August 27, 2010

Egg Issues

Deviled Eggs are part of summer eating right? These luscious eggs in this chicken dish (made by my mom many years ago) would tempt most anyone. Except for the fact that Iowa currently has egg on it's face in regard to the enormous product recall stemming from two large chicken operations. What's your response to this recall? Stopping egg consumption is surely not the only answer since this is a staple in many people's homes and still a very inexpensive source of high quality protein. Remember that recent reports about the cholesterol issues surrounding egg consumption have been debunked, therefore, you have a nearly perfect source of protein in an egg, and it's worth fighting for some that are good quality. Take a look at this article about the positive health benefits attributed to egg consumption.

Once again we are faced with the truth about how we have to be responsible and diligent, doing everything we can to make good, safe food choices for our families. It's much easier to assume that whatever your grocery store sells must be safe, since our government has so many controls in place to ensure that safety - right? As the story unfolds, there are numerous allegations being revealed. News stories report the fact that the FDA rarely inspects these facilities, and we've seen some disturbing images and reports about just how sickening the conditions may be in facilities like this. There also seems to be some confusion about whether or not the USDA has any authority to correct problems they may find. One of the biggest eye openers for me is the number of different labels on eggs coming from the very same source. Our food supply is not nearly as diverse as we would be led to believe when we see varying brand names.


We are very blessed to have a source for eggs from "pastured" hens in our food coop. These eggs come from Novae Vitae Farm in Carlisle, IA. Many of the egg providers for our coop explain, in detail, the conditions of their farming operations and care very much about how their animals are handled. Here's what Novae Vitae says about their hens. "Our laying flock are free-range in the truest sense. They are able to forage throughout the day, weather permitting, doing what chickens were intended to do. We have had numerous customers tell us our eggs just taste better so that must be the secret."


So you don't have a food coop with numerous choices and you have concerns - What to do? Do you have a farm in reasonable distance that you could rely on? Is there a farmer's market near you - and if there is an egg vendor, can you find out how to get their eggs year-round? Is there a choice in your grocer's egg aisle that is trustworthy? Beware of labels and catch phrases however. One thing you commonly see on "high end" eggs is "free range". Mother Earth News has an excellent article about pastured vs. supposed "free-range" hens and eggs. It's really worth the time to read this article and EDUCATE YOURSELF! Here's another source of egg education in this article from "The Daily Green". Scroll about half-way down the page to read about the "free range" label, though the entire article offers some good insight and education - and more credence to the statement that you have to be your own advocate in purchasing safe, healthy food.

One final idea for safe food sources that might be in your area too. Drake University in Des Moines heads up an organization supporting local producers called "Buy Fresh, Buy Local". A simple internet search may reveal that this is in your area too. One wonderful side benefit of getting out there and making contact with people in your area who are running small farms - they are often really wonderful folks and it can be very uplifting to visit with them and learn about what they do and why. Try them - you'll like them!

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