Research has shown that eggs you purchase at the grocery store are just not the same as those that come from chicken lovers who own their own chickens. Pasture raised eggs contain: 1/3 less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta carotene. For those who don’t know what these nutrients are, basically, free range small production eggs are simply WAY better for you than mass produced grocery store eggs . . . even the organic brands.
The dramatic difference in quality likely is due to the different environments where the chickens live. Free range chickens usually get to wander around a chicken coop or yard while eating a true chicken’s diet; plants, bugs, and seeds. On the other hand, most factory produced chickens never see the light of day and consume the cheapest formula of bulk meal, usually consisting of corn, every day of their lives. Further, even the “free range” brands at the grocery store are a bit misleading. While the birds have access to the outdoors through a small door in the giant warehouse, evidence has shown that the chickens don’t even use them because they aren’t allowed to until later in their lives and by that time their habits are so engrained in them that they become just like all the other factory chickens. Also, Chickens tend to hover close to food and water, and where do you think the water and food is? Inside.
The National Chicken Council created a list of definitions that customers need to know about when shopping for their chicken and eggs: Chickopedia.
While this isn’t meant to be a guilt trip, it kind of is. Why? Because guilt is a great motivator, so is being informed. When you buy the cheapest eggs in the supermarket, not only are you feeding yourself and your family an inferior and nutrient-lacking food but you are supporting the mass production of chickens, which is one of the cruelest industries out there.
So what’s the alternative? Buy pastured eggs from people you know who own chickens. Most people with their own coops are naturally going to treat their chickens like pets, which is good for the chickens and good for you if you eat their eggs. Also, if someone has say, four chickens, they are going to be producing more eggs than most families will eat. That is good for you because you can work out a deal with them to purchase their surplus eggs and eat some of the best eggs you have ever eaten in your life. I’m telling you, it’s a completely different food, a different experience.
If you don’t know anyone who raises chickens, look in your newspaper classifieds, on craigslist, or on the pin-up boards at feed/garden stores. Chickens are wonderful creatures and I’ll probably do a post someday solely about their wonderful characteristics. But for today, I just want to remind everyone to make the effort to support your local economy, your neighbors, and your friends by making the decision to purchase better and more humanely produced eggs. If none of those options work, Eat Wild is a resource to find pasture raised eco-friendly farms in your area, just click on your state and then contact a farm in your area.