Sell a Dozen, Give a Dozen

A New York food company is making organic eggs attainable for all.
Organic eggs are expensive, but not with a new buy-one, give-one model. (little blue hen/Creative Commons)
Oct 11, 2011
Megan Bedard is a sucker for sustainable agriculture and a good farmers market, she likes writing about food almost as much as eating it.

In 2006, Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina, where he met and befriended many Argentinian children who didn't own shoes. Determined to solve the problem, he founded a company that would donate a pair of shoes each time it sold a pair. That company has become the ubiquitous TOMS Shoes. To date, the company has put shoes on the feet of thousands of children.

Flash forward five years and meet Dean Sparks, a food producer in New York. While reading Mycoskie's book Start Something That Matters, the organic farmer saw a flicker of inspiration for one of his own goals: scaling up organic food consumption in New York.

Six years ago, Sparks founded his egg and dairy company, NYFoods, with fellow New York farmer Dan France. The two agreed that food should be wholesome, nutritious, tasty, and good for animals and the Earth. Since then, they've worked to educate New Yorkers about the benefits of organic food. The TOMS Model seemed promising to Sparks.

Taking the buy-one, give-one model to the food market, Sparks and France are now testing its potential at Mott Haven Farmer's Market in the South Bronx, reports Civil Eats. Working with food distributor Regional Access, they're sending dozens of free eggs home with farmer's market patrons.

Like TOMS Shoes, NY Food's model relies on its for-profit business. Adriana Velez at Civil Eats explains:

The company selects only extra-large eggs for the cartons sold for a premium at stores like Whole Foods. But those pastured hens are also laying smaller eggs–a bit too small for retail but still high-quality and nutrient-dense. The smaller eggs would otherwise be sold as egg whites, but NYFoods is distributing them for free.

Will it work on a larger scale? Time will tell. But for now, few at the market are complaining, including other vendors. Free eggs draw in customers, and who can balk at that?

Photo: little blue hen/Creative Commons via Flickr
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