Local Spotlight: Hattermann's Yard Eggs

WHAT: Farm-fresh eggs from a farmer who's turned out more eggs than a certain bunny.

It's not easy being an egg farmer. But it's what Leon Hattermann does best. He's seen the ups and downs of the egg economy: the celebrated growth in the '70s, the plunge in the '80s when the Heart Association condemned eggs as unhealthy, the resurgence in the '90s with the egg white craze, and the avian flu of the new millennium. He's been a door-to-door egg salesman, a commercial egg vendor, and a drive-in egg farmer. But he's tired of weathering the storms and trying to compete with the bigger outfits. Today he's content to pack up the fruits of his flock and peddle them at the market himself.

Hattermann's farm is running lean right now, producing about 40 dozen eggs per day. When the weather cools, he can get a hundred dozen easy. But that's okay, says the good-natured Hattermann -- he's just fine with his flock. And the flock is just fine, too. They roam free during the day as Hattermann himself collects the eggs. They eat a fortified mixture that's mostly corn meal, soybean meal and flax seed. And at night, they go carefully back into the roost to keep them safe from poachers and predators.

Every other year, Hattermann sends his eggs to the labs for testing. He's got all kinds of charts and graphs that will show you that his eggs have nearly double the amount of heart-healthy Omega-3s as the Eggland's Best you'll find in the grocery stores. They've also got more Vitamin E, and less fat. But what'll really catch your attention is the taste: the simple, unsoiled, fresh-as-a-summer-breeze taste of farm-fresh eggs that cook up fluffy and hit the spot fast.

I might have thought all eggs taste the same until I did a side-by-side comparison: Hattermann's farm-fresh eggs versus the grocery store eggs in my mom's refrigerator. Just like the man told me, they all look the same, but Hattermann's sure taste better. The delicious eggs-perience of a seasoned eggs-pert? Perhaps. Or just conscientious egg farming.

WHERE: You'll find the amiable Leon Hattermann selling his farm-fresh eggs for $3-$4 per dozen at the Urban Harvest farmers' market on Saturdays. He's got white eggs, brown eggs, green eggs and duck eggs. Can't make it to the market? You'll also find Hattermann's eggs on the menus at Catalan, Benjy's and Ruggles Green.

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