Chickens came before other animals — sheep, goats, pigs, ducks and turkeys — on the Salch family's Sams Valley farm.
And eggs — eaten at every meal — came before most other foods when the Salches made drastic dietary changes to improve their children's health.
"We basically created an entire farm just to feed our own family," says Dave Salch.
Three years since the genesis of Little Sprouts Farm, eggs remain one of its most important products, available for purchase by farm members and delivered directly to their doorsteps. Priced at two to three times of grocery-store counterparts, the virtues of Little Sprouts eggs are almost too numerous to list on a label. Among them are: organic, pasture-raised, heritage-breed, soy-free, fertilized and unwashed.
"Our eggs are all of the above," says Salch.
Consumed at the Salch home in daily quantities of seven to 10 dozen, eggs dress salads, thicken soups, enrich raw milk for eggnog and, of course, constitute much of every morning's breakfast. Eggs, particularly yolks, from pasture-raised hens are a key component of the Gut and Psychology Syndrome Diet, which the Salches have followed for about three years. Devised by British neurologist Natasha Campbell-McBride to treat neurological and psychiatric patients, GAPS also is used to boost the body's gastrointestinal and immune systems.
"We're realizing some tremendous benefits from this diet," says Salch. "Eating good food and letting the body heal actually work."
A 50-year-old "computer guy," Salch says he thought his family previously ate well because they purchased whole-grain breads and other mainstream foods billed as healthful. But when their children started ailing shortly after moving to Southern Oregon five years ago, Salch and wife Brenda wouldn't accept prescription medications for autism spectrum and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorders as their only option.
While researching causes of tooth decay, the Salches connected with the Weston A. Price Foundation's local chapter. The foundation's emphasis on home cooking from scratch, including with plenty of high-quality fats, caused the Salches to take a closer look at the commercial food supply and make a disheartening discovery.
"The more we learned about it, we realized we can't buy food in the store," says Dave Salch, explaining that meat was most problematic, either because it was nutritionally compromised or the animals suffered inhumane treatment.
"Traditional farms is where you can create good food."
Little Sprouts’ hardy heritage breeds don’t require vaccinations or incur veterinarian bills, says Salch. The family's 10 acres sustain 40 sheep, 50 dairy goats, at least 10 pigs, 100 ducks, as many as 300 turkeys and the flock of 500 laying hens with roosters that produce about 200 eggs per day, fewer in winter.
Eggs became the first product that Little Sprouts sold when it started home delivery about two years ago. The farm's approximately 180 customers include families with young children and seniors with chronic health issues, says Salch. More than 20 products are for sale at http://littlesproutsfarm.blogspot.com with delivery on Saturdays.
Prices are not listed online because Little Sprouts, much like community-supported agriculture programs, relies on membership. A free membership gives Web users access to items such as eggs, honey, fermented vegetables and animal feed certified free of genetically modified organisms. A paid membership allows purchase of meat and raw milk, yogurt and kefir.
"I don't need everybody to buy everything," says Salch, explaining that Little Sprouts' variety ensures its appeal to just about anyone, even fans of the cultured beverage kobucha.
Nutritional therapist Summer Waters, a certified GAPS practitioner, cites Little Sprouts as "one of the many quality farms" in the area and its eggs as an ideal source of protein and healthful fats. Clients who thought they were allergic to eggs usually can consume them from organic, pasture-raised, soy- and corn-free hens after working with her to change their diets, adds Waters.
"It's one of my go-to snacks," she says. "It really is one of nature's perfect foods."
Little Sprouts Farm can be reached by phone at 541-826-4345, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email email@example.com.