outstanding in the field, and the question of the egg

Have you ever wondered whether organic eggs taste better than conventional eggs from the supermarket? I have. I’ve read varying accounts over the past couple of years, and after reading different opinions, I’m still not sure if the taste truly differs. But one thing is certain. I feel better eating an egg from a chicken that was raised humanely and with as little human-mucking-around as possible.

I’m pretty sure that a happy chicken will lay a happy, good-tasting egg. But what I’m certain of is that I’ll feel better about eating that particular egg from that particular chicken.

Which brings us to Sunday night.

the table

Some months ago, I read about a unique event that has taken place at farms across the country, and I was intrigued. The concept is a farm dinner, and the mission of Outstanding in the Field is to bring people closer to the source of their food. Most of the events were initially in California, where the chef-owner lives, but over the last several years, OITF has brought their dinner events to farms all across the country – and even to Europe.

A dinner was held this past Sunday night at Lake Meadow Naturals farm in Orlando. Lake Meadows Naturals is a farm that produces cage-free poultry, with grassy pastures filled with chickens of different breeds, geese, ducks, guinea fowl, and turkeys. And, although they aren’t renowned for their non-poultry animals, there were even a couple of cows, a handful of goats, and several bunnies on hand, destined for someone’s dinner table in the months to come.

the laying hens

We had the pleasure of attending this dinner. Under the winter central Florida sky, my husband and I dined on local proteins and vegetables, while Lake Meadow Naturals’ chickens clucked in the background, and the native wood ducks swooped in at sunset to steal their feed.

It was glorious.

And while I’ll never answer the organic versus conventional chicken egg question, I can tell you this…eating dinner on the farm where the proteins were raised?

Nothing quite compares to that.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

[The photos below are linked to my Flickr account. Click through them for more information about each photo. ]

drinks are served.

before dinner

a predinner glass of vino

mingling

before dinner

the local distillery has a presence

sampling a cocktail

rose

turkeys

leah and jim

the dinner plates

how now brown cow

farmer dale

grits cake

a procession of ducks

the table

with jim

more teeny tiny oranges

farm dinner scene

hens and their rooster

farm tour with farmer dale

farm kitty

hens

the kitchen crew

menu

farm dinner-35

rosé

chef tony adams

appetizer

farm dinner-39

at sunset

farm dinner

sunset, moonrise

*   *   *   *   *

Outstanding in the Field was founded by California chef and artist, Jim Denevan. If you ever have the opportunity to attend an OTIF event, I highly recommend it.

Lake Meadow Naturals is in Ocoee, Florida – right outside of Orlando proper. If it were not 2 hours away, I’d drive there weekly for fresh eggs and the occasional roasting chicken. In fact, when they open their u-pick egg coops, I plan on bringing the kids down to pick their own farm-fresh eggs.

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26 Responses to “outstanding in the field, and the question of the egg”

  1. Nutmeg Nanny — January 9, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

    This meal looks amazing! The place where we are getting married does dinners like this once a week in the summer. I have been dying to attend. After looking at your pictures I know I need to go!

  2. Dawn — January 9, 2012 @ 9:41 pm

    Lake Meadow Naturals is a magical place, isn’t it. Love Dale in his overalls, and love that he raises chix without soy, too. It’s the only place I know of that has soy free eggs 🙂

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:07 am

      Yes, you’re right! I wish I lived closer so I could buy his eggs regularly.

  3. Gail — January 9, 2012 @ 9:43 pm

    So beautiful, MJ. Your photos tell a wonderful story. xoxo

  4. Chris — January 9, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

    Fantastic post and a wonderful event. But the best picture of all is that cat. I swear the look on his face is saying, “I BLEEPing hate those chickens and ducks. All in my face but if I try to attack just one, I get in trouble.”

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:06 am

      I think you’re right about that cat!

  5. Macaroni Mama — January 9, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

    Your photographs tell it all. Beautiful! Especially, the moon on the horizon . . . plus the chickens.

  6. Barbara | Creative Culinary — January 9, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

    This looks like a wonderful, almost magical experience. I think that maybe sometimes all we can do is enlighten our experience and become more aware of just how our food is prepared for us; I know it sounds perfect but in truth how do we feed 300,000,000 people in a similar idyllic way? My hope would be that no matter the method, on a bucolic family farm or in a larger mass produced industry that respect be paid to every lowly creature for the service they provide to feed us and our families.

    I love the photo of the table from the end; it looks like it goes on forever. Talk about the family table!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:06 am

      Barb – I completely agree. It all comes down to treating our food – and food sources – with respect and integrity.

  7. Renee — January 9, 2012 @ 11:37 pm

    I’ve always wanted to have my own chicken so I can just collect eggs out of my backyard. I can’t wait until I have an actual backyard.

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:05 am

      I hear you. We have a small backyard but it’s in a neighborhood. I’m pretty sure our neighbors would complain if we had even one chicken.

  8. Kathryn — January 10, 2012 @ 4:13 am

    I just love your pictures in this post, they capture the mood so perfectly. It sounds like a really wonderful event to attend.

  9. Paula- bell'alimento — January 10, 2012 @ 8:57 am

    Love. Love. Love. I’m hoping to attend a similar event myself close to home. Also have BIG plans to increase my own garden this year (and then to figure out how I could get a cow, goats in my backyard without having the neighbors see ; )

  10. Kathy - Panini Happy — January 10, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

    I’ve been looking forward to these pics! The event looks just as magical and fantastic as I’d imagined. They do one about an hour away from us every year – I so can’t wait to go!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

      Kathy, you absolutely MUST go. Even though it’s pricey, it’s so worth it. I would go again in a heartbeat.

  11. Paula — January 10, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

    I love this concept and the fact that the idea is growing around the world. Your photos are just beautiful. Talk about a field of dreams!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — January 10th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

      Thank you, Paula!

  12. pam — January 10, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

    I was there and it was to amazing. I posted some of my pictures here…
    http://pamwares.blogspot.com/2012/01/weekend-to-remember.html

  13. Brian @ A Thought For Food — January 10, 2012 @ 10:24 pm

    I do love happy eggs! I’ve been able to taste a difference… subtle richness that I don’t find in conventional eggs.

    Lovely post, darling!

  14. Marla — January 11, 2012 @ 12:36 am

    I have wanted to attend one of these events. OITF is such a great way for people to get to know local farmers and other folks with similar interests. Love all the photos too!

  15. Annalisa Khaw — January 14, 2012 @ 10:16 pm

    I am really kicking myself for not going now! Next year for sure!

  16. Bob — January 15, 2012 @ 9:17 am

    We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and met some great folks. Many of our pics are so similar…thankfully you got more of the food…we were too busy eating to photograph the food! LOL. Thanks.

  17. Aggie — January 26, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    What an absolutely beautiful event! Your photos are gorgeous…as is the scenery.

    I wish I could have made it to this…maybe one day. Thank for sharing it with us

  18. Sunny — February 7, 2012 @ 7:11 pm

    We love Outstanding in the Field, from concept to execution. We attended an event near Portland OR last year and had a wonderful time. I’ll also add–as a chicken owner–that YES the eggs taste better and boy do they take baking to a whole new level! The egg whites are firmer and the yolks are richer when they’re from your own backyard, plus I know what my chickens eat so I know what I’m eating. Chickens are also pretty fun pets, they’re much nicer and more social than I thought they would be. They’re also low maintenance and earn their keep…can’t say that about our other pets! Thank you for sharing all the wonderful pictures and your experience. I hope more and more people participate in farm-oriented food events, it’s so important to support our local farmers!

  19. Vanessa — December 13, 2012 @ 11:30 am

    Thank you do much for reviewing the event! I was hesitant to go to the 2013 date but thanks to all your beautiful words and photos I’m sold on attending! 🙂

  20. Pingback: The Merry Gourmet silent sunday: outstanding in the field - The Merry Gourmet

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