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How Two Brothers from Missouri Built the Largest Independent Free-Range Egg Operation in America

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A tall, bespectacled man pushing a baby stroller approaches Stanton Brothers Eggs at the Columbia Farmers’ Market in Columbia, Missouri. It’s a booth right near the entrance clearly designated by a plastic-coated, chicken-patterned tablecloth and two large, plush chickens affixed to the top corners of its canopy.

He speaks quickly: “Do you feed your chickens corn? I know corn is often genetically modified.” His matter-of-fact tone suggests he’s ready to write off the eggs completely, as if he’s assuming an answer other than what Dustin Stanton, 22, gives him.

Dustin politely explains that his chickens are fed milo, or grain sorghum. He and his younger brother, Austin, 18, grow and mix it themselves. Milo isn’t genetically modified.

The customer is sold. He’ll take a dozen. Dustin makes casual conversation as he makes change, while Austin quickly replaces the just-sold eggs with a new dozen. Going on nine seasons, the young men have it down to a science.

[Feast Magazine]