Farm Fresh Eggs Vs Commercial Eggs - The Shocking Truth
Eggs are an absolute superfood. They are among the healthiest food a person can eat. Loaded with essential vitamins and protein, they provide so many nutritional benefits. This is why they are called, "The Incredible Edible Egg". Okay, that's an old ad campaign that probably just dated me.
I remember when I received my first carton of farm fresh eggs. A good friend of ours has a farm with a large flock of chickens and she was overran with eggs. I had never tried farm fresh eggs before and, as you can imagine, I was skeptical.
My skepticism was rooted in my belief that food from the grocery store was safer to eat than straight from a farm, but after making eggs with my batch of farm fresh eggs, I quickly realized that my belief system about our grocery store food couldn't be more wrong. Farm fresh eggs were AMAZING! They were fresh, rich in color and very flavorful.
It wasn't long and we began raising chickens in our backyard, which produced these beautiful eggs, and pretty soon, we found we had an abundance of them as well. The more research I did, the more aware I was about the truth to this incredible edible egg.
I have to warn you in advance, some of the information here is uncomfortable, so be prepared to be awakened to the truth about commercial eggs and what's in your fridge. The knowledge we don't know, is oftentimes, the knowledge that maybe we DO want to know, even if its hard to hear.
Commercial Eggs vs Farm Fresh Eggs
Lets begin with Commercial Eggs and how they come to be.
The vast majority of todays eggs comes from enormous indoor factory farms where chickens are crowded into cages. They cannot move, turn around, spread their wings and stretch. They are fed strictly a grain diet. Their waste piles up and is so concentrated that it actually burns their eyes from the ammonia. These conditions are claustrophobic, dark and stressful for them. Because of this, chickens tend to "peck" or strike at each other when they don't have enough space. Commercial farms will "de-beak" the chicken where the upper beak is painfully cut off. Hens do not receive veterinary care, so many of them suffer from infection, disease and other illness. When a hen quits laying, they are disposed of and their bodies are ground up for animal feed. These conditions, believe it or not, are mostly exempt from anti-cruelty laws as standard agricultural practices.
Here is a fun fact:
By law, an egg can be sold for up to 30 days after the date it was put in the carton. Farmers have up to 30 days from when the egg was laid and when it goes into the carton. This means that those supermarket eggs can be pretty old by the time you buy them.
Here's another fun fact:
When eggs are laid, there is a natural protective coating over the egg, called "the bloom" which prevents air seepage and bacteria from entering the shell. A freshly laid egg, with the bloom intact, can sit out on the counter without refrigeration for about 2 weeks. I've had them stay fresh for around 21 days. Once the egg is washed, the bloom is removed, and you must refrigerate it.
Commercial eggs are washed and sanitized, removing the protective bloom coating. This allows air to enter the egg through the porous shell. As this happens, the egg's nutritional value begins to slowly drop.
One way you can tell how old the eggs are at the store is the stamp on the carton. On each egg carton, there's a number from 1 to 365, called the Julian Date. That number represents the day of the year the carton was filled. 1 being January 1st and 365 being December 31st. This will at least tell you when the eggs were put into the carton.
For example, a carton with the code 355 means the eggs were put into the carton on December 21st, If you bought the carton on January 18th, that means the eggs are at least 28 days old.
LAST FUN FACT: Most cartons will have a BEST BY date or a SELL BY date.
The BEST BY, or use by date, cannot be more than 45 days past the packaging date. The SELL BY date cannot be more than 30 days past the packaging date.
The best way to get fresh eggs is from your own chickens or a local farmer, but if you are skeptical about farm fresh eggs still, you can check the codes on the side of the commercial eggs in the grocery store and at least choose the freshest ones.
Farm Fresh Eggs
Let's look at Farm Fresh Eggs. Now I use the term "Farm Fresh" but what I mean exactly is this: Farm fresh eggs, meaning eggs that have come from chickens raised on a farm and allowed to roam freely outside of a cage, consume a natural diet, forage in yards or pasture, and are treated humanely.
Because of the cruelty of commercial chickens in egg factories, creative labeling has been invented to soften the horrific practices; labeling such as "free range, cage free, organic, pasture raised, certified organic. We'll talk about the labeling more in depth later.
For now, lets go with REAL Farm Fresh Eggs, where animal cruelty doesn't exist.
Chickens are allowed to roam freely and forage for bugs and other things that they love to eat. They are given a nutritious, NON-GMO organic grain to eat to supplement their diet if they want it, but mostly their day is spent frolicking and exploring the farm, doing what chickens do best.
Inside their coop, where they come back to at dusk, there are nesting boxes where they comfortably lay eggs, and sometimes get broody, meaning they want nothing but to sit on their eggs and hatch them. Those that don't feel the need to lay, will perch.
Chickens will lay up to 2 eggs a day naturally. Usually chickens will begin laying between 6-8 months old, and lay for 8 months out of the year. Some chickens may lay through the winter but most will stop laying when the weather turns colder, giving their bodies a much needed rest.
Fun Fact: If there is not a rooster on the premises, the egg will never hatch, but contrary to popular belief, a hen does not need a rooster in order to lay eggs. She only needs a rooster in order to fertilize her eggs and make baby chicks.
The eggs are collected daily and can be used right away. I've had eggs that were still warm from being laid. It doesn't get fresher than that! Unwashed eggs can sit on the counter at room temperature for up to 21 days.
Fun Fact: Farm Fresh Eggs are EXTREMELY NUTRITIOUS. Compared to store bought eggs, studies have shown that they are lower in cholesterol, contain less saturated fat, and have a much higher value of Vitamins A, E and D. Additionally, farm fresh eggs contain 75% more beta carotene and up to 20 times more Omega-3 fatty acids. All of this is due to their natural diet they consume on a farm.
Farm fresh eggs also contain essential nutrients such as selenium, folate, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. With only 75 calories per egg, you can get up to 6 grams of protein, and 5 grams of healthy fat with just one.
Fun Fact: You can wait to wash your eggs right before you use them. This prolongs the shelf life of the egg and the egg will retain it's nutrition longer if it is unwashed. Once you wash your farm fresh eggs, you will need to either use them right away or refrigerate them for up to 2 weeks. They cannot sit out on the counter once they have been washed.
I have found a great benefit to cooking and baking with fresh eggs. Its a difference you have to experience to appreciate. Overall, farm fresh eggs are more flavorful, rich and I can tell you that once you start using farm fresh eggs, it is hard to go back to store bought eggs.
I hope this information has shed some light on eggs and what an amazing food they are. If you have any questions about chickens, I am happy to answer them for you. I would love to hear your thoughts on farm fresh eggs and what your experience has been. Please leave your comments below!