one of these things just doesn't belong.
Can you guess which egg was laid by a caged factory-farm hen?
Guess before my rhyme is done....
The two eggs above are from a local organic farmer whose hens graze on grass in the lovely outdoors. The yolks measure roughly around 1 TBS. The bottom egg, whose yolk is approximately 1.5 tsp, is from one of the generic store-brand eggs which one can only assume are raised in less-than-humane conditions (at worst). At best, they are raised in an unnatural environment and given rancid feed that forces them to produce an abnormally large amount of eggs.
The above image is courtesy of the folks down under at this website. These conditions make me shudder! Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with factory farms if your conscience is not yet pricked.
Cost is by far the main reason why people buy these eggs. We Americans have grown accustomed to getting eggs cheaply, and the thought of paying $4.00 for a dozen eggs sends most people over the edge.
This blog is about eating organic, nutritionally-dense food on a budget. So how do I justify buying organic, free-range eggs?
De-mystifying free-range eggs:
1. Cut out the middle man. If you're shopping at Whole Foods , Trader Joe's, or Safeway and expecting to find organic, free-range eggs for a good price you probably won't. Instead, find a local farmer who raises hens on pasture and has extra eggs for sale. I've found free-range, hormone-free eggs sold on Craigslist for as little as $2.50 per dozen! Other helpful sites are Pick Your Own and Eat Wild. I found my current egg farmer at the local farmer's market (many farmers raise eggs, but don't necessarily bring them to market!) For $3.75 a dozen, I get certified organic, free-range pastured Large eggs (as seen above!).
2. It's not just about being "cruelty free".... although that's certainly worth paying for in my book. An egg's not just an egg.....eggs laid by hens who are free to forage and eat worms and small insects have a whole different nutritional profile than eggs dropped by confined hens. The former contain much higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin E for starters. Mother Earth News did a comparison study of the nutritional content of store bought vs. free range eggs:
3. Are they really more expesive? Let's see, my farmer eggs are twice as large as Safeway's, which sold for $1.29. I would need twice as many of the Safeway eggs to equal the amount of eggs from my organic eggs, but that still only puts the Safeway eggs at $2.58 .
But if you look at nutritional content (as displayed in the graph above), you're getting at least 4x more grams of Omega 3 and 4x more mcgs of Beta Carotene. There's 50% more Vitamin E in a Free Range egg, and 50% less cholesterol! (Remember that Total ceral commercial from the 80s? Or maybe you're more familiar the Phil Hartman's SNL parody "Colon Blow"...youtube it)
You'd have to buy 4 times the factory-farmed eggs to equal the nutrition found in 1 dozen free-range eggs! Don't forget, that would also mean you'd have to consume 4x as many calories and twice as much cholesterol..that puts the cost of Safeway eggs at $5.20 vs. $3.75 for my nutritionally superior, humanely-raised, local eggs!