional ag-based industry: grain mills, feed stores, processing facilities and farm jobs. So there’s just a lot less money floating around a community. This erodes tax bases, which affects schools, roads and livability issues. As the Agriculture of the Middle Project puts it, the loss of mid-sized farms “threatens to hollow out many regions of rural America.”


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This is the difference between the “value chain” of mid-sized businesses working together versus “vertical integration” where all the links of the supply chain are owned by the same company, concentrating profits and power at the top.

So, here’s how we’re growing the Middle Ag sector. Locally Laid now partners with other mid-level farmers to produce eggs to our brand standards. Because we take on all the financial risk to find shelf space for these eggs, our farmers are able to do what they do best while fetching a fair price for their goods.

There’s been some real upsides to this in the small community of Henriette, Minnesota. There our partner farmers have commissioned tons of corn from their neighbors, buy implements from a nearby farm store and use a local mill to grind and store their grains. And because Locally Laid eggs are only sold regionally, all that retail income sticks around, too, all the while stamping down food miles. I can honestly say this community now enjoys a higher quality of living thanks to a public willing to pay more for a different kind of egg.

Of course, there’s more to be done. We’re always looking for more winter activities for our chickens as they break down bundles of hay waiting for warmer weather. (I wish I could teach them how to play Toss Across). We also have big dreams to diversify our farm with more animals and some organic crops. Also, we hope to build a pullet barn, which would allow us to raise our own chicks on our farm (as opposed to buying out-of-state birds at 18 weeks) and provide full-time employment to a farm hand.



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LoLa says, “Local Chicks are Better!”




So, to the point of your letter, I want to say you’re right. Our name, Locally Laid, is totally cheeky and pushes the envelope. And I truly am sorry, we offended you. (I’d offer you one of our American-made “Local Chicks are Better “ t-shirts, but I don’t think you’d wear it.)

But here’s why we risk your umbrage. When our perfect double entendre breaks through the media clutter in which we’re all steeped, we leverage it. With that second look from a consumer, we educate about animal welfare, eating local, Real Food and the economics of our broken food system.

We all vote with our food dollars every day and we respect your decision if our playful moniker keeps you from buying our eggs. It was just important to me that you understood everything that was going on behind that name.

Now I gotta ask, would you have learned all this if we were named Amundsen Farms?



Best regards & Be well,

lolalogo

Lucie B. Amundsen

Marketing Chick

Local Chicks are Better!



P.S.: Our book, Locally Laid, about starting our farm and middle agriculture will be out Spring 2016 with Penguin Books USA.

P.P.S: You can keep up with our farm antics at Facebook and Twitter
 

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Even whey they try to and succeed in being funny, these eco-nuts are still insufferable.
 

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Great story!
 

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Even whey they try to and succeed in being funny, these eco-nuts are still insufferable.
In their usual attitude, I would agree with you. But in this case, I side with the egg company. Instead of forming a PAC an lobbying for more laws about what kind of eggs we should or should not be allowed to eat, they went out and started a company, in the hopes that others would agree enough to support it.

Besides, fresh, free range organic eggs really do taste much better, richer.
 

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A lot of people make a career out of being offended.
If someone tells me I offended them I will do my best to offend them again only with more gusto.
 

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In their usual attitude, I would agree with you. But in this case, I side with the egg company. Instead of forming a PAC an lobbying for more laws about what kind of eggs we should or should not be allowed to eat, they went out and started a company, in the hopes that others would agree enough to support it.
Yeah, I agree with that, but the rhetoric is decades old and those decades have failed to produce any real evidence to support it. I'm just so sick of hearing how greedy corporate fat cats have lobbied the nutrients out of the soil to kill the water table so we all have to buy their vitamins but the plastic in the vitamin bottle is frying my spleen alive.
 

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A lot of people make a career out of being offended.
If someone tells me I offended them I will do my best to offend them again only with more gusto.
"I must not have offended you that badly, I'm, still standing."
 

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Well, I like it!!
 

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A lot of people make a career out of being offended.
If someone tells me I offended them I will do my best to offend them again only with more gusto.
I find that attitude offensive!


Or not ;)
 

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The Original complainant had some valid points in the perceived vulgarity of their marketing but I'm glad they took the time to address each point to clear up the confusion. That Said, I look at those people who are so easily offended as lacking in aspects of their lives. I will not sugarcoat things to spare your feelings. My thoughts are that if I have to soften things for you, you are weaker or lesser than I am. I don't believe in insulting people like that right off to bat.
 
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