Milwaukee Edition

Eggs-pert Advice

How to Buy Good Eggs from Happy Hens

chrisdorney/Shutterstock.com

Janice Cole, the author of Chicken and Egg: A Memoir of Suburban Homesteading with 125 Recipes, knows how delicious a really fresh egg tastes. She keeps three chickens she calls “the girls” in the backyard of her suburban Minneapolis home. “Jasmine, a white Silkie, lays small, beige-colored eggs; Keiko a black and white Ameraucana and Silver Wyandotte cross, green eggs; and Peanut, a brown, feathery Cochin mix, brown eggs,” relates Cole.

Cole has learned a lot about the natural lives of chickens. They need 14 hours of sunlight to produce eggs and lay about one per day. Chickens must be protected from predators, locked up at night in their coop for optimal well-being and let out in the morning to roam. Here are some tips for buying the freshest, most delicious and humanely raised chicken eggs.

How to Read an Egg Carton

Deciphering the language on an egg carton is a first step. Diet affects flavor. “Eggs from pasture-raised chickens allowed to roam—eating grass, worms and bugs in the backyard or a pasture—will look and taste better than eggs from chickens limited to an inside space eating chicken feed,” says Cole. “Pasture-raised eggs will have a fresh herbaceous, or grassy, flavor with an ‘egg-ier’ essence.”

“Look for the terms organic, free range or ideally, pastured or pasture-raised,” advises Adele Douglass, in Herndon, Virginia, executive director of Humane Farm Animal Care.

“USDA Organic” is a U.S. Department of Agriculture label confirming that the food the chicken ate was certified organic. “Non-GMO” indicates a diet free of genetically modified ingredients. “Free-range”, another USDA label, means the chicken had continuing access to the outdoors. “Pasture-raised” assures that the chicken roamed outdoors daily, eating what they wanted; the ideal scenario.

“Cage-free” is a USDA-regulated designation ensuring that the chickens were allowed to roam freely about within their building to get food and water. “Natural” has no real meaning says Douglass; the term invokes no USDA regulation and nothing about actual farming practices. “Certified Humane” or “Animal Welfare Approved” means that each free-range hen has at least two square feet of outdoor space; it’s the most desirable designation, says Douglass.

More than 90 percent of eggs sold today come from giant egg factories.
~ Pete and Gerry’s, America’s first Certified Humane egg producer

When farmers want to raise egg-laying chickens, they need to provide physical conditions similar to those Cole affords, but on a larger and more efficient scale, usually without the love. In regions where 14 hours of daylight are not a given, farmers use artificial lighting. When snow is too deep for the birds to venture out and it’s too cold for bug life, farmers supply indoor coops and feed. How well and humanely they do this is up to consumers to find out.

Egg Nutrition

Eating one egg a day, or moderate consumption, will not raise cholesterol levels in healthy adults, concludes a 2012 review in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. While egg yolks contain cholesterol, they also possess nutrients that help lower the risk for heart disease, including protein, vitamins B12 and D, riboflavin and folate, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, in Boston. A study by Kansas State University researchers published in the 2001 Journal of Nutrition also found that phosphatidylcholine, another substance in eggs, can decrease the amount of cholesterol the body absorbs from them.

Plus, eggs are great sources of micronutrients and antioxidants, says Kristin Kirkpatrick, a registered and licensed dietitian and wellness manager for Cleveland Clinic’s Wellness Institute, in Ohio. “I’ve always been a huge proponent for eggs. As lean sources of protein, they help us stay full, are easy to prepare and can be part of a healthy eating regime because they’re packed with free-radical- and inflammation-fighting antioxidants.” Kirkpatrick adds, “Eggs also help protect eyes. Their nutrient-rich yolks, like leafy green vegetables, are high in lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that studies have repeatedly shown help protect against macular degeneration.”

Ideally, all chickens would be treated like Cole’s “girls.” For now, the best most of us can do is choose “Pasture-Raised,” “Organic” and “Certified Humane”. Getting to know more about the farmers that produce our eggs is even better.


Judith Fertig writes food health articles and cookbooks from Overland Park, KS (JudithFertig.com).

 

Eggs to Trust

Bozena Fulawka/Shutterstock.comHere’s Humane Farm Animal Care’s Adele Douglass’ short list of sources for well-raised eggs.

Kirkland Signature Organic Eggs, at Costco, are Certified Humane. While not pasture-raised, they’re cage-free. Costco has partnered with several small family farms throughout the country, which guarantees peace of mind for Costco and gives these smaller purveyors a steady stream of business.

Vital Farms, of Austin, Texas, supplies eggs to stores throughout many of the southern and western states. They specialize in Pasture-Raised and Certified Humane eggs, produced by about 90 family farms. Recently, they pioneered a process to make “culling” (killing non-egg-bearing male chicks) more humane.

Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, headquartered in Monroe, New Hampshire, works with more than 30 family farms in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Their eggs are Organic and Certified Humane, as the chickens live in spacious barns with outdoor access. “Most of the year, they roam outside our barns as they please on organically grown grass amid clover and wildflowers,” says owner Jesse Laflamme. “At the same time, we also have to ensure our hens are safe from predators and communicable diseases from wild birds.”


This article appears in the April 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

New Musical Yoga Studio Opening in Shorewood

Sacred Sound Yoga, a unique musical studio opening in October, will hold yoga classes that include sacred sound healing and beautiful original music played by owner Rosie Rain and her friends.

Santosha Yoga & Ayurveda Welcomes Swami Yatidharmananda

In September, Swami Yatidharmananda will travel from India to appear at Santosha Yoga & Ayurveda, in Delafield, to teach his unique practices of mindfulness, meditation and living a spiritual life of devotion.

Enjoy Free Yoga at Rise Yoga Studio’s Open House

Rise Yoga Studio is celebrating one year in Mequon with an open house from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m., September 15.

Experience the Plant-Based Lifestyle at Vegan Sol Food & Drink Expo

The Vegan Sol Food & Drink Expo, an event celebrating all aspects of vegan lifestyles, takes place 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 22 at Nicolet High School, in Glendale.

School of Sound and Healing Fall Certification Program

Angel Light Center for the Healing Arts, a resource for health, healing and spiritual development, begins its School of Sound and Healing fall certification program November 2 through 4, in Elm Grove.

Heal the Past and Enjoy Present Happiness Through Mindfulness Workshop

On Wednesdays from October 17 through December 12, psychologist Susan Trafton will lead an eight-week class—Engage the Body, Open the Heart, Heal the Mind—at GreenSquare Integrative Health Care Center from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Natural Health Services Welcomes New Naturopathic Doctor

Dr. Mary Simon, a naturopathic doctor, is now accepting patients at Natural Health Services, located on Milwaukee’s East Side.

Open the Heart at 
Midwest Yoga and Kirtan Fest

Kirtan—call-and-response chants set to music—began in India centuries ago as a spiritual practice and a layman’s way to connect with the divine.

Letter from Publisher

Natural Awakenings is just one of many publications delivering cutting-edge information about natural, noninvasive, non-pharmaceutical health remedies presented by health and wellness advocates, scientists and researchers.

Dirt Houses Cancer-Protective Microbe

Soil contains bacteria that kills melanoma cancer cells, say Oregon State University researchers.

Doctors Underestimate Opioid Prescriptions

A survey of 109 emergency room doctors found they frequently underestimated how often they prescribed opioids and that they prescribed fewer when alerted to the situation.

Asthma Less Likely to Afflict Breastfed Kids

Dutch children that had been breastfed had a 45 percent lower incidence of asthma later in childhood.

Add your comment: