Two completely different foods.

“Although from the outside an industrial egg looks exactly like a pastured egg selling for several times as much, they are for all intents and purposes two completely different foods.”

Michael Pollan, from In Defense of Food

I’ve argued that point numerous times on this blog.  Of course, anyone who has ever compared an industrial egg and a farm-fresh egg does not need to be convinced.  Nevertheless, please indulge me while I say a few more things about this.

This is a photo I took a few years ago of a freshly cracked egg from the grocery store and a freshly cracked egg from our farm.  These shells of these eggs may look the same, but the part we eat is entirely different.  Read more about the comparison HERE.

Egg comparison

Recently someone asked me why the yolks of our eggs are orange, not yellow like factory eggs.  Although I knew it was because our hens have a superior and more natural diet, I couldn’t be more exact than that.   I’ve since learned that it is because our hens get beta carotene in their diets from eating grass and other freshly growing green things–something hens in battery cages will never do.

DSCN7442

When compared to factory eggs, real eggs not only look better, they taste better and have more health benefits as well.

There is another compelling reason to favor real farm eggs, which is less-often discussed.  Industrial eggs are products of systemic and industrialized cruelty to animals.   To get the millions of layers they need, the industry artificially inseminates eggs then hatches them in enormous incubators.  The day-old chicks are then placed on a conveyor belt and sorted by sex.  The male chicks are tossed alive into giant meat grinders (or thrown into large containers to die more slowly).  After having their beaks cut off, the females are transported in crates (containing hundreds of chicks) to large brooding areas until they are large enough to begin laying.  Then they are placed inside battery cages in long rows, stacked on top of one another.  They are fed the cheapest feed that will enable them to produce the most eggs in the shortest time.  They never see sunlight, or any living thing other than one another and the unfortunate people who work in these facilities.  They never stretch their wings, take a dust bath, scratch in the dirt or see a rooster.  After about a year, when their egg production begins to drop, those who have survived this hell will be killed and made into soup.

That too is part of the cost of delivering those cheap, pale yellow runny eggs to our tables.

9 comments on “Two completely different foods.

  1. Ann Wood says:

    AT THIS TIME WHEN EGGS ARE USED TO DECORATE MANY AN EASTER BASKET…IT IS TIME FOR ME TO SAY…BOY, DO WE EVER MISS YOUR EGGS! THEY ARE A DELIGHT AND SO GOOD FOR US….HAPPY EASTER, TO YOU CHERIE AND BILL AND TO THE HAPPIEST FREE RANGE CHICKENS IN THE WORLD WITH FRUIT BEYOND COMPARE! ❤

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  2. Bob Braxton says:

    Thoreau would recognize “man” in the industrial age in such a picture (the concept of “mill”) and will we someday come to the realization that the “grass of the field” is sentient being (as well).

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  3. El Guapo says:

    That was appalling.
    You’ve talked about box labels before. Since I live in a city, what kind of labeling should I look for on my eggs and chicken to know I’m getting a product that was treated better than that?

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    • Bill says:

      Your best bet is to find the closest farmer’s market and get your eggs there. They’re springing up it cities all across the country now and hopefully there’s one near you. If not, the best certification I know of is “Certified Animal Welfare Approved”. It is legitimate and any eggs with this certification aren’t from chickens raised in the ways I describe.

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  4. Sophie says:

    Heart-breaking. I think that in the EU we’ve made a lot of progress in the area of far animal welfare but we still have far to go, and I get the impression that the USA is even further behind. I’m surprised that the battery farmers don’t put beta-carotene into their feed to make their eggs look better. I wonder if they haven’t found a way to, or if there’s a different reason, like public ignorance of what an egg should actually look like.

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    • Sophie says:

      Oops, I meant of course ‘farm animal welfare’.

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    • Bill says:

      Good question about the beta-carotene. The industry tries in other ways to imitate farm eggs, such as with the bogus and misleading labelling I mentioned in my post of a few days ago. Because they prefer to use white leghorn hens (which lay the most eggs on the least feed)most grocery-store eggs are white. So some people got the idea that brown eggs were healthier than white eggs (the shell color is actually irrelevant). So the industry began selling brown eggs too, even though they’re just as bad as their white ones. They’ve probably got scientists and marketeers hard at work trying to figure out how to make the yolks look different. Note that it isn’t just the color that is different, but also the texture. Factory eggs are runny and will spread across the plate, while farm egg yolks are firmer and won’t.

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