UPC’s The Egg Project
My wife recently asked me to reconsider an analysis of the eggs that are available commercially. I’ve spent more than a few lines on my blog griping about the food that chickens are fed, and how I’m generally dissatisfied with both the chicken and egg quality available, mostly again based on the food that their given. When we went Paleo 3+ years ago, I did an exhaustive analysis of the commercially available eggs, and concluded that I could either not eat the eggs, or eat eggs from soy-fed chickens. At that time, I didn’t have any soy-free egg source available to me. Thankfully, the market is constantly changing, and there are now some reliable sources of pastured eggs which give us some really high quality protein and fats! So I decided to accept my wife’s request, and share with you all the results of my re-analysis of the commercially available eggs in the market place. Here are my basics:
1. Chickens are omnivores, like all birds. “The early bird get’s the worm” should be an important part of our understanding of what chickens should be eating. A chicken which has no live animal protein source in it’s diet is not a healthy bird. I am putting that in bold to be perfectly clear about my stance on this. When you see “All vegetarian feed” on chicken and egg labels, that is not a good thing! Chickens need to feed on bugs, just like every other bird!
2. Just like all other animals, soy and whole grains are not quality feed for chickens. They do better with it than cows, but it’s still not quality feed. So in order to satisfy me that the eggs I am getting are truly top-quality, I need to see that the chickens are being fed no soy, and no grains. There are plenty of other commercially available (not as cheap, obviously) food sources to supplement the bugs, beetles, worms, and grubs that they can forage in a farm-yard. Good examples: sprouts, non-grain seeds, berries and nuts, possibly even an apple from time to time.
3. Cage free is an absolute requirement for me. While there may be no option with regards to food, and I’ll simply have to make some “allowances” and just report to you all my findings, I will not make any allowances on Cage Free. There are options available, and there’s no need for cages at all. Chickens will roost naturally, and don’t need to be kept on their roost forcibly.
Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs; Ameruacana Eggs
I found Pete and Gerry’s eggs while looking around at the options in Whole Foods Market. Pete and Gerry’s has several different options on the shelves, and I ended up purchasing two of them. Today’s post looks at one of their options that they call Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom Eggs. These are very interesting eggs! As you can see from the picture above, the coloring of the eggs is slightly green, which was fascinating considering the current egg market, which is dominated by either completely white or completely brown eggs. These greenish eggs really caught my attention, and I am very glad that they did. Variability like that in eggs indicates to me that the farmers raising those eggs have some appreciation for their animals and the product of their farm. This is a good thing!
Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites
This is a huge indicator that the chickens were given regular access to pasture. The carotene in the grass that they eat while searching for bugs and seeds comes out in the bright orange color that you can see in this egg. It’s a huge sign that the animal is a healthy animal, and that it has ample room to roam as needed to get both proper exercise and proper nutrition (bugs and grass).
It’s hard to actually “see” the viscosity of the egg whites. I will do the best I can to show that when I show my eggs; but I am not sure how yet… In the mean time, I suppose I’ll just have to say that I was satisfied with the viscosity of the eggs. It wasn’t strikingly thick, but it also wasn’t thin and runny, like most commercial eggs are. So I found this to be a satisfying level of thickness and viscosity.
As you can see from the cooked picture, that coloring perpetuates through the cooking of the egg, and the end result is both a delicious egg, and a really stunningly good looking one! In fact, this is one of the best tasting eggs that I’ve had since I was a child, and lived in rural Vermont where there were only farm-raised eggs available.
The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.
- √ Pastured, Cage-Free hens
- √ No hormones or antibiotics
- √ Certified Organic
- √ Certified Humane
- √ Sustainable farm raised
- Soy-Free Feed
These eggs get a shining check-mark for each of the first 5 of my criteria. Checking out their site thoroughly, I can’t find anywhere which promises soy-free feed. As I stated above in the critique of the eggs, the eggs were delicious, and the yolks were a bright orange, which indicates that they eat plenty of grass. Further, the whites were thick and viscous, so the chickens clearly had some live protein in their diet.