Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Get Crackin'

This morning I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine. I stumbled on an article about eggs.

You know I try to have the best quality food I can have in this house. I am particularly driven to buy organic produce, and organic hormone free dairy and meat. But eggs? Eggs have always mystified me. There are so many choices, even in the health food store, and under the 15 second pressure I have to make my selection I never can figure out which is "best".

When we're struggling financially eggs just seem like one of those things I'm willing to cut corners on. I hate to say this... but it has seemed to me that what I'm paying for is the quality of life for the chickens. And, believe me, I'm all for that. I really am. Enough to spend $3.79 a dozen... when... we have the money.

When we don't I need it for the diary, produce, and meat. Because that effects (in my opinion) the quality of life for my children.

But am I wrong?

Now that school is back in session and Kid takes a hardboiled egg in her lunch bag EVERY SINGLE DAY I make sure to buy the best quality I can afford. But for the eggs I bake with I might buy a cheaper dozen.

But when I think I've paid good money for good eggs and well treated hens... am I?

Turns out sometimes I'm not.

So here is the label breakdown according to Cooking Light:

Birds must be cage free with outdoor access
Cannot be given antibiotics
their food must be organic & vegetarian

Certified Humane Raised & Handled
Meet humane requirements for raising and handling chickens and eggs.

Cage Free
Chickens are out of cages with continuous access to food and water.
They may not have access to the outdoors.

Animal Welfare Approved
Independent family farms with flocks up to 500 birds.
Chickens are free to spend as much time as they desire outdoors on pesticide-free pasture.
Cannot have trimmed beaks.

United Egg Produces Certified
Gives food and water to caged hens.

The following terms are unregulated... so... it might not be wise to pay more for them (ouch! I have!! many times!):
Naturally Raised
No Hormones
No Antibiotics

So that is the long and the short of it. I am still unclear if "Free Range" has any meaning (I believe once I watched an expose that revealed that it did not mean what we'd think it meant). Or what it really matters (to me) what feed the chickens are fed (for our health)... in terms of eating their eggs not their meat. If I can find out I'll let you know.


northerngurl said...

It is confusing buying eggs! We also have Omega 3 eggs, Omega Pro, white, brown, the list goes on.I make an executive decision while at the store usually based on the quality of the egg, life of the hen and of course price. At least that's what I think I'm doing...too much time in the damn egg aisle!

Mrs Furious said...

You're not kidding. That is how I am in the egg aisle. It's ridiculous. I wish I just had a local egg person so I could get the eggs and be done with it.

smellyshelley said...

have you thought about getting urban chickens? they are pretty easy, low maintenance and most towns/cities have ordanances that allow you to have 3 or 4. plus it is fun for the girlies to raise the chicks (they grow super fast)...

michelline said...

Off topic (although I'm really glad you posted this as it's extremely educational and a subject I've often wondered about) - Tori's science project this year will be on the effects of butter, margarine, and shortening on cookies. I remember you posting about this so she might just use you for a reference (if you don't mind!).

I actually have no clue how she arrived at this proposal, but it could be a good project. Good for the grade if not the waistline!

Mrs Furious said...

That will be a fun project! I'm going to keep that in mind for Kid when she has to come up with one.

No problem. Let me know if she needs any info. I've got my culinary textbooks.

I have thought about it. If I thought we'd be here for a while I'd do it. I think Kid would really enjoy it. I might look into it when (PLEASE) we get settled some place else. I also want bees...

Staci said...

Like you (& many) have said, buying eggs shouldn't be so confusing!

I know we spend SO much of our weekly grocery budget on eggs & chicken parts it's just gotten crazy. The boys are getting older & eating more & MORE.

We have decided to raise chickens(layers & meat types) starting in the spring.

This way we KNOW what went into our chickens & what we will be getting out.

I'm excited but also scared a bit. I've never been a chicken lover & I'm not afraid to say...they scare me a little. LOL!

Mrs Furious said...

" I'm not afraid to say...they scare me a little."

bwahaha... you & me both ;)

Mr Furious said...

Omega III has to do with their feed I believe.

One thing we've discovered is that the fresher an egg is, the harder it is to peel hard-boiled.

At my old job, one of my co-workers raised chickens and those eggs were so fresh (except that one!) that it was impossible to peel them.

It was cool because she had a variety of different chickens so he eggs would be all different colors. Some green, blue, and the yolks were dark yellow and stood tall.

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