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The End-Of-Summer Eggstravaganza

As summer draws to a close, there is at least one thing to look forward to; fresh eggs. After all, it’s probably been about 20 weeks since you got those really cute little baby chicks, and depending on which breed(s) made up that Spring flock, they should be getting ready to begin laying any day now, if they haven’t already.

Soon, you’ll have more eggs than you know what to do with, so we’ve decided to celebrate the bounty of those delicious eggs with a roll-up of our last years’ 12 recipes. Enjoy!

Pickled Beet Eggs


Decoding Egg Labels

The other day I drove past a roadside sign selling ‘Farm Fresh Brown Eggs’. Well heck, who doesn’t like farm fresh eggs? Especially brown farm fresh eggs. But what does the color brown have to do with anything? Is it more nutritious? Does it mean that the eggs are organic? Turns out there are a bunch of possible labels for eggs, so today we’re going to try to make some sense of them with the help of these definitions from Sustainable Table.

Hormone Free
The USDA has prohibited use of the term “Hormone Free,” but meats can be labeled “No Hormones Administered.”

Cage-Free
Birds are raised without cages. What this doesn’t explain is if the birds were raised outdoors on pasture, if they had access to outside, or if they were raised indoors in overcrowded conditions. If you are looking to buy eggs, poultry or meat that was raised outdoors, look for a label that says “Pastured” or “Pasture-raised”.

GMO-Free or No GMOs
The product was produced without the use of GMOs (genetically-modified organisms). For more information, visit the Genetic Engineering page in the Issues section.

Natural
Currently, no standards exist for this label except when used on meat and poultry products. USDA guidelines state that “Natural” meat and poultry products can only undergo minimal processing and cannot contain artificial colors, artificial flavors, preservatives, or other artificial ingredients. However, “natural” foods are not necessarily sustainable, organic, humanely raised, or free of hormones and antibiotics. The label “natural” is virtually meaningless.

No antibiotics administered, raised without antibiotics or antibiotic-free
No antibiotics were administered to the animal during its lifetime. If an animal becomes sick, it will be taken out of the herd and treated but it will not be sold with this label.

Organic
In order to be labeled “organic,” a product, its producer, and the farmer must meet the USDA’s organic standards and must be certified by a USDA-approved food-certifying agency. Organic foods cannot be grown using synthetic fertilizers, chemicals, or sewage sludge, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot be irradiated. Organic meat and poultry must be fed only organically-grown feed (without any animal byproducts) and cannot be treated with hormones or antibiotics. Furthermore, the animals must have access to the outdoors, and ruminants must have access to pasture (which doesn’t mean they actually have to go outdoors and graze on pasture to be considered organic.

Pastured or Pasture-Raised
Indicates the animal was raised on a pasture and that it ate grasses and food found in a pasture, rather than being fattened on grain in a feedlot or barn. Pasturing livestock and poultry is a traditional farming technique that allows animals to be raised in a humane, ecologically sustainable manner. This is basically the same as grass-fed, though the term pasture-raised indicates more clearly that the animal was raised outdoors on pasture.

How we label our eggs
Although we raise our birds on pasture with organic feed, we aren’t certified organic, so we don’t label them so. We also don’t grade or classify our eggs so we label them “ungraded” and “unclassified”. In PA, if you label your cartons with a particular grade, they have to be inspected to confirm they meet that grade. Since we’re selling our eggs to friends and neighbors, they know how we raise them, and we want them to see it for themselves. Isn’t that the best label of all?

* This post was originally published on August 23, 2011.

 

Flock Owners: 5 Good Reasons to Create an Eggzy Egg Stand

Got a backyard flock? Eggzy puts you in control. We’re building easy-to-use-tools to simplify flock management and record keeping. You control how things work – whether you share, barter or sell your eggs, Eggzy gives you the information you need.

  1. If you’re a registered Eggzy flock owner, creating an Eggzy egg stand is fast and easy (http://www.eggzy.net/flockowners)
  2. Keeping an egg stand encourages regular usage of Eggzy tools – which encourage good agricultural practices (GAP)
  3. Egg stand owners can share flock info and egg availability with others easily by way of the subscriber feature (http://www.eggzy.net/help/#posting)
  4. Egg stand owners gain exposure from press and promotions
  5. Launching an Eggzy egg stand is free to create and free to use, so why not start (or update) yours today (http://www.eggzy.net/help/#customizing)?

* This post was originally published on September 24, 2011.

Are Pasture Raised Eggs Better For You?

Yes, and a number of studies can prove it.

A recent study from the journal Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems found that hens raised on pasture, meaning they eat a small amount of grain but get most of their diet by foraging in the grass for bugs, have 2.5 times more omega-3 fatty acids and 2 times as much vitamin E than chickens raised in concentrated, industrial hen houses.

Another 1998 study found that the omega-3 content of pastured eggs was as much as 10 times higher than conventional eggs (i.e. the store-bought kind). And, although not a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the magazine Mother Earth News conducted its own nutrient analysis of pastured eggs and found that they contained a third less cholesterol, one-fourth less saturated fat, and seven times more beta carotene than what the USDA estimates is found in conventional, factory-farmed eggs.

What’s more, they found that pastured eggs contained up to six times more vitamin D, which nearly all Americans are deficient in and which can ward off multiple forms of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression while also boosting your immunity. Eggs from hens raised on pasture are far more nutritious than eggs from confined hens in factory farms.

Click here to download Mother Earth News full article on Better Eggs

* This post was originally published on June 28, 2011.