Wednesday, April 13, 2011

-Know Thy Egg-

There is way too much confusion these days when it comes to food production and labeling. If you read my last post on Marketing The Market, you know what I mean. Honestly, most of us do not have a clue what’s in our food, let alone where it actually came from.  This is a vast difference from even 30 to 40 years ago. Many of us have grown up taking nutrition for granted and letting the “powers that be” dictate what, when, and how much we should eat.  Unfortunately these “powers” don’t always have your best interest at heart and are really looking to fatten their back pockets.  This is where the spread of misleading information begins.  With so many products now labeled “organic”, “natural”, “free-range”, “raw”, and “pure,” we need to educate ourselves to know what it all means.  These labels can often be the byproduct of good and effective marketing.  In this article, I would like to specifically explore the labeling of eggs and why they can be so different, specifically from a nutritional standpoint. The egg is one of Mother Nature’s finest foods.  One egg supplies anywhere from 50-80 calories with
3-5grams of fat and 4-6 grams of protein.  With that being said, not all eggs are created equal.  It all starts with how the hen, which produces the egg, is raised.  For most conventionally/commercially-raised hens, it starts with a tight cramped
space filled with many other hens, which are stacked on top of one another.  This naturally creates territorial tension forcing producers to clip the beaks as to protect one another. It has been documented that these hens are literally considered insane.  Most hen houses store roughly 125,000 hens per shed.  These sheds are fed artificial light, causing the chickens to stimulate egg production year round, which as we know ourselves increases the release of cortisol (which is not a good thing).  I know I wouldn’t want the lights on and to be awake 24/7.  You cannot expect to maintain any level of health this way.  Due to this light exposure, the average hen produces roughly 300-400 eggs per year.  Only with the combination of forced breeding, artificial light, super-feed and antibiotics can this be possible.  Just to show the contrast, in 1900, the average chicken produced 83 eggs per year!!!

For those of you who think that “more is better,”  you should know that from a strictly nutritional perspective, a conventional egg is far less superior to that of a pastured hen.  Before we go into that, let’s first define what “pastured” or “pasture-raised” means.  According to the USDA Trade Descriptions, “birds are raised outdoors using movable enclosures located on grass and fed an organic diet (without hormones or non-organic additives) and/or raised without antibiotics (drugs that are intended to prevent or treat animal illnesses)”.

So naturally, eggs have an equal ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids (which is a good thing) but

commercially-raised dsc071453hens can be anywhere from 1-16-30. The problem here is that as Americans, we already have a higher than desired Omega 6 (polyunsaturated) intake in our diets. Many of these fatty acids have been shown to increase inflammation (which increases cholesterol production) and can contribute to a host of degenerative diseases. Aside from the fatty acid profile, a host of other vitamins in commercially-raised eggs are severely lacking or non-existent.  According to “When chickens are housed indoors and deprived of greens, their meat and eggs also become artificially low in omega-3s. Eggs from pastured hens can contain as much as 10 times more omega-3s than eggs from factory hens.  It has been estimated that only 40 percent of Americans consume an adequate supply of omega-3 fatty acids.  Switching to the meat, milk, and dairy products of grass-fed animals is one way to restore this vital nutrient to your diet.”

With that being said, your best choice is either completely organic or pasture-fed hens. Do not be fooled by terms like “free-range” or “cage free” – unfortunately, these are merely marketing terms that mean absolutely nothing and have no regulation whatsoever. Remember, what it comes down to is QUALITY over QUANTITY. I would rather you eat 1 pastured egg than 4 commercial eggs (much less one commercial egg). Also know that the nutrition you get from any food is only as good as its source. I prefer not to eat eggs from a sick chicken, but that’s just me. Just knowing where and how your eggs get from the farm to the table can empower you and highly benefit your health. If you are looking for the highest quality pastured eggs we have them every Saturday via pre-order. Email me for details.


1 comment:

  1. yea, its a huge difference. It just found a farm by my that has free range beef,eggs,chesse etc. I am pretty happy about this. I am starting to eat much cleaner with higher quality now.