Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Not All Eggs Are Created Equal

Do the eggs you buy have bright yellow yolks and stand up tall in the frying pan or are they pale and runny?

Here's the difference:

Commercial Eggs are kept in small cages stacked on top of each other all their lives.  They lay their eggs on the wire and the egg rolls out the bottom and onto a conveyer or other contraption to gather the eggs.  Workers go through several times a day and remove the dead chickens who normally have very short life spans.  They are fed the cheapest grains possible that also contain antiobotics and chemicals like arsinec so that they stay awake longer and keep laying.

On the small farm a free-range hen is allowed some outside time to roam, eat bugs and dig in the dirt/grass.  Cage-Free means that they do not spend their lives in a tiny cage 24/7.  Many small farms have a variety of methods of allowing their hens to spend time out doors and to live a more 'normal' chicken life.  This all depends a great deal on the preditor situation the farmer may have on his farm.

So why are these eggs more expensive?
  • First of all, they lay fewer eggs because they are not stimulated to lay more than God originally created them to lay.  They also tend to lay the eggs everywhere so they are sometimes harder to find.
  • They are probably fed some outstanding organic and/or transitional grains like here on our farm.  Organic grains are not cheap but they are higher in nutritional value and are not Genetically Modified like all the grain in a commercial feed.
Don't be fooled, however, by the words 'free-range' or 'cage free' when found on your grocers shelf.  Since there is no regulations on these two words, unfortunately, some large eggs factories will push the envelope and cheat the system any way they can to get the most profit possible even though their defination of those words are far from the definition understood by discerning food buyers. 

This is why Grandma Farmer encourages you to purchase as much of your food as possible from local farmers that you know and trust.

So why bother driving further to buy a dozen eggs for $3 plus when you can purchase them for $.95?  Primarily you'll know that your eggs are fresh.  Most farmers will label their eggs with a 'gathering' date.  Eggs in stores are generally 2-4 weeks old when you purchase them.  Thus, the buzz word, "farm fresh".  Here are some additional reasons:

  • GMO (Genetically Modified Grain and Foods) are dangerous and not the healthy alternative Monsanto is pushing on you.  Read my recent post on the issue! There are plenty of books and articles on the net on this issue.  Become aware and push for Labeling of GMO foods like other countries and don't eat GMO foods.  Many countries now refuse to purchase food from the US because of the GMO issue.  They don't allow Monsanto to shove their seeds down their throats and have banned them from their countries (i.e. Peru and other countries).
  • Recently, Mother Earth News did an egg study comparing free-range eggs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs. The findings showed that free-range chicken eggs produced the following results:
    • 1/3 less cholesterol
    • 1/4 less saturated fat
    • 2/3 more vitamin A
    • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
    • 3 times more vitamin E
    • 7 times more beta-carotene
  • Free-range eggs contain 70% more vitamin B12 and 50% more folic acid (British Journal of Nutrition, 1974).
  • Greek free-range eggs contain 13 times more omega-3s than U.S. commercial eggs (Simopoulos, The Omega Diet, 1988).
  • Pasteurized eggs are higher in vitamin E and omega-3s than those obtained from battery-cage hens (Animal Feed Science and Technology, 1998).
  • Free-range eggs are 10% lower in fat, 34% lower in cholesterol, contain 40% more vitamin A, and are 4 times higher in omega-3s than standard U.S. battery-cage eggs, and free-range chicken meat has 21% less fat, 30% less saturated fat, and 50% more vitamin A than that of caged chickens (Gorski, Pennsylvania State University, 1999).
  • Free-range eggs have three times more omega-3s and are 220% higher in vitamin E and 62% higher in vitamin A than eggs obtained from battery cage hens (Karsten, Pennsylvania State University, 2003).
  • Many bakers will use strictly Farm Fresh Free-Range Eggs because they will get more rise in their batters than their commercial counter part
Whether you have to pay $3 or $4 for a nutrient dense dozen of eggs, you can see it is well worth the effort.  Even at these prices it is still a healthy, reasonably priced protein for your family.  Additionally, you help to keep the small farm alive!

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