An Overview Of the Florida Central Heritage Poultry Classic Show
By Tom Seest
If you’ve never heard of this event, you’re probably wondering what it is and how to participate. Well, you’re not alone. This event has become a popular annual tradition for the Central Florida poultry industry. The competition is open to the public, and teams can register for free by visiting the website.
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Dale Volkert is a 4-H member who lives in Ocoee, FL. In 2000, he bought a piece of property and started raising cage-free chickens. He gave most of the eggs away to friends and family and sold some through Local Harvest. Dale raises the chickens without using antibiotics and feeds them a vegetarian diet. Since then, he has expanded his business by collaborating with Slow Food Orlando and other small growers in the area.
Dale grew up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. His father had bought him a flock of chickens in 1960 for a 4-H project. He began selling the eggs and soon discovered chefs were interested in purchasing them for their own kitchens. Today, Dale keeps over 3,000 chickens on his farm and sells them to local restaurants. He has a customer base that extends as far south as Miami.
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When Dale McLaughlin joined Slow Foods Orlando, he aimed to increase the visibility of Lake Meadow Naturals. Slow Foods is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting local food producers, and Dale’s involvement helped get his chickens and eggs onto the menus of local restaurants. Dale hopes that his participation in Slow Food Orlando will inspire other food producers to join the movement.
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Dale McLaughlin recently expanded the visibility of Lake Meadow Naturals by becoming a member of Slow Foods Orlando. This nonprofit organization aims to promote local food, including locally grown foods, by bringing awareness to local chefs and restaurants. Soon, more restaurants began to feature cage-free eggs on their menus, thanks to Dale’s efforts.
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The Florida Central Heritage Poultry Classic is the largest event for cage-free egg farmers in the country. This annual event is a great place to learn about the benefits of cage-free eggs and how you can help support local farmers. Dale started laying cage-free eggs at this event as a way to show his support for the industry and help raise awareness. Dale also enjoys promoting his products at local restaurants.
Though cage-free does not mean free, it does mean a freer life for the hens. Cage-free eggs are produced by laying hens that are not held in battery cages. Battery cages are the most cruel treatment of farm animals. Unfortunately, battery cages are still the predominant method of egg production in the US. In fact, only 29% of eggs sold in the US are produced by cage-free hens.
Cage-free eggs have many advantages over battery cages. They are better for the environment. The Humane League uses data and proven science to convince food manufacturers to phase out battery cages. In the United States, major food service providers and retailers have committed to phase out battery cages by 2026.
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