I learned some things about eggs recently that I wish I’d realized sooner. I am no longer okay with the eggs I was totally okay with, just a week ago. So, I’m sharing this information with you.
We eat a lot of eggs. I feed my kids a lot of eggs. They are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat. BUT we may be missing out on a lot of that nutrition if we aren’t buying the correct eggs. Also, I care about things like the way we treat a chicken.
Maybe this post will impact the how and the where you buy your eggs, too.
Start by watching this quick but informative video by PBS called The Story of an Egg
(Or copy and paste this link: http://www.pbs.org/filmfestival/all-films/story-egg/)
This video does an awesome job of showing what the conditions on the “typical” chicken farm are. It also does a great job of clarifying exactly what cage free vs. pasture raised actually means. This is the part that I didn’t know before. I thought I was doing good by the chicken with my 18-pack of “organic cage free” eggs that I purchased from Costco. I was wrong.
UVA Health Systems blogger lists the different terms you may find when you look at meat in the grocery store. The same premise applies to the egg. The last term “pasture raised” is what I’m going for when I buy my next dozen:
Pasture raised: Animal lived outdoors without confinement.
Let’s talk about the differences in nutrition.
Truly Pasture Raised = Nutrition is Better
If a chicken (hen) is raised on open land and able to wander in a sunny, grassy pasture, she’s able to eat vital nutrients for her own body, which translates into healthier eggs. The more worms, green plants and bugs the chicken eats, the healthier he/she is. Have you ever seen a photo depicting the different colors of the yolks of chickens raised on a pasture and those raised on purely feed? You should keep this in mind when buying chicken to eat, as well.
This picture from Simpledailyrecipes.com puts it perfectly!
I remember the very first time I cracked open a truly pasture raised egg. WOW what a difference and to be honest, it kind of grossed me out. Knowing why the color difference is there, may have helped.
Pasture raised hens lay eggs that are typically higher in vitamin A and E, contain more beta carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. All around, a more nutritious egg.
Think about the difference between eating a miserable chicken (sick) and a happy chicken. Let’s not kid ourselves and say there isn’t going to be a difference. Plus, it’s being a better human being. If you can afford to buy eggs that are truly pasture raised, do it. Eat fewer eggs if you have to. I’d much rather have fewer eggs that are healthier and humanely kept, but that’s me.
Where to Buy These Eggs
This may be the bigger hurdle to overcome for most people than simply cost alone. We are all busy and we may not have time to visit the local farmer’s market each week.
The best source of fresh nutritious pasture raised eggs are from your local farmer / farm who allows the chickens to roam freely. If you have this kind of farm nearby and you know about it already, awesome!
If not, here area few ways to find pasture raised eggs near you:
Farmer’s Market – find out if your city has a farmer’s market. Most will have a chicken farmer who has pasture raised eggs. You can also use the USDA site to see if one is nearby.
The American Pastured Poultry Producer Directory may help you find a farmer.
Contact your local chapter of Weston A. Price Foundation who can help you locate a farmer.
Some of the questions you may want to ask your farmer:
-How many hours a day do they spend outside?
-Do you supplement with feed? And if so, is it GMO? Is it soy?
-Are your chickens raised without antibiotics?
The difference you may be most interested in between organic pasture raised eggs and not organic pasture raised eggs is their feed. A lot of pasture raised chickens and hens are given supplemental feed which is usually a grain sourced feed. 98% of animal feed in the USA is GMO! So, it’s up to you if organic is worth it or not. Remember to talk to your farmer. Just because it’s not organic, doesn’t mean your farmer uses conventional GMO feed. A lot of farmers care enough to choose non-GMO feed. YAY!
You Have the Knowledge
I know all of our food in today’s world is confusing. It’s getting even worse as marketers coin terms to mislead us. It seems that I constantly learn something I think I’m doing right is actually wrong. Instead of becoming overwhelmed and giving up, I just keep going with the new knowledge and do better. I am an army of one, but that’s not stopping me from taking my stand to protect my family from our toxic food supply and hope I make a difference. Go forth, buy pasture raised. The cost increase is worth it, for my family and hopefully it is for yours too.
If you have some extra time on your hands and are interested in learning more:
I enjoyed watching this video from Mercola.com that interviews my favorite farmer, ever~ Joel Salatin at his Polyface Farm in Virginia.