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Beechwood Inn Eggs
More Nutritious Eggs from Pastured Chickens
McDonald's and Target dropped the nation's 5th largest egg supplier after an animal rights group released an undercover video of the egg producer's farms in three states. The Company, Sparboe Farms, has been under fire by U.S. Food and Drug Administration and animal rights groups for alleged unhealthy conditions and animal cruelty at its farms.
As consumers we should be aware that it’s not just about the ethical treatment of animals, the eggs produced under these conditions pose a much higher risk for the spread of food borne illness such as Salmonella. And importantly, research indicates that chickens raised in these conditions produce eggs that are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are produced in corporate farms. The results of this research found that, in contrast to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
What could account for this significant difference of eggs from pastured chickens? Chickens raised in factory farms are subject to an enormous amount of stress. They are over-crowded, get little fresh air, live in a putrid environment full of their own waste, and they are subject to full spectrum lighting 24 hours a day to encourage more production. Under of these conditions chickens are routinely de-beaked so they will not cannibalize one another. Given the filth, salmonella and other diseases are a real threat. These conditions can happen at organic farms as well as nonorganic ones.
Also, the diets of factory farm birds are dramatically different from pastured ones. Free-range birds eat a chicken’s natural diet — all kinds of seeds, green plants, insects and worms, usually along with grain or laying mash. Factory farm birds are never outdoors, and are not permitted to forage a natural diet. They are usually fed the cheapest possible mixture of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meal, along with additives such as hormones and antibiotics.
Pastured chickens lead a more relaxed life without the stress of 24 hour lights, they are not subject to congested cages, and have access to fresh water. There is little concern of them cannibalizing each other so they are not de-beaked.
The best way to be sure you are getting eggs from ethically raised, stress free chickens is to buy local farm eggs. If possible, visit the farm yourself and view the conditions. If that is not possible then research where your eggs come from, and don’t be afraid to call or email the farmer/company to ask for more information.
At Beechwood Inn we happily pay a small premium for fresh farm eggs from pastured cheickens We understand this is an investment in our personal health and the health of our guests. The eggs themselves can be quite beautiful, especially from mixed flocks, with colors of white, blue-green, tan and brown.
Can’t find local pastured eggs? Try “Northeast Georgia Locally Grown.” Locally Grown is a new internet based market that offers a unique way to make fresh, local and sustainable foods more accessible to citizens of Northeast Georgia. All the products you find on this site are produced nearby in Rabun, Habersham and adjacent counties. All of the growers are committed to chemical free farming and follow strict standards to ensure that all the vegetables, herbs, milled products, dairy, eggs, meats, flowers, and transplants are produced using sustainable production practices.
I thank our local farmers and ranchers who make North Georgia a wonderful place to be a chef.
By David Darugh, Chef/Co-Owner Beechwood Inn, Clayton GA www.beechwoodinn.ws