Thank goodness that we are no longer living in the dark days of eggphobia, or egg-white-only scrambles and omelets! Even conventional consensus has awakened to the fact that eggs; whole eggs, are good for us. However, not all eggs are created equal. When it comes to health, taste, and sustainability; pastured eggs are superior, by far, when compared with conventional eggs. Why?
Conventional Eggs vs. Pastured Eggs
Chickens that are kept on factory farms are packed together in cages and never see the natural world. As a result of their extremely over-crowded conditions, they become stressed and will peck at each other, so they are also debeaked. Since the beak is actually filled with nerve endings, the mutilation causes pain to the birds, leading to more stress. Disease amongst the hens are managed with antibiotics, and they are given cheap feed made from GMO soy, corn , or cottonseed meal. Then, in order to force the birds into another laying cycle, they are subjected to “false-molting” whereby the chickens are starved for up to two weeks. It should be quite evident that such inhumane practices cannot produce eggs that are truly nourishing.
In vast contrast to conventionally raised chickens, their pastured counterparts enjoy the natural cycles and conditions that honor what they need to thrive. Pastured birds are allowed to roam in open spaces and to forage on green plants and insects. They are not debeaked and typically live longer and much more healthy lives. The eggs that come from such birds are far more nutritious, and, to egg aficionados, taste much better.
6 Healthy Reasons to Choose Pastured Eggs
In 2007, Mother Earth News conducted an in depth study of several truly free-range, pastured chicken farms and compared the eggs against those from conventional farms, and the results were quite startling. The following chart is taken from that study, and shows the comparison in six categories:
From the chart above, the conclusion drawn by Mother Earth News is that pastured eggs contain:
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 1/3 less cholesterol
For the full study, click HERE.
What About Organic or Free Range Eggs?
Don’t let these terms mislead you into thinking that the chickens are treated the same way as on pasture, because they are not.
- Organic means that the birds are fed organic feed, but they can still be confined and debeaked.
- Free Range is a loose term, and does not mean that the birds are out in the open. Many “free range” operations only have a tiny door for the chickens to use, and the range area maybe made of concrete, with no grass insight.
Honor the Chicken by Choosing Pastured Eggs
Wrapped in myth and harkening to our primal origin, the egg is a symbol of birth and creation. Harold McGee, author of
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen honors the egg with these thoughtful words:
“The egg has loomed large as a symbol for the enigmatic origins of animals, of humans, of gods, of the earth, of the entire cosmos. The Egyptian book of the Dead, the Indian Rig Veda, Greek Orphic mysteries, and creation myths throughout the world have been inspired by the eruption of life from a lifeless, blank shell.”
When it comes to choosing the right egg, your choice does matter. It matters to your health and that of your family. It matters to the health and happiness of the chickens. And it matters to the health and sustainability of our environment. So choose wisely, choose pastured eggs.
If you live in the Bay Area, Shellysfarmfresh.com offers the freshest and best pastured eggs available. Shelly’s chickens are free roaming hens that live a happy existence outdoors and are never given soy-based feed. You can find Shelly’s Farm Fresh Eggs at:
Pleasanton Farmers Market Year round but during the winter every other week.
Brentwood Farmers Market from March 1, 2014
Castro Farmers Market from March 12, 2014
Also returning to Brentwood Fine Meats and Happy Child CSA as egg volume allows.
For Love of Food, Friends, and Chickens,
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