Like most people you may buy your eggs at the grocery store. Not all eggs are created equal and you do not always get what you
think you are paying for.
Years ago we were like most consumers purchasing our eggs at the grocery store. We would just grab a dozen and place them in the grocery cart without giving any thought where they came from.
Then grocers started offering standard eggs, premium eggs, organic eggs, cage-free eggs, free range eggs and, occasionally, pasture raised eggs. Prices varied greatly between the various choices but did we really know the differences and were the prices justifiable?
For years we purchased cage-free eggs when we learned that regular eggs were being produced by hens in very small cages called battery cages. We weren’t necessarily looking at healthier eggs for us to consume but more concerned about the welfare of the hens that were laying the eggs. We also purchased organic cage-free eggs that we thought would be healthier for us.
Then we found out that the term cage-free was basically a good marketing ploy for people like us who were concerned about animal welfare. We were shocked when we learned that those cage-free hens never see the light of day and never go outside for sunshine or to scratch in the dirt, eat insects and other things happy chickens do. Yes, they are not confined to tiny cages but commercial egg production centers (aka hen houses) hold thousands of chickens at a time so the chickens have very little room to run around. This certainly is not ideal.
So we started buying free range eggs and felt better because we thought the hens got to range freely about the farm. We later learned that in large commercial egg farms they are still in the henhouse with thousands of other hens (like cage-free) but they are provided a small door to go outside to see the sunshine. This outside area in many cases is a small fenced patio and most chickens do not know that they can outside. Since there are so many free range chickens in the henhouse there is not enough room for many of them to go outside even if they wanted to. These outdoor areas are small fenced concrete patios in some cases so the chickens cannot naturally scratch in the dirt or eat insects which they love to do. We wrote an earlier blog post in June 2010 about the difference between free range and pasture raised eggs.
Since running the inn we have learned about pasture raised eggs and that is all we now purchase. Our eggs come for a farm up the road and the chickens have a house to go into at night or during bad weather for protection. During the day the are roaming outside around the farm scratching in the dirt and small gravel and enjoying the bugs and grasshoppers they like to eat adding to their healthy diet. These chickens are not confined in a henhouse with thousands of other chickens (like factory farms) so they tend to be healthier and do not require all the antibiotics of factory farmed hens. We visit the farm and can attest that our eggs come from happy chickens.
If you can purchase eggs from a pasture raised source, go for it! You will get fresher eggs (ours are usually gathered the day we buy them), healthier for you eggs (check out those bright orange nutrient filled yolks) and know that you are getting them from happy hens.
Cedar House Inn has been awarded the Gold level GreenLeader into the new TripAdvisor® GreenLeaders™ program, which helps travelers plan greener trips by identifying environmentally-friendly accommodations across the U.S.
TripAdvisor GreenLeaders have met a set of environmental standards developed for TripAdvisor by a leading environmental consulting firm, with input from expert partners. The more green practices a hotel has in place, the higher its GreenLeader level, which is shown on the property’s listing on the TripAdvisor site.
Travelers can now search for accommodations that have a GreenLeaders status on the TripAdvisor site, and view a detailed list of environmentally-friendly practices that they can expect at each location.
“TripAdvisor GreenLeaders are leading the hospitality industry in making efforts to improve their environmental footprint,” said Jenny Rushmore, director of responsible travel at TripAdvisor. “We greatly applaud these accommodations and are pleased to share their eco-friendly practices with our online audience of more than 200 million travelers.”
The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders program was developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR® program, the U.S. Green Building Council, and the United Nations Environment Programme. For more information, please visit www.tripadvisor.com/GreenLeaders.
We filmed a short video today showing the progress made on the garden area using a permaculture sheet mulching technique. We also cleared the hill above the garden of the pine trees and planted peaches and blueberries that will provide breakfast ingredients in the future. The pine trees were used to make a living fence to keep out larger animals and to provide a habitat for birds. In the future we will provide more video updates.
Our property at Cedar House Inn is not known for good soil for growing flowers and vegetables. I have planted over 250 trees and shrubs since we purchased the property and struggled with digging each hole. First we have a very thin layer of top soil, then hard clay and finally a rock layer. To have a viable garden we have no choice but to haul in or make our own dirt.
Rather than hauling in dump truck loads of top soil I decided to make dirt the way mother nature intended. Down by the yurts we have a forest of trees and layers of leaves under the trees that have accumulated for many years. Raking back some of the leaves you notice decomposition of the organic matter. Worms, insects and fungi are all doing their part in breaking down the leaves. Could I use a similar process to make good dirt in areas where only rock and clay exists? I read about Permaculture (sheet mulching) and Lasagna Gardening that explains just how I can do that.
Last Fall I identified where I wanted the vegetable garden to be. I then took large sheets of cardboard and placed them on the ground as a weed barrier. The cardboard decomposes over time like the layers of leaves in the woods. After watering the cardboard sheets I hauled many loads of leaves to place over the cardboard. Next I added wheat straw, then more leaves. This created a “lasagna like” layer. Some beds were covered with black plastic to help the composting process. When my wife had vegetable scraps I dug a hole in the bed and bury the scraps. I also buried rotted wood to add other microbes and insects to assist in the composting process.
One bed has a worm tower that I made. The tower is a 5 gallon plastic bucket with holes the size of a pencil that I drilled. We add vegetable scraps and red wiggler worms to eat the scraps and make worm castings and tea.
I have read that by Spring if the organic matter is not fully decomposed that is fine. I can dig a hole in the garden for the plant, add some top soil in the hole and plant. This type of gardening also requires no weeding which I like.
We are looking forward to growing vegetables using this simple permaculture gardening method. Be on the look out for more posts about how our garden grows once planting season arrives.
At Cedar House Inn my wife and I have attempted to create a sustainable earth friendly environment. We recycle, buy local, conserve natural resources and live somewhat frugally compared to others. We visited the half off sale at our local thrift store today and purchased slightly used clothing for ourselves.
The following video features a family in California that takes sustainability and living simply to the fullest.
Watch Video Now
While twittering I had a follower ask me in a tweet if I wanted to try some soapnuts. They mentioned it was an eco friendly substitute for laundry detergent. We always use environmentally friendly laundry soap but I was intrigued and agreed to try a sample.
The soapnuts arrived promptly by mail.
For those of you that have never heard about soapnuts they are berries that grow on trees in India and Indonesia. Their shells contain a natural detergent called saponin. Soapnuts are gentle on clothes and skin so they are great for people with skin allergies and babies. They are also biodegradable so they are great for the Earth.
The nuts come with a little cloth bag with drawstring. all we had to do was place 3-5soapnut shells in the bag and throw it in the washer instead of detergent. We tried it on a load of personal clothing with great results. The clothes came out clean and fresh smelling (the soapnuts have no smell).
For more information on soapnuts and how to order some for yourself visit Laundry Tree.
TripAdvisor®, the world’s most popular and largest travel community, today announced the results of its environmentally-friendly travel survey of more than 1,200 U.S. respondents.
Seventy-six percent of travelers sometimes incorporate green choices in their travel plans and 27 percent of respondents intentionally made environmentally-friendly travel choices in the past year.
Fifty-two percent regularly find it challenging to incorporate “green” choices into their travel plans and 44 percent of travelers find that environmentally-friendly options are not readily available when traveling.
Guests visiting the North Georgia mountains and the Dahlonega area have a green choice in lodging at Cedar House Inn and Yurts. We opened in 2003 as a green lodging establishment and have always used green sustainable practices in our daily operations which are outlined on our web site.
To read the complete TripAdvisor Survey visit
Happy Earth Day everyone.
I wish that Earth Day was not just a day but something that lasts all year. Imagine if everyone was mindful about recycling, saving electricity and conserving water and gasoline. The world would be a better place for our children and grandchildren in the future.
One thing that everyone could do that requires very little effort and expense is to start using reusable grocery bags when they shop. Every store now sells them but I seldom see anyone using them. America seems to be addicted to those little plastic bags that choke the landfills, pollute the roadways and require fossil fuels/oil in the manufacturing process.
If you do not currently use reusable bags I challenge you to start. Just purchase a few and place them in your car. When you arrive at the grocery store take them inside with you. When you are finished shopping and head to the check out have them ready for the bagger. When asked “paper or plastic” say “neither, I brought my own”.
When I go grocery shopping with my wife it seems that she is the only one using reusable bags. It’s really sad in my opinion. One day those little plastic disposal bags may be illegal. I certainly hope so.
Do you part to help the Earth. Start using reusable bags today.
With the droughts of last year a distant memory and the frequent recent rains we have had many are not probably thinking about water conservation. Last year rain barrels were popular and many found they were hard to find due to market demand by people wanting to save rainwater for garden irrigation.
We added a metal roof onto the inn to catch our rainwater but have not added the required gutters and rainwater chains. Rain barrels are also part of the project.
In the United Kingdom rainwater barrels are called water butts. They come in various shapes and sizes like the rain barrels you can purchase in the USA.
One company has made a rain barrel or water butt in the shape of a persons bottom complete with butt crack and a tattoo above the thong line. They even come in several skin tone colors.
Unfortunately they cannot be purchased in the US. Can you imagine some neighborhoods trying to deny the use of these water butts in the deed restrictions?
What’s wrong with looking at a good butt? And a butt that saves precious water?
For more information visit water butt.
At Cedar House Inn we always try to hang out our bed and bath linens on the clothesline outdoors weather permitting.
We bought a vinyl clothespin bag a year ago that became very tattered quickly. We tried to extend it’s life with duct tape. The sunshine apparently caused the premature death.
We have been looking for an replacement and saw some on the internet made from organic cotton. They were expensive.
We also recycle everything that can be recycled when guests check out of the inn. One item my wife saved was a hemp Earth Shoe bag that a guest had left last year.
My wife surprised me and made a really neat hemp clothespin bag that we used today.
All she did was cut out an opening for the pins and added a plastic coat hanger for hanging.
Coat hanger and bag now having another life with a different use.