NC chicken auction touts healthier poultry

By Bob Townsend - bio | email

WHITEVILLE, NC  (WECT) - As many people are looking to going green, they are also seeking ways to eat healthier by choosing foods that is organically grown -- free of hormones and chemicals.

Once a month, Whiteville sells poultry that, some people say, is much healthier for you than what you will find in the grocery store freezers.

It's not hard to miss hearing the chant of auctioneer, Libby Brown Saturday mornings as he auctions off chickens.

John Paul Smith runs a feed store and mill in Whiteville.  Because he sells so many young chicks, or biddies in the spring, someone mentioned to him that a chicken auction was needed, and he agreed to begin one.

On the first Saturday of each month, shortly after the sun comes up, Smith sets up tables and chairs in the empty parking lot across from his feed store.  He hires the auctioneer and puts up three folding tables for people to bring in cage after cage of chickens for them to be sold, and eventually for many, wind up as a family meal.

"It is all natural, there are no chemicals in them, just corn and soybeans with a little salt," said Smith.  "So all of the animal raised here.  It is a big difference in the taste."

Brown will auction off more than just chickens. Turkeys, dove, pheasants, guineas, and even rabbits were on the auction block last weekend.

Smith estimates that there are roughly 30,000 chickens being raised in Columbus County right now, as a natural food source.

"If you cook pork chops or chickens, one of these chickens right here, you can actually smell them," said Smith.  "You don't have to open the lid to look and see what it is in the pan.  It makes a big difference.  They buy 30 or 40, next time 50 or so, then they will come and sell some, when they need decent money.  It gives something for the families to do, so it does very well."

The auction is a throwback to days gone by, when instead of running to the supermarket to buy poultry products, chickens were raised on the farm.

Smith took an old milling company that was suppose to be torn down, turned it into a farm supply store, and has become the operator of a growing chicken auction.  It is an auction which has provided a way to many people to still enjoy poultry, not only for the eggs but chicken, but just like Mom served it up on the dinner table years ago.

The next auction will be held in Whiteville beginning just after sunrise on the morning of November 6.

Copyright 2010 WECT. All rights reserved.