Food

Much Ado About Eggs

I found this article on MSNBC yesterday and I wanted to post a link to it because I think it’s really important.  In light of all the egg recalls in the news you may be wondering what types of eggs you should buy.  Here’s the link to the article:

Worried About Bad Eggs?  How to Buy the Healthiest Ones

Here are a couple of quotes from the article that resonated with me:

More than 90 percent of U.S. eggs come from caged hens. These birds have a space smaller than the size of a sheet of paper to move around, and live in filthy conditions. Aside from animal welfare concerns, that’s bad for our health, too, Pennsylvania State University shows, because researchers recently found eggs raised on pasture are much more nutritious than eggs from their caged counterparts.

I cannot fathom or tolerate the living conditions of caged hens.  It is straight out animal cruelty and I don’t understand why our government allows it!  And if you choose to consume eggs and don’t care about animal welfare, the nutrition benefits are still a good reason to seek out local, free-range eggs and avoid caged eggs. 

In an ideal situation, you would purchase your eggs from a local farmer in your area who raises chickens on pasture with plenty of space per bird, and uses moveable, open-air chicken houses, sometimes called chicken tractors, to protect the birds from predators. (You can look for this type of farmer on LocalHarvest.org.) Of course, you could also raise backyard chickens, if you have what it takes.

Personally I think it would be neat to have backyard chickens that provided eggs.  I actually have the space for it in my backyard.  My neighbor two houses down has chickens (I can hear his rooster crowing all day long).  The problem is that I could never, ever kill the chickens for meat.  So once they stopped laying eggs they would just become my pets, roaming around the backyard, living out the rest of their lives.  Which would be fine except that eventually the non-laying hens would become too numerous and I would end up with a hen sanctuary.

Since I don’t raise my own chickens I have to buy eggs from the farmer’s market.  The first thing I ask the farmer is “do your chickens get to run around?”  I phrase it just like that.  I want to know how the farmer raises their chickens.  I want to know that the chickens are not kept in cages and are allowed to hunt and peck and act like chickens.  One lady said “yeah they get to run around.  They run around all over my porch.”  Well that’s good enough for me.  In a perfect world I would go visit the farm and see the chickens.  Maybe someday I will be able to do that.

The MSNBC article gives definitions for the following terms: cage-free, free-range, organic, natural, pastured, omega-3 enriched, and certified humane.  I suggest reading through these definitions so you can learn more about what these terms mean with respect to eggs.  It’s not always what you think.

In my opinion the best eggs you can buy are from your local farmer.  Second best would be organic eggs.  Organic eggs come from hens not kept in cages with access to the outdoors.  The hens are fed organic feed and are free of antibiotics and pesticides.  Mostly importantly annual inspections are required.

But organic eggs are expensive!

Yes organic eggs are very expensive.  I’ve seen them for $4-5 per dozen.  Here’s my solution to that problem: eat less eggs.  Instead of buying 3 dozen for $1.50 each, buy one dozen for $4.50.  Stop using eggs for baking because you don’t really need them anyway.  There are tons of egg substitutes.  My favorite is the flax egg, which is very inexpensive.  Only use your eggs for eating directly, such as scrambled, fried, hard boiled, etc. 

I don’t want to get too high on my soapbox so I’m going to stop right here.  My main point is to educate so people can make the right choice for their own lifestyle.  I hope the article was helpful in answering some egg questions. 

So what are your thoughts on eggs?  Have the recent egg recalls made you reconsider your egg purchases or consumption?

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4 thoughts on “Much Ado About Eggs

  1. Hi Amy, I just found your site and I love it. I was looking for a cornbread recipe. BTW, do you think you can make cornmeal with popcorn? I am going to try it. I have 250 lbs of popcorn that I need to use.

    I buy my eggs from an 80 year old farm lady and have been getting them there for many years. In the winter it is a little hard as the back roads are a little snow covered to get there. More than once I have wondered about driving 10 miles into the country to pick up eggs. Not very eco friendly really. But I like her eggs. And I go into that big old farm kitchen and she usually feeds me something at the same time. One thing about free range eggs, though, is that free range eggs can mean free range laying. And if they do not find or see the eggs right away they can have sat out for a while before you get them. The farmer does not know how fresh they are. My farm lady keeps her chickens in an old chicken coop. There are too many foxes and things that otherwise would get a hold of them. But I feel a bit better that she is seeing the eggs right away when they are laid. And when the time comes they make good chicken soup. 🙂

    1. Hi Thomas! Thanks for sharing that bit of information about free-range eggs and how the farmers have to go look for them (and then don’t know how fresh they are). I never thought about that before but that makes perfect sense.

      I went to a farm once to buy eggs and the farmer told me that eggs last a really long time in the refrigerator. He said that eggs can be up to 6 months old by the time they reach the supermarket. So when I buy eggs from the farmers market now I usually buy 2-3 dozen at a time so they last awhile. Then I make the trip less often and save some gas.

      Thanks for the kind words too. Glad you are enjoying my posts. 🙂

  2. I totally agree. I use eggs sparingly except when I occasionally get the hook up. My most recent hook up is that a co-worker brings his eggs in for $1.25 per dozen……you heard my right. They’re organic and run around outside. I told him he should charge more…..like WAY more but he doesn’t!

  3. I just had a chat with a friend about eggs and poultry in general (mainly the chickens that can’t stand or walk because they’ve been pumped full of drugs to make their breasts huge…). One thing that we said is that people expect food to be so cheap, but forget that there are a lot of trade-offs (negative come to mind first) when you are unwilling to pay a higher price for your food. There are a lot of places around the world where food is expensive and so people eat less of it and savor it more (Europe and Japan both come to mind). Your post on eggs reminded me of this conversation… though my comment may be convoluted… I wanted to say – right on!! You’re on the right track with eggs and many other things as well. 😉

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