It’sall inthe famıly
using the same greenhouse gas calculator to
estimate their current greenhouse footprint
and identify those practices that would be
the most likely to reduce the footprint in a
pragmatic way,” he says.
All 10 farms supplying Costco’s organic
eggs used the Cool Farm Tool during the past
year to examine their carbon footprint and
develop more environmentally friendly procedures. In late June, the group convened near
Portland, Oregon, to share findings and swap
ideas on improvements.
Discussion ranged from
smarter ways of transporting
feed to their farms to potential uses of chicken manure
for biochar, a type of charcoal that might be profitable
as a soil amendment.
All these topics might
offer insights for other farmers, Hamilton says.
“Some of the things
about transport, feed production, the handling of
manure, different places
where energy consumption
could be reduced—those are
all interesting and useful for
other kinds of producers,”
says Hamilton. “For example, some of the
feed sources for chickens are similar to feed
sources for dairy cows. So there are some lessons that can be shared.”
The Baker family has operated the
Soncrest Egg Co. in Gonzales, Texas,
for three generations.
Looking beyond chickens and eggs
If the push for sustainability works for
eggs, what about other foods? That’s an
increasingly critical question, says Sheri Flies,
an assistant general merchandising manager
in Costco’s corporate food department. A
growing demand for food from emerging
countries such as China and India, shrinking
resources, political instability and other fac-
tors make it more important than ever to find
ways for the Earth and its farmers to provide
for its habitants, perpetually.
Many foods, known as limited-resource
commodities, are part of our daily diets.
They include all kinds of nuts, coffee, organic
milk, fish and shrimp, vanilla, spices, cocoa,
olive oil and maple syrup, and they are grown
or produced everywhere from Africa to
Central America to Southeast Asia.
“Everything is a limited resource commodity or relies upon a limited resource for
its production,” says Sheri. “Demand is outstripping current supply, and as Costco continues to grow, we need to make sure that we
are sourcing our products in a responsible
way so that our members continue to receive
high-quality products and everyone in the
supply chain receives a fair return.”
This means going to the source to
understand the process from the beginning
to the end, developing long-term partnerships with the people in the supply chain
COSTCO HAS ESTABLISHED regional organic egg programs with egg producers around the country who
supply their local Costco warehouses with organic
eggs. Many of these producers are third- or fourth-generation farmers who have adapted their operations
to specialize in organic, cage-free chickens.
Here’s the list of suppliers.
Utah: Oakdell Egg Farms, Lewiston, Utah (www.
oakdell.com). The Woodward and Wright families have
operated this farm since 1908, when Cecil and Bertha
Woodward received 10 chickens as a wedding gift.
Bay Area: Den Dulk Poultry Farms (
poultry.com) and NuCal Foods (
Foods, led by the Gemperle family, is an agricultural cooperative of family-owned farms. San Diego: Chino Valley Ranchers, Arcadia, California (
www.chinovalleyranchers.com). The Nichols family is the fourth generation to operate the farm, which has been in business since 1953. Texas: Soncrest Egg Co., Gonzales, Texas. The Baker family is a third-generation husband, wife and aughter team. Many employees on the farm have been there for 20 years. Northeast: Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, Monroe, New Hampshire (
www.peteandgerrys.com). Current operators include Jesse Laflamme and Peter Stanton and others who are the extended family of arm founder Robert Ward. The farm began in the early 1900s and now partners with some 20 small family farms to provide sustainably produced organic eggs. Midwest: Herbruck’s Poultry Ranch, Saranac, Michigan (
www.goodeggproject.org), and Nature Pure LLC, Raymond, Ohio. The Herbruck family established their farm in 1958. Nature Pure is operated by the Lausecker family, which has owned the farm for 23 years. Southeast: L&R Farms, Pendergrass, Georgia (
www.landrfarmsinc.com). The Lathem family founded the farm in 1957 with 25,000 laying hens. They are adding an organic program to their operations.—TT
and helping to improve the yields and quality, Sheri says. Costco can do all of this most
directly with the products it creates under
its Kirkland Signature label.
“The issue of sustainability is some-
thing we think about for every Kirkland
Signature item: How can we make it better
for the member, how can we make it better
for the people or animals that produce it
and how can we make it better for the
environment?” Sheri says. “Our dream is
that our Kirkland Signature guarantee will
become synonymous not only with quality
and value but with sustainability.”
To that end, Costco has supported sus-
tainable programs in several areas, working
either directly with producers or in coopera-
tion with other organizations. This ranges
AUGUST 2011 ;e Costco Connection 25
from working with farmers in Guatemala to
grow green beans and sugar snap peas to
helping develop a robust vanilla farming
industry in Uganda (see “Case study: vanilla”).
At Wilcox Farms, adopting sustainable
farming practices is a matter of economics—
and more. The rolling farmland lies in the
shadow of majestic Mount Rainier, whose
melting snows feed the Nisqually River,
which winds through the farm. A healthy
salmon run populates the river. The family
sees itself not as owners of the picturesque
land, but as caretakers.
“From my generation’s standpoint, we
have a legacy,” says Chris Wilcox. “We are not
going to be the generation that sells the farm.
We are going to pass it on to the next generation and then the next. This is our legacy.” C