Updated: Jun 8, 2020
MOST SUPER MARKETS DON’T SUPPORT LOCAL FARMERS
While it's not true of every grocery store, the large majority of markets do not support local farmers. While the corporate strangle hold on America grows stronger by the day, small family farms and local community main streets are failing at a record pace. Supporting local small businesses is more important now than ever! Buying eggs from small family farms, is not only better for your community, but if you are comparing "apples to apples" (eggs to eggs) it's more often than not cheaper. The price of a dozen free range, organic cage free eggs at our local market last we checked was over $3 a dozen. It's likely you wouldn't have to try very hard to find someone in your area raising cage free eggs from free range chickens. If you don't know anyone personally, it can be as simple as getting involved in a Facebook chicken group and putting out a feeler post about looking for an egg seller. You will have a plethora of comments in a hot minute. Even if you live in an urban area, there are chicken farmers out there who travel to make deliveries into cities for small independent restaurants and even deliveries to multiple families in larger metros. Many cities now allow urban families to raise chickens in their own back yards as well. Buying eggs locally helps keep revenue in your community and prevents cash and tax dollars flow from the vacuum of the corporate ladder.
FACTORY CHICKENS ARE OFTEN MISTREATED
Eggs purchased at your local chain supermarket come from factory farms. Many factory farms take advantage of the USDA's lax definition of the terms "free range" and "cage free." Their definition of cage free requires the chicken only to have "access to the outside". This often results in chickens being provided only a "pop-hole" for them to stick their head out of and never provides an opportunity for the hens to get their full body out of their cage or enclosure. The large majority of these farms keep their hens tightly crammed into small cages stacked on top of each other. Even when chickens are let out to eat, it's often for short periods of time and their "free ranging" is in fact confined to windowless buildings with cement floors, they are fed only pellet food and often are injected with a steady diet of antibiotics from birth until their final laying days. At Happy Hen Haven we believe true free range, cage free chickens are afforded the right to act like birds, pecking, scratching and foraging for grass, wildflowers, seeds, insects and even fruit on an open plot. Healthy hens can live up to 8 years and can productively lay for 2-3 years. This number is closer to the 2 year mark or less for mistreated caged factory hens. Unproductive hens at factory farms who have passed their laying prime are often times asphyxiated or gassed with Co2 and disposed of by rendering or sent to landfills. And worse yet roosters who are of little to no value at hatcheries are killed at birth. Some factory farms grind them up alive or they are cull them in-humanely by other means. Many small local farmers will re-home unproductive chickens or process them as a meal as opposed to killing them using cruel factory farm methods.
STORE BOUGHT EGGS ARE NOT AS NUTRITIONAL
You are what you eat. This goes for chickens and humans alike. An egg produced by a chicken who's been free to forage for food will have a thicker and stronger shell, a darker, meatier yolk and a heavier less runny white. Chicken’s bodies are no different than ours. You get out of them what you put into them. An organic healthy diet leads to an organic healthy egg. And when the eggs you bake with and consume are organic you yourself will in turn be healthier. Studies have shown farm fresh eggs have less saturated fat, less cholesterol, more omega-3 fatty acids and more beta carotene.
A COMMERCIAL EGG’S PROTECTIVE COATING HAS BEEN REMOVED
A fresh laid chicken egg has a natural coating on it called "bloom" or cuticle. The bloom is nature's natural calcium rich coating which covers and seals the pores of an egg and provides a protective layer against bacteria and keeps moisture from permeating from within the egg. The bloom can also keep your eggs from absorbing whatever odor is floating around your refrigerator. Because Americans are uber obsessive about "sanitary" practices the USDA requires all eggs available for retail sale to be sanitized. Factory production eggs are washed, sanitized often with bleach or other chemical rich detergents, then coated with oil, subsequently removing the eggs protective bloom. So let's recap here. The bloom protects the egg from bacteria, but the the factory's scrub off the very coating nature intended to protect from bacteria to protect us all from bacteria and clean them with bleach or other detergents? Yes. It's no wonder we are bombarded with a new story in the media each week about eggs or egg products being recalled due to salmonella contamination. Did you know the eggs sold in the U.S. would not be legal for sale in nearly every other developed country. Many of the European nations ban the washing of eggs prior to being made available for retail sale. That's right! You will have to go to Europe to get your dirty eggs. And you won't find their eggs in the refrigerated section either. They sit at room temperature on shelves along side the other fresh produce.
STORAGE AND SHELF LIFE OF STORE BOUGHT EGGS IS DIMINISHED
As we just discussed in the previous segment an egg's bloom is essential to the egg remaining safe to eat. The bloom also contributes to the extended shelf life of an egg. Freshly laid eggs with their bloom intact can sit on a counter at room temperature for at least a month before you need to think about refrigerating them. And for those store bought eggs you recently purchased from the refrigerated section at your local supermarket? Get them home before they get too warm and get them in the refrigerator ASAP or you run the risk of......you guessed it.... SALMONELLA poisoning! And it's not entirely impossible for the batch of eggs you purchased at the grocery store to have been six months old by the time they reach your home. Check the carton. It will have a date stamp on the outside of it. Are eggs which have been refrigerated for 6 months unsafe? No, not necessarily. But, if I had to choose between a 6 month refrigerated bloom-less store bought or a refrigerated farm fresh egg with its bloom still intact, I'll take the farm fresh egg.
A NOTICEABLE DIFFERENCE WHEN BAKING AND COOKING
While there may not be a discernible difference in the flavor of your angel food cake or soup noodles once cooked, you will find a stark contrast in how your goods containing eggs hold together. Eggs act as a binder for other ingredients. So if your eggs are of the farm fresh variety, having thicker yolks and whites, your baking experience will be a far more successful one than your experience using their store bought less nutritional counter parts.
THE FLAVOR OF STORE BOUGHT EGGS IS NO MATCH FOR FARM FRESH
It's really quite simple. Farm Fresh eggs just taste better. Prove me wrong. I'm not scurrrrrrred. While this is not an all inclusive list of reasons to buy farm fresh eggs, we feel this information alone is enough to sway even the staunchest skeptics. From all of us at Happy Hen Haven, we wish you a happy baking, healthy living and local supporting lifestyle. Peace!