It’s no doubt that a dozen eggs were an unusual gift. But for my friend Carol, “hmmm, eggs,” quickly became “Mmmm, eggs.” Here’s the story.
Maria, a friend and fellow osteopath, lives on a farm where she, her husband and two children raise chickens, and to be complete, ducks and geese. She always comes bearing eggs, which I share with friends–green eggs, blue eggs, brown eggs, white eggs and sometimes big fat duck eggs. The color depends on which breed laid the egg. But the real treat comes when you crack it. The white is thick and buoyant; the yolk glowing orange. And the taste? Well as my friend Carol put it, “I’ve never savored an egg before!”
Maria and her family raise their chickens on pasture. That’s a fancy way of saying they roam outside all day long eating all the grass, worms and bugs they please. Maria’s land was ridden with ticks until they got the chickens, Mother Nature’s pest control. Their diet is supplemented with cracked corn and vitamin pellets. The pasture gives the yolk the bright orange color and superior nutrition. The more pasture the hens eat, the brighter orange the yolk. The color changes with the seasons as the availability of fresh grass and bugs changes. Pasture-raised eggs have four times more of the anti-oxidant beta-carotene, thus the bright orange color, four times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice the vitamin E and half the cholesterol.
If you, like Carol, have bought grocery store eggs all of your life, then you never have tasted a fresh egg. The fresher the egg, the more the white stands up. According to Hormel Foods’ website, the sell by date on a carton of eggs can be no more than 30 days after the eggs were packed. Yet an egg can be packed up to 30 days from the time it was laid. Storage conditions make a big difference. If a freshly laid egg is left at room temperature for a full day, it will not be as fresh as a week old egg refrigerated between 33° and 40°F.
There is a reason I did not use the term “free-range” when I described how Maria raises her hens. With “natural” and “organic” having such market appeal, producers are stretching the truth. According to one farmer, “free-range means the chickens have access to the outside. It can also mean that a door is merely left open on a large confinement house to a dirt yard.” Buyer beware.
So short of a friend like Maria, how do you get fresh pasture-raised eggs? Check the Kansas City Food Circle Directory of Local Organic and Natural Food producers at kcfoodcircle.smn-rab.org/docs/KCFC-Directory.pdf. There are just too many farmers offering free-range eggs to list. You’ll find them at farmer’s markets during the summer. Many deliver to the city during the winter months or you can drive to their farm.
She teaches whole foods nutrition and holistic living online. Visit University Of Masters [http://www.universityofmasters.com/amember/go.php?r=278&l=uggc%3A%2F%2Fjjj.havirefvglbsznfgref.pbz] for information about her courses. Please enter “DRKLUG” in the referral box when you enroll.
She authors the monthly column “The Doctor Cooks” for the Kansas City Wellness Magazine. The Doctors Cooks Weblog is now online with past articles, menus, recipes, tips and other resources. Please subscribe!