City Chicks: Keeping Micro-flocks of Laying Hens as Garden Helpers, Compost Makers, Bio-recyclers and Local Food Suppliers and feel compelled to share a few things I found interesting. See, recently we have been obtaining our eggs from a friend of a friend who is a vegetarian raising pastured hens and turkeys as egg-layers only. Having eaten store-bought eggs (and having insisted those eggs AT LEAST be cage-free) for many years, I can honestly tell you there is a HUGE difference between the two. I consider these pastured, non-fertilized, huge (some can barely fit in a standard egg carton), pesticide-hormone free, glop-free (ya know that egg glop you get in store bought eggs? None here), bright yellow-orange yolked beauties as gold. Let me just give you a brief difference in their nutritional value as well:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more vitamin A
2-4 times more Omega-3
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more Beta Carotene
Is that not worth a few extra dollars a dozen? I think so. That's like popping vitamins. On top of that, you're supporting local farmers (or co-op partners), you're NOT supporting the extremely abusive factory farms (laying hens are the most abused animals in our country), you're supporting a sustainable system from an animal eating a natural diet from a person who loves their biddies (sorry, but the hens laying eggs for the grocery store and that you buy in restaurants are not eating healthy diets, they are in fact, eating antibiotics, hormones, rendered animals and pesticides - and yes, even the 'free range', which are NOT AT ALL 'free range' - look it up - or better yet, watch Food, Inc, - are eating the same diet as the others).
As a vegetarian hoping to someday be a vegan (fear, someday you will be mine) I probably should be encouraging you to abstain from all eggs. I guess as much as I like to live in a bubble, the realist in me says it ain't gonna happen in my lifetime with 98% of the population consuming eggs. So, what I really want to do is encourage you to find a local source and stop, TODAY, from ever ever ever buying another dozen of store bought factory 'farmed' eggs, and seriously reconsider eating eggs at restaurants. You can't taste the hormones and pesticides, but unfortunately, we are what our food eats.
The City Chicks book is a great read (you can skip over the parts about raising hens if it doesn't interest you), but the info on hens (the author rescues and adopts most of her hens) as composters, bug eaters, and garden helpers is fascinating. She also recaps the abuses of factory farming and highlights, again, why it's in our best interest to steer away - very far away - from industrial eggs, milk, and meat. Sometime do a google search and read about what the effects of eating these toxic industrial foods is doing to our (and our children's) endocrine systems. It's a slow poison. It doesn't taste like it, but do a little digging and you'll see it's there.
Also, with the oil spilling in the Gulf as I'm typing this, here is something I found rather interesting:
"Every man, woman, and child in this country requires one gallon of oil per day, just to bring food to their table...the average food item travels more than 1,500 miles...and the total energy output of processing, packaging, transporting, and storing foods is greater than the calories consumed...how sustainable is that?" - Patricia Foreman
"If every US citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meat and produce, we would reduce our country's oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. Small changes in buying habits can make a big difference. Becoming a less energy-dependent nation may just need to start with a good breakfast" - Barbara Kingsolver
Aside: it only takes 3 laying hens (no roosters!) to provide all the unfertilized eggs you need for a family of 4 and you might even have some left over to give to friends, so they too, can stop buying store eggs. We are paying only $2 a dozen for our un-fertilized happy hen eggs. It can be done. Ask around.
I leave you with a few links:
* Free Range Eggs Versus Confined Grain Fed Chicken Eggs
* Pastured Eggs
* Buy Pastured Eggs and Chicken, Not "Free Range"
* How Free is Free-Range