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Eggs and Free-Range Chickens

What's the Cluck?


At Earth Song Farm we feed our animals Organic, “Soy-Free” and Non-GMO feed so that our eggs, chicken and goat milk are the best we can offer. We want you to know why, so you can make informed choices on what you feed your family.

What’s all the Cluck? ....

     With all the different advertising “catch words” on egg carton labels, how can the average person make an informed choice as far as the health of their family is concerned?

     Many negative articles about eggs and public statements by groups such as the American Heart Association linking eggs, blood cholesterol and heart disease is associated with the decline in egg consumption.

     Eggs, along with butter, raw milk, vegetable oils, “lite” foods, artificially sweetened foods, to name a few, have been debated and debunked, and proved by clinical studies, then disproved by more studies, ad nauseum.

     Fortunately, people are becoming more health conscious, doing their own research (there’s plenty of info on the web), and waking up to what makes sense. We are seeing right through the fancy advertising of the food industry as they try to persuade us to buy their products (could it have something to do with “money”?).

     When it comes to factory-raised, processed and manipulated foods, let us simply ask......

     Do we think we know better than Mother Nature and our Creator?

Let's try to sort it out....

     Conventional eggs - These eggs come from chickens raised in industrial mega-factories. The hens live in battery cages which can be stacked as tall as two stories high, with about six hens per cage. This gives each hen a space about 3/4 the size of a sheet of notebook paper.

conventional chicken egg factory
conventional chicken egg factory

     The hens have part of their beaks removed so that they can't peck each other to death, at least not as quickly. They spend their whole lives in these cages, only leaving when they die or are ready to be butchered.

     They are fed conventional food, which includes non-organic GM (genetically modified) grains and GM soy. Around 90% of corn and soy grown in America is genetically modified, thanks to Monsanto.

     The toxins from pesticides and herbicides are stored in the fat of these chickens and their tightly packed living conditions make exercise difficult. It's no surprise that these chickens are unhealthy and can harbor diseases like salmonella.

     Antibiotics are often used to rid conventional chickens of diseases. Conventional eggs have abnormally high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. High levels of omega-6 fatty acids may increase your risk for cancer, obesity and heart disease.

     Cage-free - These chickens do not live in cages but typically live inside a hen house without access to the outdoors. There are no rules giving them access to the outdoors and sunlight or governing what they eat. They can (and usually are) kept confined to a crowded building under 24-hour lighting, and given antibiotics to keep diseases under control and hormones to keep productivity up.

cage-free conventional chicken factory
cage-free conventional chicken factory

     Free-range - Although technically “free-range” could just mean that the hens are out of a cage, these chickens usually have a covered shelter and access to an outside scratch yard, but may not neccesarily go outdoors. They are usually fed convential feed. Truly free-range chickens roam pastures and woodlands where they can get sunshine, worms and bugs, which is the ideal feed for health and strong immunity. Unfortunately, the only way one can really know how the chickens are raised is to visit the farm and see for yourself.

true free-ranging chickens
true free-ranging chickens

     Organic - These chickens eat feed and grains that were not genetically modified or grown with pesticides. The hens may not be given any synthetic chemicals, antibiotics or hormones, and must have access to fresh air, but even "organic" hens are not required to be given access to the outdoors and sunlight. Picture a somewhat crowded building with a screen on one side. This can qualify as "organic" chicken housing. Generally the hens are fed vegetarian feed, which we disapprove of because chickens are omnivores and need some animal protein in their diet, like insects or worms. They also thrive on fresh green vegetation, which they may or may not be given in a "factory organic" farm.

Why we feed our chickens Organic, “Soy-Free” and Non-GMO feed.

     Vegetarian fed - This may appeal to people who are vegetarians, but these eggs are not necessarily good for you. Chickens need protein to develop properly (that's why bugs are a part of their natural diet). Vegetarian fed does not necessarily mean organic, so there may be antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, genetically modified corn and GM soy. These chickens usually don't go outdoors, or if they do, it would mean a confined bare lot.

     White vs. brown eggs - The shell color depends on the breed of chicken. Brown eggs are typically “farm” eggs and are more likely to be free-range and without antibiotics or hormones.

     High Omega 3 - This simply means that a supplement such as flax seed oil is added to the regular feed which raises the omega 3 level. The chickens are usually commercially raised which means conventional feed, genetically modified corn and soy, pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. The overall nutrient content is ususally still sub-standard compared to organically fed, free-range chickens.

How can you tell a good egg?....

     It is very easy - just look at the yolks. You are getting really healthy eggs if the yolks are bright orange yellow. Also when you break an egg open, the yolk and white will “stand up” higher from a fresh, healthy egg.

     If you are ever unsure about the freshness of an egg, just put it in a pan of plain water. If it sinks and rests horizontally, it's good. As it ages, the air cell inside gets bigger and the large end of the egg will begin to rise to a vertical position. If an egg is old, it will float on the surface and should not be eaten.

pale yolk vs. rich orange yolk commercial egg yolk vs. free-range organic egg yolk

     Blood spots occur when blood or a bit of tissue is released along with a yolk. As an egg ages, the blood spots become paler, so a bright red spot is an indication of freshness. Blood spots occur in less than one percent of all eggs laid, and may appear in a pullet’s first eggs, but are more likely to occur in aging hens. Eggs containing these spots are perfectly edible.

Nutrients and benefits....

     Eggs are an ancient food. Man has always eaten the eggs of all animals that produced them: chicken, duck, goose, turtles, etc. Caviar and roe (the eggs from fish) are very special foods. Eggs are foods of reproduction and so therefore are good for our reproductive organs. They are very beneficial for pregnant and nursing woman.

Eggs are an incredible source of nutrients eggs - a great source of nutrition

You ARE what your chickens eat...
Why we feed our chickens
Organic, “Soy-Free” and Non-GMO feed.

     Eggs are an inexpensive and incredible source of high-quality protein, vitamins A and D, folic acid. phosphorus, sulfur and the adrenal-building minerals: choline, sodium and potassium. Eating eggs on a daily basis may prove to hold numerous health benefits, especially a decreased risk of heart disease.

     Protect your eyes - The lutein found in eggs can help prevent macular degeneration. While most people associate carotenoids with vegetables, eggs are actually a very good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, which are yellow or orange carotenoids. These carotenoids are known to accumulate in the eye lens and macular region of the retina. Look for eggs with dark orange/yellow yolks.

     Keep your brain healthy - Eggs are an excellent dietary source of choline, a dietary component essential for normal function of all cells and an essential nutrient for infant brain development. Impaired memory, difficulty concentrating and cognitive decline as we age are symptoms lacking this essential nutrient.

     Improve heart health - Choline converts homocysteine into harmless material. Homocysteine is the substance that can damage your blood vessels and is a precursor to heart disease. Eggs can also decrease your risk for heart attacks and stroke thanks to the anti-clotting agent found in yolks.

     Nourish expecting mothers and their babies - Egg yolks contain high levels of biotin, a B vitamin that can prevent birth defects. Egg yolks should be a baby's first animal food and can be introduced around six months.

     Aid in fat assimilation - Eggs yolks contain lecithin. Lecithin is the precursor to choline, which helps lower serum cholesterol.

My doctor says I should watch my cholesterol.....

     Do eggs adversely affect cholesterol levels? Most people would answer, "yes" without even thinking twice. However, this seems to be a popular misconception not supported by the evidence. It is now known that there is little if any connection between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.

     What researchers in previous studies never took into account while studying the link between bad cholesterol and eggs are the specific subclasses of LDL cholesterol. The smaller subfractions of LDL are more dangerous and associated with an increased risk of heart disease, while the larger ones are not dangerous.

     Nutrient intake, egg intake, socio-demographic data and blood cholesterol levels of over 27,000 subjects were grouped according to the occurrence and frequency of egg consumption. Daily nutrient intake of people consuming eggs was significantly greater than non-egg eaters for all nutrients studied, except dietary fiber and vitamin B6.

     They also note that dietary cholesterol was not related to serum cholesterol concentration. As a matter of fact, people who reported eating four eggs a week had a significantly lower mean serum cholesterol concentration than those who reported eating one egg a week.

     There have also been a number of recent studies that have supported the idea that eggs do not increase your risk of heart disease. So rest assured, you can go ahead have your eggs, for they are one of the healthiest foods in the world.

What about salmonella?....

     With all the warnings about salmonella, many people fear soft-cooked and raw eggs. The real key to avoiding the dangers of salmonella and other pathogens is in the inner ecosystem: yours AND the chicken who laid the egg. When you eat organic eggs from free-range pasture-fed chickens, they too have been following a healthy, natural diet of worms and bugs and microflora found in the soil. This diet builds a healthy inner ecosystem that can protect them from harmful pathogens.

The refrigeration myth....

     The best way to purchase eggs is directly from the farmer, unwashed and unrefrigerated. Store them on top of your refrigerator, not in it. Eggs have a natural protective coating that helps them last longer if not washed off. Most of the world stores their eggs this way; they do not refrigerate them, and do not wash them until ready to use. Eggs can easily last a month or more unrefrigerated like this.

farm eggs do not need refrigeration

     If you cannot find a farmer to sell you eggs directly, then organic eggs from the store would be your next best option. Refrigeration does allow them to last longer but they lose some of their nutritional value this way. Also conventional eggs from the store may have taken several weeks or more to get there, and they may have sat around for some time before they were even packed. The “packed-on” date doesn't necessarily mean they were layed that day.

The best way to eat eggs....

     Our research shows that the best way to consume eggs is raw, as they are found in nature. Eggs generally are one of the most allergic foods that are eaten, but it is believed this is because they are cooked. If one consumes the eggs in their raw state the incidence of egg allergy virtually disappears. Heating the egg protein actually changes its chemical shape, and this distortion cannot be handled as well by your body leading to allergies.

     It is advised to consume your eggs with as little cooking as possible. Remember that salmonella is not typically a problem if you are careful about the type of eggs you select.

     If you just have to cook your eggs, the less you cook them the better, and under low heat. Valuable nutrients like lutein and other powerful antioxidants are destroyed when they are exposed to high temperatures.

References.... - the #1 alternative health information resource on the web - The Weston Price Foundation

Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon

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