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Add freedom to your eggs

http://www.rappnews.com/2011/04/21/add-freedom-to-your-eggs/14499/

Add freedom to your eggs

By
RappNews
? April 21, 2011Posted in: Dining/Food/Wine, Recipes

 Good eggs are hard to come by ? harder than you may think. It seems you can find chicken and eggs labeled ?organic? and ?free range? in just about any grocery store these days, packaged in bucolic images of rolling green hills and red barns. That is almost never the reality, even among these supposedly humane alternatives.

A chicken fed organic feed in a confinement barn with a tiny dirt yard does not represent ethical or sustainable farming. With this said, I guess that it all depends on how lazy the farmer is . . .

If said farmer does not let his barnyard birds out of the coop until noon, chances are the hens? laying boxes will be full of quality eggs. But, if said chickens are let out to pasture, the said ?lazy farmer? must start the process of finding and gathering all of the eggs that the hens have deposited around the yard, and carefully get them to the barn or kitchen to wash.

Pastured eggs are seasonal ? the hens lay less as the days get shorter. In industrial confined egg operations they use artificial lights and a horrible practice called forced molting to overcome this. That means that starting in October, egg production declines and by November, may be half what it is in the summer. However, while the ladies are resting and not earning their keep, they are eating even more expensive grains because of the cold weather. That?s another reason why pastured eggs cost more.

Grass-fed/pastured hens that are not being kept in confine­ment are fed primarily grains containing up to 20 times more healthy omega-3 fatty acids than those of their less fortunate cousins (factory hens). Pastured hens? diets are naturally complemented with bugs, earthworms, and other such critters that give their eggs a huge nutritious ?oomph.? Although not necessarily organic, pastured hens are usually much healthier and happier than their space-restricted and antibiotic-pumped industrial cousins. Pasturing is the traditional method of raising egg-laying hens and other poultry. It is ecologically sustainable, humane, and produces the tastiest, most nutritious eggs. Pastured eggs also have 10 percent less fat, 40 percent more vitamin A, and 34 percent less cholesterol than eggs obtained from factory farms.

What the conscientious consumer should really be looking for is pastured chickens, of the heritage breed if possible. When I lived in New England, I bought my eggs from a nearby farmer. The eggs had strong shells and dark, orange yolks that stood tall when I cracked them open. They were the most delicious eggs I?ve ever eaten.

The organic, vegetarian-fed, free-range, antibiotic-free eggs I found in Los Angeles were nothing like that. They are indistinguishable from the runny, yellow, conventional eggs most people purchase today. Clearly something is amiss. The difference is pasture. At first you may think that is precisely what is meant by ?free range,? but sadly that is almost never the case.

A ?free range? label on an egg carton or chicken wrapper almost invariably means that the chickens were raised in a crowded shed with limited outdoor access and almost certainly no fresh grass. It is often not terribly different from how their conventional counterparts are raised, and yet by meeting a few technical benchmarks, sellers can mark up their products to fetch the premium prices that more ethical food brings, effectively duping consumers. Don?t be fooled; there is no substitute for real pasture. And remember there are no seasons in a modern-day grocery store!

r_foodEggs-21web

It may seem strange to think of putting chickens in a pasture. After all, chickens, unlike cows, don?t eat much grass. But the amount of grass they do eat when given the opportunity, along with the bugs and lizards they scratch up, make a world of difference in egg quality. Pasture also makes a world of difference to the quality of life for the chicken. They must be moved to fresh pasture every day or so to avoid killing the grass, so they get constant access to fresh greens, bugs, sunshine, and space to move around as they fertilize the lawn.

Without doubt, ?free range? eggs are better than purely conventional eggs in environmental terms, but we can do so much better. The farmers out there who are really promoting a sustainable model with pastured, happy chickens and nutritious eggs, as opposed to those who have learned to do the bare minimum to fool consumers into thinking their product is superior, really deserve that extra dollar or three per dozen. Talk to sellers at your local farmers? market or check sites like Eat Wild and Local Harvest to find sources. Luckily, you?ll know when you?ve bought the real deal. The proof is right there in the pudding ? or the shell. There are several local sources for pasture-raised eggs, Keep this in mind as you start your day every morning.

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Re: Add freedom to your eggs

  • I can attest to the truth in this article.  We eat local, pastured eggs from the Farmer's Market and they are worlds better than their grocery store counterparts.  Even the "free range organic" supermarket eggs.
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  • image SuperGreen:
    I can attest to the truth in this article.  We eat local, pastured eggs from the Farmer's Market and they are worlds better than their grocery store counterparts.  Even the "free range organic" supermarket eggs.

    Can you describe how they taste different?  We have been getting eggs from DH's co-worker who also lives down the street from us.  He has a bunch of chickens that he lets roam but the eggs taste very gamey...I guess is the best way to describe them.  Similar to wild turkey vs. grocery store turkey.  I don't mind it when we make things like scrambled eggs but I can still taste them when I bake with them and they don't work well with sweet desserts.  I don't know maybe I just need to get used to them.  I'm beginning to wonder if we should try going to a different "egg guy" down the street (I love living in the country!) but I don't want to make DH's co-worker mad if they are going to taste the same.  Then again maybe that guy has a different breed of chickens.  Different types of chickens have different tasting eggs right? 

  • I keep reading this too, and we get our eggs from a lady down the street from us. We see the chickens, they live a "happy" life, pecking away at grass, living outside etc etce and we ask what she feeds them It's all organic natural goodness.

    They taste the same to me. 

     

  • image FoxinFiji:

    image SuperGreen:
    I can attest to the truth in this article.  We eat local, pastured eggs from the Farmer's Market and they are worlds better than their grocery store counterparts.  Even the "free range organic" supermarket eggs.

    Can you describe how they taste different?

    Sure!  The farmer who supplies our eggs has a bunch of different kinds of chickens, so his eggs are all different colors and sizes. I really love that a lot. If we're making scrambled eggs I can grab 4 big eggs, if I'm baking I can use medium eggs, and I can grab a small egg for things like brushing a pastry or making an egg wash. 

    Putting a word to the taste of our eggs is hard.  I wouldn't use "gamey."  Maybe strong, or clean.  I feel like supermarket eggs taste weak and bland.  Our eggs have a pronouced, strong egg taste.  The yolks are also bright orange (from the beta carotene in the grass of pastured hens) and the yolks stand up really tall.  For a large egg, they look like ping pong balls when I break them into a bowl.  They are super easy to separate from the whites because of that.  Grocery store eggs are runny IMHO.

    If you're not a fan of YH co-worker's eggs, I would recommend trying out eggs from your Farmer's Market or another neighbor (you're so lucky!) before dumping your current "egg guy."  It could be the breed of chicken, or the type of feed he's using, or whether the chickens are healthy.  You'll only be out the price of a spare carton, and then you could put this issue to rest.

    I bought eggs from all the vendors at the Farmer's Market before I settled on the women we currently buy from.  She had the best eggs.  I hope that helps!

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  • image foundmylazybum:

    I keep reading this too, and we get our eggs from a lady down the street from us. We see the chickens, they live a "happy" life, pecking away at grass, living outside etc etce and we ask what she feeds them It's all organic natural goodness.

    They taste the same to me. 

     

    Fair enough.  DH says I have a "sensitive palate."  I can taste the difference between produce from our organic vendor that I work for, and if I have to buy it from one of the non-organic vendors.  I'm such a snob Surprise DH has actually tried this out on me, by cooking when I'm not home and telling me it's from my farm. I called him out on it Devil

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  • Ha that's funny he tried to trick you and you knew the difference!

    I'm going to have to convince DH that we need to try a new guy.  He's reluctant to change because our current egg guy makes it so convenient.  DH just brings old egg cartons to work and trades them for fresh filled ones his CW keeps in a mini fridge under his desk.  It's like a convenient store at his work! 

    That's cool that you get all different sized eggs.  Our current egg guy only has one breed of chicken so they are all the same size.  Plus he has a rooster that um...shoots blanks so once and a while we have a small brown spot inside.  LOL I almost wish I hadn't ask what that was so I'd be oblivious to it. 

  • image SuperGreen:
    image FoxinFiji:

    image SuperGreen:
    I can attest to the truth in this article.  We eat local, pastured eggs from the Farmer's Market and they are worlds better than their grocery store counterparts.  Even the "free range organic" supermarket eggs.

    Can you describe how they taste different?

    Sure!  The farmer who supplies our eggs has a bunch of different kinds of chickens, so his eggs are all different colors and sizes. I really love that a lot. If we're making scrambled eggs I can grab 4 big eggs, if I'm baking I can use medium eggs, and I can grab a small egg for things like brushing a pastry or making an egg wash. 

    Putting a word to the taste of our eggs is hard.  I wouldn't use "gamey."  Maybe strong, or clean.  I feel like supermarket eggs taste weak and bland.  Our eggs have a pronouced, strong egg taste.  The yolks are also bright orange (from the beta carotene in the grass of pastured hens) and the yolks stand up really tall.  For a large egg, they look like ping pong balls when I break them into a bowl.  They are super easy to separate from the whites because of that.  Grocery store eggs are runny IMHO.

    If you're not a fan of YH co-worker's eggs, I would recommend trying out eggs from your Farmer's Market or another neighbor (you're so lucky!) before dumping your current "egg guy."  It could be the breed of chicken, or the type of feed he's using, or whether the chickens are healthy.  You'll only be out the price of a spare carton, and then you could put this issue to rest.

    I bought eggs from all the vendors at the Farmer's Market before I settled on the women we currently buy from.  She had the best eggs.  I hope that helps!

    I'm not trying to be assy here really I'm not...but these things aren't taste...They are attributes of the egg..and I see these things too and they are great.but it's not actually the "taste."  The only taste difference I see here was "it's really eggy."

    Whenever I read these articles, it's almost the same thing as you have described...I'm reading these other "descriptions" of the egg..which, yeah our eggs do have these qualities..but the actual taste..no. It's the same.

    And just to be clear, I'm totally on board with buying my eggs from "carol" our local lady. I'm in love with her..and I'm buying the eggs on the principle of humane treatment and localness, so this idea isn't that important to me..

    But...people. Sell it on the qualities, not the taste. Identify it by what it is, because it's confusing to me. That's all. 

    I guess I'm just waiting for this explosion of taste difference..like the time I ate the quail eggs and they were completely different. 

  • image foundmylazybum:
    I'm not trying to be assy here really I'm not...but these things aren't taste...They are attributes of the egg..and I see these things too and they are great.but it's not actually the "taste."  The only taste difference I see here was "it's really eggy." 

    Whenever I read these articles, it's almost the same thing as you have described...I'm reading these other "descriptions" of the egg..which, yeah our eggs do have these qualities..but the actual taste..no. It's the same.

    And just to be clear, I'm totally on board with buying my eggs from "carol" our local lady. I'm in love with her..and I'm buying the eggs on the principle of humane treatment and localness, so this idea isn't that important to me..

    But...people. Sell it on the qualities, not the taste. Identify it by what it is, because it's confusing to me. That's all. 

    I guess I'm just waiting for this explosion of taste difference..like the time I ate the quail eggs and they were completely different.  

    I can't eat conventional/etc. eggs -- they make me nearly gag when i try (though i don't notice in baked goods), both because of the bland flavor and the icky texture.  I used to think i hated eggs, but i can eat (and now enjoy) eggs several ways, when they are from pastured chickens.  I think freshness plays into it, but it's more than that b/c i've let (true) free range eggs sit in the fridge a looong time and they are still better in these ways than more conventional eggs.  Anyway, i do taste a difference, in that they *have* taste, unlike conventional-ish eggs.  They also have a much better texture, which is a major thing for me when choosing/eating food.

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  • image foundmylazybum:

    I'm not trying to be assy here really I'm not...but these things aren't taste...They are attributes of the egg..and I see these things too and they are great.but it's not actually the "taste."  The only taste difference I see here was "it's really eggy."

    Whenever I read these articles, it's almost the same thing as you have described...I'm reading these other "descriptions" of the egg..which, yeah our eggs do have these qualities..but the actual taste..no. It's the same.

    And just to be clear, I'm totally on board with buying my eggs from "carol" our local lady. I'm in love with her..and I'm buying the eggs on the principle of humane treatment and localness, so this idea isn't that important to me..

    But...people. Sell it on the qualities, not the taste. Identify it by what it is, because it's confusing to me. That's all. 

    I guess I'm just waiting for this explosion of taste difference..like the time I ate the quail eggs and they were completely different. 

    Well, describing the taste of eggs is hard.  Nothing else takes like chicken eggs, like you said quail or duck egss taste completely different.  It's like trying to describe the difference between grocery store and pastured-raised chicken.  How do you describe the taste of chicken?  Nothing else tastes like it.

    Everyone's palate is different.  You may not get the "explosion of taste difference", grocery and pasture eggs may taste the same to you.  They don't to me, the difference is just hard to describe. Pastured eggs have a strong, pronounced egg taste, and they taste cleaner to me.  They are also less watery.  Those are all taste descriptors.

    I try to sell on taste because that's a big factor for most people.  To most consumers, the key purchasing factors aren't humane treatment or localness, it's price and taste.  Pasture-raised eggs do cost more, so my thinking was if you tell people something tastes better, they may be more likely to buy it.  Plus the OP was "how do pastured eggs taste different?"

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