THIS IS THE REASON I GROW MY OWN FOOD!!
I want to bring this to your attention, and I want you to do your own research, but I’ll get you started.
If you don’t already know this, the USDA is in charge of the labeling on the egg cartons you buy at the grocery store. Most United States mass-produced eggs come from chickens who spend their entire short lives in cages that are barely large enough to turn around in. They don’t peck around a grassy area, they don’t scratch in the dirt, they don’t roll around in dust baths, they don’t roost at night, they don’t eat bugs, they don’t do all the chicken things.
The USDA has come up with an answer to that. Let’s become more humane by housing chickens differently and labeling those eggs differently.
Hey, CAGE FREE sounds good!
If you purchase the eggs that are labeled CAGE FREE, you are purchasing mass-produced eggs from chickens who live in warehouses. Chickens who are piled on top of each other. Chickens who never see the light of day. No, they don’t live in cages, so nobody is actually lying to you, but please understand those CAGE FREE chickens don’t ever see the sun or the grass or the bugs. Regulations require them to be able to move horizontally and vertically in an indoor area. They do frequently get to step over their dead comrades, and I can’t even imagine the smell and filth.
Well, maybe CAGE FREE isn’t so great. How about FREE RANGE?
If you purchase eggs that are labeled FREE RANGE, you are purchasing eggs from chickens that must have access to the outside; however, the regulations are sketchy, so depending on the farm, this may mean an outdoor fenced run or only a warehouse door propped open.
You may think the USDA is assisting you in your purchase, protecting the welfare of the animal, and helping you be healthy, but believe it or not, the USDA labels only denote the type of housing the hens are kept in. Period. The USDA has completed NO STUDIES on the nutritional value of eggs from any of their different labels.
What does this mean for your nutrition? Well, you get to FEEL better emotionally for buying CAGE FREE or FREE RANGE labels. You don’t necessarily get to feel better physically.
My next gripe is the egg marketing. If eggs are the world’s perfect food, why do they keep pushing us to only eat egg whites? I’ll give you some USDA nutritional info below on that one, and let me say, you’d be better off just eating the carton.
Now, what if, yes, what if, we had our chickens pecking around the yard doing all the chicken things? What if homeowner’s associations got the heck out of the way of people’s lives and health? What if the large chicken production machine learned to move chickens on pasture? Yes, those are called PASTURE RAISED. Those eggs ARE available if you look for them locally, and strangely enough, there HAS been nutritional studies done on pasture raised eggs by many large farms (not by the USDA). The one I note below is from Polyface Farm in Virginia.
I’m going to put this all together in a convenient and handy chart. First, the USDA study of the nutrition in the average (read “store bought”) egg. Second, the nutrition of that oh-so-healthy egg white you’re supposed to be eating instead, so you can be healthier. And, lastly, the nutrition of the pasture raised egg. (This is by no means a complete analysis or a complete list of vitamins, just a synopsis of a quick search. If you get taken aback at the cholesterol content, please do some research on that. The same people labeling your eggs are the same people giving you advice about your cholesterol.)
My goal here is that you research for yourself. Visit the USDA site, find some various egg nutrition studies, then just maybe, GO BUY YOURSELF SOME CHICKENS!
|EGG WHITE |
|PASTURE RAISED |
at POLYFACE FARM
|Folate||45 mcg||0||1037 mcg|
|Beta Carotene||10 mcg||0||76.2 mcg|
|Vitamin E||.97 mg||0||7.37 mg|
|Vitamin A||487 IU||0||763 IU|
|Omega 3||.03 g||0||.71 g|
|Cholesterol||423 mg||0||292 mg|
|Saturated Fat||3.1 g||0||2.3 g|