Thursday, September 6, 2012

An Egg a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

It seems like a new study comes out every other day either for or against eggs. Are they good or are they bad? The answer depends on where they come from. Truly free range chickens who are allowed to wander around and eat naturally produce eggs that are packed with many nutrients. Chickens kept in cages and fed chicken "feed" produce less nutritious eggs which are often contaminated with antibiotics. These chickens are raised in very unsanitary, sad conditions. Not only do you not want to eat their eggs, you also don't want to support the industry that exploits them for profit.

Typical set up of egg-laying hens. They live in these cages their entire lives, never able to spread their wings and never ever see sunshine or touch grass.

You have to be very careful when buying eggs because the labels are purposely deceiving. "Free Range" legally only has to mean the chickens are allowed out for one hour per day, and this is rarely, if ever, enforced. "Cage Free" often means the chickens all live crammed in one giant building with no room to get away from the others. This often leads to horrible fights and even canabilism.

"Cage Free"-As you can see, they are not much better off than the caged hens. Eggs from these ladies could be labelled "Free Range" if the owners claim to let them outside once a day, even if that is a lie.

Eggs from happy chickens truly are good for you. They are excellent sources of protein for people who don't eat meat (like us!) because they contain many vitamins, such as B12, which are often lacking in vegetarian diets.

So, how do you find happy chicken eggs? Find a local farmer! Some small grocery stores carry "farm fresh brown eggs" from locals. Here in Athens we have them at the farmers' market, the health food store, a beauty parlor, and the drive thru coffee stand, just to name a few places. Find out where your eggs are coming from, don't just trust the package. It's best if you can form a personal relationship with your egg supplier so you truly know you can trust him/her.

Of course, you could start raising chickens yourself! It's not as crazy as it sounds. Lots of people are doing it these days, and we plan to as well once we find a place with more land. Check your local library for books on raising happy chickens. :)

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