It’s Easter, Sonoma, and the perfect time to talk eggs!
We are lucky here in Sonoma Valley to have access to farm fresh, free range eggs, and, for those of you who eat them, you will know what I mean when I say you can certainly tell the difference between conventional (CAFO – confined animal feeding operation) and farm fresh eggs.
Each year the U.S. yields about 75 billion eggs from 280 million birds, which is 10 percent of the world’s supply. That’s a lot of eggs. So where are all these chickens anyway? They are not at the stores, nor are they in most people back yards. So, here chickie, chickie….where are they? Oh, there they are, most of them are in commercial facilities way off the beaten path so you won’t ever see them, and there’s a reason for that. If you saw the conditions under which commercial hens are raised you would never eat a commercial egg again, which would be VERY difficult to do, because if you eat in restaurants, you are probably consuming commercial eggs.
Commercial eggs are fed a diet of corn, soy, cottonseed, synthetic and other additives that are unnatural to their diet. Commercial hens are also not allowed to roam and forage freely outdoors, which affects the quality of the eggs. A Mother Earth News egg testing project (2007) tested the nutritional differences between eggs from free-range pastured eggs and commercially farmed eggs. When compared to official USDA nutrient data, the pastured eggs contained 1/3 less cholesterol, 2/3 more vitamin A, three times more vitamin E, 1/4 less fat, 2 times more Omega 3 fats, seven times more beta carotene. Further tests have repeatedly shown the superior quality of farm fresh eggs over commercial eggs.
A few other notes: Pastured eggs are far less likely to contain harmful bacteria. Many of the commercial eggs receive either a chlorine bath or mineral oil coating before being shipped off to the distributors. The USDA requires processing within 30 days of lay, which means they have 30 days to have them packed and labeled and ready to be shipped. You may not actually consume those eggs for another 30 days…
So, now we know the importance of buying pastured, local, fresh eggs, what is the healthiest way to eat them? For starters, let’s clear up the no-yolk myth. Eggs won’t harm your heart. The good fats and cholesterol are beneficial to your health. Every cell in your body needs this type of good cholesterol. Eating egg white omelettes is so 1990’s, so please bring back the yolks! What’s the healthiest way to eat an egg? Either raw in a smoothie, or soft boiled. It’s true you do run a small risk of being exposed to bad bacteria when consuming a raw egg, but the better quality and fresher the egg, the less the risk. And the unhealthiest way to prepare an egg? Scrambled. Yep. The process of scrambling actually oxidizes the cholesterol in the egg yolk. In general, the less cooked, the better. And, finally, eggs are one of the most allergenic foods. Many people have delayed food reactions to eggs, which can have a negative effect on health. Signs of this sub-clinical reaction are headaches within 24 hrs of consuming eggs, skin rash, and congestion.
Here is a healthy breakfast idea for you: cut large bell pepper rings and put them in the frying pan on a bit of organic pastured butter. Crack egg in center of bell pepper ring and cook it sunny side up. Makes a beautiful breakfast plate with fruit.
Yours in eggstraordinary health,
Heather Morgan, MS, NLC