Not All Eggs Are Created Equal

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 get what you think you are paying for. We opt for pasture raised eggs.

pasture raised eggs

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.

For more information about the organic breakfasts we serve at our inn visit inn organic breakfast.

Free Range Versus Pasture Raised Eggs

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At Cedar House Inn we care about animal welfare and eating healthy eggs. Our breakfast ingredients contain organic milk, pasture raised eggs and seasonal veggies from our permaculture garden.

Many do not know that there is a big difference between free range and pasture raised eggs. We only use pasture raised eggs at the inn unless they are not available from the local farmer. Then we purchase free range organic at the grocery store.

Free range chickens (as defined by the USDA) have access to the outside but have no requirements on how much time they must spend outdoors. They also do not have any requirements for the size of the roaming area. Producers of free range eggs can label their eggs “free range”  even if all they do is leave a little door open in their giant chicken houses. Often chickens do not  go outside since they have not learned that behaviour. If they go outside there is often no bare dirt to scratch in or bugs to eat.

Pasture raised chickens stay outside and eat all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects, worms along with grain or mash. They have a hen-house with nesting boxes for egg laying and are free to come and go. They tend to be happier chickens and lay more nutritious eggs.

If you have the option for healthy eggs, pasture raised chicken eggs are the preferred choice for nutrition and animal welfare.

For more information about our organic breakfast at the inn visit breakfast.

New GMO Label

I just read in Green America that an estimated 70% of processed foods in the USA contain genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) as ingredients with the exception of certified organics. Until now consumers had no idea of what was in the processed food.

My wife and I decided several years ago to limit our consumption of processed foods. We tend to shop the perimeter of the grocery store which eliminates the interior aisles which are filled with the processed foods. We also tend to eat a lacto ovo vegetarian diet for health and environmental reasons.

At the Inn we also try not to serve processed foods to our guests. We also use organic milk and eggs.

While GMO foods have not been proven to be harmful we choose to take the necessary precautions and avoid GMO foods.

If you are interested in this topic visit Non-GMO Project’s Verification Program.

Eat Vegetarian- Even Part Time- Helps the Planet

Did you know that going meat free helps the Earth?

The meat industry is a top source for greenhouse gas methane according to a 2006 United Nations Food & Agricultural Organization report. In fact meat and dairy production create more carbon emissions than all the cars and trucks on the highways.

Reason why is that cows emit methane which traps 21 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Their solid waste produces nitrous oxide which is a greenhouse gas 300 times more powerful than CO2.

Try going meat free for one day with the Great American Meatout on March 20th.

We are not advocating that everyone should go vegetarian. Just cut back on the amount and frequency that you eat meat.