Monday, December 6, 2010

Organic Eggs Are Not All Good

Organic, "free-range" eggs from the grocery store are all pretty good, right?

Wrong.

The word "organic" on the package does not guarantee that the hens had humane treatment, space to move around, or access to the outdoors. And it doesn't guarantee that the eggs are healthy for you to eat, especially if you choose to eat your eggs raw. Pretty much all the word "organic" guarantees is that the hens received organic feed.

For the disheartening details, check this excellent report from the Cornucopia Institute, which includes a scorecard naming specific organic brands.

Also check Dr. Mercola's recent posts on the subject of eggs, here and here.

The solution:

Find a local farmer you trust, and buy your eggs from that farmer.

For reasons why, see my earlier post on the subject of Eggs of Known Origin.

This post is linked to from Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania.

10 comments:

Jenny said...

Here, Here! I can't eat store bought eggs anymore. Chickens NEED grass and bugs to make truly wonderful eggs.

Kim Green said...

I buy my eggs from Costco (of all places) that are certified organic, brown, cage-free and FREE ROAMING (that's the key) and around $5 for 18 eggs. Cage-free is not enough. Free roaming is what I look for.

Pamina said...

Yep! It is so sad right now, though, because the hens are not laying. Can't wait for the days to get a little longer so we can have more eggs again!

emma said...

Where do you buy your eggs? I would buy them from a farmer (and chicken too) but don't have a connection. Can you hook me up?
:)

Sarah, the Healthy Home Economist said...

Well said, Alex. The local farmer that supplies the 2 local food clubs I coordinate has molting chickens right now so the egg supply is wayyyy down. Folks are having to temporarily fill the gap with organic store eggs and they are garbage in comparison, not to mention so much more expensive than local, direct from a farmer! Thanks for sharing at Monday Mania!

Susan said...

My local health food store supplies Organic Valley eggs which have a "3" rating. I'm less crazy about the fact that they come from Wisconsin than the rating. Would much prefer supporting a smaller New England family farm, but finding some one who carries these along the south shore is practically impossible. Open to suggestions?!

Alex Lewin said...

Boston folks: Chip-In Farm in Bedford, http://chip-infarm.com/ , has good eggs, which are available in a few places around the area.

Alex Lewin said...

Kim: the Costco eggs may say "free-roaming" on them, but unless you know more about where they're from, that might not mean much. Click on the first picture on this page from the Cornucopia Institute website:

http://www.cornucopia.org/photo-gallery/?album=2&gallery=20&show=gallery

The chickens may be cage free, and may have access to outdoors space, but they may still live like this.

It's worth flipping through the Cornucopia Institute report (unless you're already having a bad day, in which case you should wait...).

Alex Lewin said...

Sarah, Pamina, thanks for your comments! I'm curious about egg storage. A farmer told me that if you *don't* wash or refrigerate your eggs, they will last longer, because of a protective coating on the outside of the shells, and because of the pores in the shells. Of course the USDA will have none of this.

Curious if you have any experience with this that you'd like to share.

Pamina said...

Yes, the eggs have a bloom on them so we never wash them unless they are REALLY dirty. The bloom does help protect them. We keep ours in the "root cellar" until we need them in the kitchen, but then I put them in the fridge. I've eaten them 6 weeks later like that. Also, when washing them you want to use hot water to keep the germs from going into the egg shell. I can't remember exactly, but it has to do with the nature of the shells porosity. Next year I'm going to freeze some in October so I at least have some to cook with when they aren't laying. Also looking into getting some breeds that are known to be winter layers.