Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Egg Venture



I love eggs.

My love for eggs began as a child... my father would make me cheese omelettes for dinner when "the cupboard was bare." Weekend mornings always started with eggs, buttered toast or English muffins, sausage or bacon.

In college, my nutrition teacher shared that an egg is the most complete natural protein, since an egg is a whole life form. Some may not want to think of it that way...but I find it fascinating!

I start most days with eggs. My husband loves them, and my son gobbles scrambled eggs with cheese! I've made some mean egg custard, and custard pie... I've started perfecting a yolk-rich ice cream base. Egg salad is a quickly devoured lunch food, and deviled eggs are a special treat.

The dog's favorite snack- a single raw egg cracked over his crunchy food.

With all this egg-sperience, I've noticed differences in eggs... specifically pertaining to the yolk. Yolks vary in appearance. They can be pale, tall, round or flat. Using recipes that called specifically for egg yolks, I noticed that some yolks broke more easily than others. I was sure that this was indicative of quality. To my surprise, the "organic" yolks broke more easily than the Eggland's best, or the 4 grain brand. I did some research regarding this yolk variance. After reading up, I learned that this could be due to old hens, too much corn in their diet (which also can make them sick), or just an old egg.

Pastured, and truly free-roaming chickens who gets plenty of sunlight for vitamin D, exercise and nutrition from grass, bugs and worms from the earth have shown me the healthiest eggs. These chickens yield eggs with strong, round vivid orange yolks that stand tall, albumen or whites that are firm and clear, and shells thick and hard... these are all signs of fresh, healthy eggs.

Pale yolks that burst easily, flatten in a dish or bowl, aren't centered when the egg is cracked, and thin egg shells are all signs of a bad egg, from what I've read and found in my own kitchen. I've wasted lots of money on "organic eggs" that were no better in quality, freshness and taste. The worst part of the organic egg industry is that confinement of the chickens, de-beaking and feeding of synthetic amino acids are all legal and accepted practices for certified organic poultry and eggs.

(Pastured eggs on the left, Eggland's Best on the right)

I'm leading my family towards eating healthier foods, and I hope that I can teach my boys to become "ethical eaters." My husband and I are both recovering vegetarians, so I strive to only buy meats and animal by-products from well-treated animals, free of hormones, unnecessary antibiotics and ideally pasture-raised, cruelty-free. Cruelty-free meat is probably an oxy-moron... but ideally before slaughter, the animal led a happy, low-stress life.

I am so lucky to have found a small, local farm that offers me their eggs. They are the best eggs we've ever had! And from very well-treated, truly free roaming chickens.

Interested in finding similar eggs in your area? Be creative... try localharvest.org, craigslist.org, or see if you have a local chapter of the Weston A Price Foundation. They will help you find farm-fresh eggs, from chickens who are treated as pets, and and not a business.


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5 Comments:

Blogger C said...

i love eggs! you are so smart!

March 24, 2010 at 5:53 PM  
Blogger C said...

You're eggstraordinary! And a great Mom too!

Love you,
Mom

March 24, 2010 at 7:04 PM  
Anonymous Christa said...

Good stuff, Heather. I love the info and am psyched to start my chicken adventures! Also, I second you mom, you are an eggcellent Mommy!

March 26, 2010 at 8:17 PM  
Anonymous Michelle Green said...

I only eat Eggland's eggs, but if you have a local farm I would love to try those eggs. Do you have the contact? Thanks for the info and I look forward to more of your research! See you at JL meeting next month!

March 31, 2010 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger Thoughtful Mothering said...

Thanks, Michelle! I'm not doing JL anymore. I hope I see you somewhere soon, though. I will let you know when my farmer has more eggs. Right now he's maxed-out for his supply, but waiting for several hens to start laying. E-mail me for his info... heatherthalwitzer@gmail.com

March 31, 2010 at 8:10 AM  

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