Monday, August 23, 2010

Eat Real Eggs (Eggs Of Known Origin)

Salmonella outbreaks, probably affecting 1,300 people, have put eggs in the news recently. 550 million eggs have been recalled from Wright County Egg and from Hillandale Farms in Iowa.

550 million eggs. From two farms.

A large egg is about 2.25 inches long. If you laid 550 million eggs end to end, it would reach more than 3/4 of the way around the earth.

That's a lot of eggs.

Both of these farms are linked to a certain Austin "Jack" DeCoster, a "habitual violator" of environmental regulations, according to the state of Iowa.

What can YOU do to avoid getting sick because of a "business man" like DeCoster, and to increase the safety of our food system?

Here's what you can do: buy eggs from a small farm, at a farmers' market, or at a market selling local food.

Why will that help?

First of all, small, independent farmers are far more likely to raise their chickens under sanitary and humane conditions. The kinds of massive, crowded chicken houses that cause sanitary problems don't even make sense for small farmers.

Second of all, if you buy your eggs from someone who actually played some role in their production, you can ask questions about farming techniques, safety records, and so on. And, more than likely, they're eating the eggs themselves.

Third of all, if for some reason there is a contamination problem on a small farm, it might affect hundreds or perhaps thousands of eggs—not half a billion.

Fourth of all, small farms that are selling under their own names rely on their reputation much more than agribusinesses whose products end up sold under tens or hundreds of brands. So a small farm with repeated problems would not last very long. Furthermore, regulatory agencies tend to deal with small farms more quickly and harshly than they deal with large agribusinesses.

Even at $3, $4, or $5 a dozen, which is what you might pay at a farmers' market in Boston, eggs are still a bargain. Especially when you compare them to the price of going out to eat. Or the cost of going to the hospital with salmonella.

As reported in:


Pamina said...

Or you can raise your own chickens and have the best eggs all the time! Plus they are super whacky and fun to hang out with.

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa said...

Also important to mention is that eggs from pastured hens are better for you. Supermarkets eggs (including organic) contain mostly Omega-6 fatty acids, vs. eggs from hens that eat insects, weeds have a better balance of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are much richer in vitamin A and D. Just compare the yolks and you'll see the difference!

Faith Food and Farm said...

We have a small farm and sell eggs at the farmer's market. I wonder why it takes an outbreak like this to bring customers? Small egg producers have been around for centuries.

Don't get me wrong I appreciate the business but it seems people haven't been really thinking about their food for some time.


Alex Lewin said...

I would love to have chickens myself, but I think my schedule is too irregular!

There are so many good reasons to eat eggs from pastured hens from small flocks kept by conscientious people who are actually paying attention. Nutrition is a very important one of those good reasons.

Lorna, I think you hit the nail on the head. People simply haven't been thinking about their food. It's too bad that it takes outbreaks to focus attention. Education and advocacy are other possible routes. Hopefully they'll reach most people before the outbreaks do.

Kelsey said...

Question: I have been getting eggs from a local farm for about a month. However, I notice sometimes with these eggs that there is a little red speck on the yolk, and I don't know what that is. Should it concern me, or is that normal? I'm a bit paranoid about that sort of thing, and I get grossed out easily, so if it's something that I shouldn't be concerned about, then I'll stop worrying about it. Thanks for any help!