Tag Archives: eggs

Egg-ucation: You Can’t Judge a Book by It’s Cover

The other day, I was in the small store where I pick up my eggs and the woman in front of me asked me if I preferred the  eggs I bought there (which are a variety of colors, including white) to the brown eggs I bought in the store. She went on to say she would only eat the brown eggs, not the white eggs, she got from Kroger because the white ones upset her stomach. Upon further discussion with her, it became clear that she thought there was some kind of difference internally because of the external shell color, which told me two things: 1) marketing works and 2) her stomach upset is likely totally psychosomatic.

Unfortunately, many people have been duped by marketers into thinking that brown eggs are somehow special.  Many of the “special” eggs at the grocery store are brown exactly for this reason, and it’s been a very effective ploy. So I thought it was worth some time to clear up some things about eggs.

1. Shell color is a function of chicken species, and indicates nothing about how a chicken was raised or the nutritional value.

The blue eggs seen here are likely from the breeds Ameraucana or Araucana. The tan ones may be from Andalusia or Australorp.

2. “Cage Free” eggs from most grocery stores are a waste of your money. The definition of “cage free” just means that the chickens aren’t raised in cages. In almost all commercial egg operations, they’re still de-beaked, never see the outdoors, eat exactly the same diet as birds in cages, and are still packed in tighter than sardines.

3. “Free Range” eggs from most grocery stores are just as big a waste of your money as “cage free,” and for the same reasons. Yes, that includes never seeing the outdoors.

4. You cannot tell if a chicken is free-range by it’s egg yolk color. There was a time, until fairly recently, that those of us advocating farm fresh, true free-range eggs pointed to the yolk color as an indicator. These yolks were made yellow by a the free-ranging diet that contained foods with a lot of pigment, which followed through to the egg yolks. Darker yellow also indicated fresher eggs. Unfortunately, commercial egg producers caught on, and many use either natural food dyes, like marigold petals, or unnatural food dyes to color the egg yolks.

5. Organic eggs receive no special treatment in the US. They are fed an organic diet, but currently studies don’t show a difference in nutritional value between organic commercial eggs and non-organic commercial eggs. I am not saying difference don’t exist, but thus far commercial eggs are commercial eggs as far as we can tell.

6. Studies show that eggs from hens raised on pasture have up to 4-6 times more vitamin D, 1/3 less cholesterol, twice as many Omega 3 fatty acids, 25% less saturated fat, more than triple the amount of beta carotene, and more vitamin A than conventional/commercial eggs. Typically, you must buy local eggs if you want pastured. It doesn’t matter what color they are.

There are probably two breeds of chickens eggs in this carton. These are less than a few days old, truly pastured, and come from my own county.

7. A “vegetarian” diet doesn’t make for better eggs. Chickens aren’t suppose to be vegetarians, they’re intended to eat bugs and worms, as well as plant matter. That is where many of the nutrients that make eggs desirable come from. The insinuation behind “vegetarian” diet is that the chickens aren’t getting “weird” things that might be hiding diseases or something (mad cow? TB? I have no idea). The reality if they’re not getting organic feed, they’re getting pesticide-laden grains and vegetable scraps. If it is organic feed, they’re still missing the ingredients needed to give them the nutrition that pastured eggs have.

Marketing affects so much of what we eat. It’s often difficult to separate fact from fiction, reality from fantasy. Companies make a lot of money on food, and will go to fairly great lengths to get you to buy something for a higher price. Don’t fall for it. There’s definitely a place to spend more money on some food items, but it’s often not where the food producers and retailers want you to think it is.  There’s no point in spending more money on something that’s exactly the same as something that is less expensive.

So the answer to the original questions of do I prefer farm-fresh, local  eggs to commercial brown eggs is yes, but it has nothing to do with shell color.


Grain Free Week & On the Menu

I am going grain-free for a week, though Thadd will not be joining me. I thought about blogging my grain-free journey with recipes and everything, and then I realized that the menu really doesn’t look much different from any other menu I post. With the exceptions of homemade (super-yummy) breads, we don’t eat a ton of grains.  When we do, it tends to be quinoa, bulgar, etc., mostly because I like cooking weird stuff.

So, I’ll keep you generally posted, but don’t expect any real revelations. Maybe I should have done this in the winter, when we’re a bit more grain-heavy. Regardless, here’s the menu for the week:

DINNERS

Monday: Seared pork loin with homemade BBQ beans and vinegar & herb 3-potato salad.  This meal was to use up some of the leftovers from our party. I made crockpot beans to go with our burgers (yep, all pastured and local, etc.), and had some leftover. My potato salad is one of my most-requested recipes, and has no dairy. It’s a wonderful combination of cider vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs, with lemon zest over the top!

Tuesday:  Asian salmon over zucchini “noodles”,” with large salad. They store had made a mistake in pricing their salmon filets, so I grabbed them! I love making zucchini, beets, spaghetti squash, and other veggies into noodles, and it’s a fun way to get kids to eat their veggies, too! Greens are in hot and heavy right now, so they’re a featured item in many of our meals.

Wednesday: Beef, with whipped sweet potatoes and seasonal vegetable. We just got a load of beef in from one of our favorite farms, and this is Thadd’s night to cook, so he gets to choose what kind of beef we’ll have. I’m going to hit the Green Market to see what’s fresh for our vegetable, and we’ll pull some sweet potatoes out of storage.

Thursday: Duck egg & greens frittata with soup and salad. Organic, free range duck eggs…so good! I’ll put together some “stone soup” from leftovers and homemade stock, and serve it with a big salad of fresh greens, strawberries, and elderberry & sage vinaigrette.

Friday & Saturday: Birthday parties. Lots of birthdays this month! So, the menu is on hold until we hear whether these are cookouts, etc.

Lunches are leftovers for the most part. Breakfasts include some combination of: milk, eggs in some form, cheese, fruit, yogurt, and honey.

What are you eating this week?


Friday Fast Ones

Fast One: Store-purchased organic eggs may not live up to all they’re cracked up to be. Those in the local food movement pretty much already know this, but it’s worth getting out there. Most organic eggs from supermarkets are produced in glorified (and often not so glorified) factory farms with very little difference from non-organic eggs, except for the price tag. Supermarket brands, including Whole Foods, rank lowest on the list of quality. What it  means to you: If you’re buying Certified Organic eggs at the supermarket, you’re probably being shafted. Find a local farmer, and get your money’s worth. And, honestly, it’ll probably be less money; though, it’s still a far better value even if it’s the same price or more expensive.  Ask around at your local farmer’s market, or go to localharvest.org to find real eggs.

Fast One: PA rejected regulation 2777, which would have effectively banned any an all ways of selling raw milk in PA! What it means to you: Well, if you’re in PA it means you can still get raw milk. If you’re anywhere else in the country, it means that some politicians are hearing those of us who are being active about wanting choices in our food. If you want the ability to decide if you should drink raw milk, eat pastured eggs and chickens from a small farm, or any other kind of food freedom, you need to get active.  Monsanto, the Corn Refiners Association, The Dairy Council…all of these companies spend millions of dollars a year lobbying to control your food.

Fast One: Speaking of the Corn Refiner’s Association, they’re now actively pushing their “educational” agenda about HFCS on blogs, and paying or otherwise compensating “mommy bloggers” to push their product as healthy. Essentially, they give money, gifts, or other compensation to people for listening to a presentation, and they blogging the positives. CRA reps are popping up on negative-HFCS blogs everywhere, and disappear when pushed about their agenda, whether or not the CRA is paying them to comment, etc. What this means to you: Buyer beware. Take a critical look at the blogs you read, and do some digging into their integrity. Taking money or other gifts to post positively about a product or service isn’t something I consider ethical, do you? There’s a large amount of money being spent here. People are becoming more aware of  HFCS and choosing to eschew it, which is starting to hurt the profits of Corporate Agriculture. They’re fighting back, and doing it in a fairly sneaky way, which writes a story all it’s own. There’s a whole post here in and of itself, one I’ve done before in some respects; but, really, just go read the link and the comments. It’s worth it.

And, last but not least:

Friday Fast One: It’s VA Wine month! There are 180 wineries in VA, many of them using grapes grown either on their estate or in close proximity.  What this means to you: Well, a very good weekend, if you plan it right! It also means, however, that all of those locavores (I hate that word, btw) out there need to hop on this bandwagon. Supporting local includes beverages, and there are some amazing wines coming out of VA. Several wineries are competing for international awards, and holding their own. For some insights, visit Swirl, Sip Snark, Dezel at MyVineSpot.Com, Drink What YOU Like, or  VA Wine Time to check out The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, and plan a trip!

To Celebrate VA Wine Month, I’ll be splashing (which means pouring wine tastings) for Wintergreen Winery at Rebec’s Garlic Fest this Saturday. Swing through, say hello, see my New Hair, and try some great local wines! I’m the short blond with the short ‘do at the tasting station!


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