by: Kristin Evenrud, Meat Buyer
In the spring of 1952 Dwight and Melva Gerber started a business in Akron, OH butchering 30 chickens a week from Amish farmers and distributing the chickens and other fresh produce along a small route. Today, Gerber Poultry is a huge player in the natural food market, selling their poultry in 18 states. We are very happy to offer Gerber’s Amish-raised chicken at the Oneota Co-op. While their operation is now large, processing 650,000 birds per 5-day week, they have maintained a strict philosophy of how to raise delicious and nutritious chicken. Gerber’s is now in the third generation of family running the business, and this generation is just as dedicated as Dwight and Melva.
Gerber’s line of fresh chicken products is recognized by consumers and retailers for excellence in taste and quality. A fact that the company attributes to feeding its chickens an antibiotic-free all-vegetarian diet of all-grain feed blended with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and vegetable fats. In fact, Gerber’s have a letter of guarantee on their website (www.gerbers.com). Here are some highlights: “Our claims include raising chickens with a specialized feed formula that makes the chicken naturally better tasting and tender as compared to other brands. The feed and water program includes: NO meat or bone meal; NO fishmeal; NO bakery by-products; NO medicinal growth stimulants; NO antibiotics; NO hormones and NO additives containing arsenic or arsenic compounds. The feed formula is composed of a cereal grain and vegetable oil base with additional vitamins, minerals and amino acids added to aid in digestion and to provide proper balance for the chicken’s dietary needs. The chickens are raised on family farms in Ohio’s largest Amish community. These Amish farmers tend to the chickens and provide excellent care. The buildings are large spacious barns providing plenty of room to roam. Fresh air, feed and water are always readily available. The comfort of the chicken is important; they receive constant attention as they grow. Gerber Poultry has on file a letter of guarantee from our feed manufacturer stating that no antibiotics or medications are added to the feed. We also keep on file letters of verification from each farmer which states that no antibiotics or medications have been administered through either feed or water for any flock packed under the trademarked GERBER’S “Real Amish” Farm Country Chicken name. The Amish and Mennonite farms that raise the chickens are all located within 30 miles of the processing plant. These chickens have minimal miles on them until they get on the truck to come to your table.”
“Des es goudt hingle” it says on the bright yellow package. Have you wondered what that means? It is the phrase that the Amish farmers say about their chickens. It means “this is good chicken,” and they really believe that because they know the chickens ate good all natural feed and were given special care while on their farm.
The Oneota Co-op meat department offers fresh and frozen boneless and skinless breast and thighs as well as whole chickens. Look for your favorite cut today. A company can be large and still maintain responsible growing techniques. Gerber’s is just such a company. Check out their website www.gerbers.com for their whole story.
Water Street Café (formerly Oneota Deli) currently uses Gerber’s chicken in many of the tasty hot bar dishes as well as the oven roasted chickens you can take home to your table.
Local chicken is also available in the Meat Dept. Dale and Margaret Suhr have been farming for 47 years and have been in the chicken business for the last 15 years. They raise Cornish Cross on a free-range farm outside of Calmar. They are all natural, antibiotic-free and are supplemented with a commercial feed. We carry his wonderful plump, all natural whole chickens in the freezer.
Yogurt Marinated Chicken
1-2 cups yogurt (I used the drinkable Organic Valley Yogurt)
2 T ground oregano
2 T smoked paprika
1 T garlic powder
2 T lemon juice
Coat chicken with marinade mixture and refrigerate for a few hours. Heat grill thoroughly and place chicken breasts on the hot grill. I suggest grilling 8-10 minutes per side. For a more precise doneness, use a food thermometer. Chicken breast is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
This chicken serves well with a side of sauteed zucchini, tomato, garlic, onion and crimini mushroom, a tossed salad and Waving Grains toasted sourdough bread. Yum!