What the Cluck? An Egg Primer

I’m sure you’ve heard the news?  Eggs are good for you.  Yup, word is slowly leaking out!  Eggs are a great source of protein which fills us up and keeps us feeling full longer.  They are a good source of vitamins A, B2, B12, E, phosphorous, iodine and selenium and contain just 70 to 85 calories per medium egg.  To top it off they are inexpensive, versatile and easy to prepare!

Organic, free range eggs

While eggs, especially yolks get a bad rap, their ability to raise cholesterol levels is unfounded.  Sure there was research which pointed to high cholesterol after consuming eggs, but this research was done on rabbits. Since when do rabbits eat eggs?  Rabbits are  vegetarian and unable to metabolize ingested cholesterol.  It’s no wonder they had high cholesterol levels after eating eggs!

There has been a trend toward eating just egg whites to avoid the calories, fat and the cholesterol found in egg yolk, but eating whole eggs is important as many important nutrients like folate, calcium, vitamin A and vitamin D are found in the yolk.  According to a University of North Carolina study in 2008, choline, which is also found in egg yolk, reduces the risk of breast cancer. 

If you are like many people, you can stand in front of the egg cooler for a long time trying to decide which eggs to buy:  omega-3 eggs, free range, free run, organic, brown, white or plain old regular eggs.  I looked into the different kinds available, so you can make a more informed choice!

Conventional eggs without specialized labeling likely come from factory hens which are confined in battery cages that leave them all but immobilized.  According to the WSPA, 6-8 hens are kept in a cage the size of a microwave oven.  This would be like 10 people living in a space the size of an elevator.  These hens are reduced to egg-laying machines which can’t even spread their wings. 

Hardy Orpington Chickens

According to the Get Cracking Website, free run eggs are produced by hens that roam in open-concept barns with slat or litter-covered floors equipped with nests and perches. Free range eggs are produced in a similar environment to free run eggs but the hens have access to outdoor runs as well. Due to the severe Canadian climate, outdoor access is only seasonally available.

Organic eggs are laid from hens that may be kept in any kind of caging system, but generally are cage free. They eat an organic feed free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers and gmo’s and don’t receive vaccines or antibiotics.

Omega-3 eggs come from chickens that are fed feed containing 10-20% fax seeds which are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.  The yolks of these eggs, therefore, are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, which we don’t get enough of.  These can be free run, free range, conventionally raised or organic, depending on the producer.

Recent findings from Penn State University revealed that the eggs of organically raised chickens which were allowed to forage had three times more omega-3 fats than their confined counterparts, along with 40 percent more vitamin A and twice as much vitamin E.

In case you are wondering, colour doesn’t matter!  Brown, white, green or cream, no egg colour offers better nutrition than the next.

When I was little, we would visit my Grandma’s house and she would serve eggs with bright yellow yolks.  These eggs came from chickens that were able to run around outside, pecking at grass and bugs.  The yolks tasted strong to me and weren’t my preference.  Little did I know that these were the most nutritious eggs, produced by chickens with a variety of feed, exercise and sunshine!  Living in town, I usually buy eggs at the farmer’s market from free range organically raised hens.  I like to think that happier hens produce happier eggs!

What's your favourite way to eat eggs?  Mine is poached, but they take a little longer to prepare and clean up after, so I usually fry/steam mine!  

This post has been shared at The Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways Wednesday Blog Hop.  Hop on over and check it out!  frugallysustainable.com 

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