Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Egg

Ahhh, fresh eggs. This is actually something that we are having a hard time finding at the moment. When we were on the farm we raised 50 hens, so there was rarely a shortage of eggs. Recently I have been buying eggs from a friend of ours who sells to coops and direct to customers. The eggs are good, he feeds organic and does all sorts of interesting things BUT the chickens do not go outside. And to be honest that makes a huge difference. If you have ever had a farm fresh egg from truly free ranging hens you know that the yolk is almost orange.

The orange is from beta carotene, which comes from eating grass. This is kind of a hard concept why would green grass make egg yolks more orange, and milk more yellow, and animal fat more yellow??? I do not know how it works, but it does and to me that is an indication of good food and of a healthy animal.

Why is beta carotene important? Our bodies turn the beta carotene into vitamin A. Which is needed to form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue. It also produces the pigment in our retina promoting good vision. So the darker the orange, or yellow, the more bata carotene that our bodies then turn into Vitamin A. All good.

So where the heck do you find good egg? Well I do know were not to find them and that is the grocery store!

My first suggestion would be to raise your own. They really are very easy to raise and talk about fresh eggs- can't get any better than that! One chicken will lay over 300 eggs in their first year, close to an egg a day so if you had 6 hens you would have about 3 dozen eggs a week! Many local feed stores have baby chicks waiting to go to a good home, or sometimes you can find listings in the local papers or even craigslist. If you buy chicks just know that it will be 5 months before you will get any eggs.

When we first started raising laying hens the goal was to sell eggs at our local farmers market. The first year we were selling around 20 dozen a week, the second year I barely had any to bring to the market. Why? Well those customers that started buying at the farmers market kept buying after the market was over all of them coming out to the farm to buy the eggs. I could have raised more hens to get more eggs but our goal was not to become a production farm and besides we could only raise as many hens as our land would support. So as you probably have guessed my next suggestion is going to your local farmers market.

For those of you who do live a little further out in the rural areas, take a drive. More than likely you will see a sign at the end of someone's driveway advertising fresh eggs.

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