Last updated on August 27, 2010 by Liza Hawkins
It seems like every other news report this past week has been about eggs and the massive recall from a couple of the largest egg producing factories in the United States. Scary stuff.
Makes me glad to know where our eggs come from, but even if we didn’t know our egg layers personally (and we do), I know where we’d be going to get our next dozen: our local farmer’s market. Small scale farmers know their chickens and if you’ve never tried a fresh egg before you are missing out my friends!
And, while we’re on the topic of eggs, I’d like to look at the difference between the types of eggs available, because I think that can be a little confusing when you’re staring at the egg shelves in the grocery store.
- Standard: Your typical grocery store egg. Chickens are kept in small battery cages, three to seven per cage – no exercise room. Hens are fed a high protein diet containing antibiotics, hormones, and other chemicals. The demand for eggs is high, and this type of egg is cheap to produce. Unfortunately the quality of life for the hens is very, very poor. Sad, actually.
- Organic: Hens have outdoor access during the day, and are able to run around in natural vegetation – dirt, grass, weeds, plants, etc. They eat organic grain feed, which doesn’t contain any chemicals, antibiotics, pesticides, or fertilizers. Also, no hormones or meat byproducts to make them grow bigger. Once laid, the eggs are not subject to artificial color or vitamin additives, which are what typically makes the yolk a pale yellow. Organic eggs are more expensive, but you know exactly what’s going into your body.
- Free-range: Hens have daily access to outdoor areas with vegetation, but are housed indoors in large barns the majority of the time. They’re not locked up in cages and are allowed to wander freely within the barn, and the ratio of the amount of hens to size of the barn is regulated.
- Omega-3: To have a higher Omega-3 content, hens are fed a diet rich in flax seed, canola, and linseed oil (which all have a high Omega-3 fatty acid levels). This type of egg is healthier since the Omega-3 fatty acid consumed by the hens passes through to their eggs, but the hens are kept in battery cages just like the standard egg hens. So the hen is not healthier, and the quality of life is bad.
|Photos courtesy of Truffula Seed Produce|
So, there you have it. Make your egg selections wisely – you are what you eat, after all. Eggs are one of the few things I’m willing to pay a little extra for when I do have to buy them at the grocery store. But, you might find a better deal at your local farmers’ market!