The Egg Project – Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised 21


HandsomeBrookFarm-OrganicPastureRaisedEggs-FryPoached

Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised

In my recent trip to Whole Foods looking for some top-quality pastured soy-free eggs, I stumbled across Handsome Brook Farm Eggs. Handsome Brook Farm only does one kind of eggs, as far as I can tell, and they try to keep them at the highest quality possible. I was quite impressed with their literature, and what they do for their hens while they’re producing. These look like they’ll be about as good as you can get, without growing them yourself! Here is a summary of what I can see, and why I like what I see:

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  1. They only raise these eggs. I like this a lot because I find that quality is often the result of intense focus. The more focused a producer can be, the higher capacity for quality they are liable to have. And, of course, realized quality is bound by capacity, right? In other words, you have to focus on your product to produce something of value!
  2. They are 100% pastured, and their feed is grain-supplemented with organic grains. I am not excited that they’re being given grain supplements for their feed, but I recognize that without any bug-attractions, there is going to be a shortage of bugs pretty quickly when you unleash chickens on a field. Good bug attractions would be: cattle, horses, pigs, etc. to create something that the bugs would want to come to the farm and eat. That, of course, brings tons of bugs around to feed the chickens! Anyway, back from my digression, I recognize that without a mulch-disciplinary farm, there won’t be any cattle to attract bugs, and so the chickens simply won’t have enough bugs to feed on. They’ll need their feed supplemented somehow. And since it’s 100% grain, I know that there’s no soy, which is a huge win! In my egg-book, soy is worse than grains.
  3. They’ve taken the time to earn all of the various certifications that there are for top-quality eggs. Now, if you’re buying from your local farmer, this may be a detractor, since those certifications are expensive, and you can personally inspect the farmer’s operations. But if you’re buying commercial (which is what the Egg Project focuses on), then you’ll need to know that someone is inspecting the farm; even if it’s not actually you. Also, the fact that they have more than one certification means that they’re proud of their work (at least, that’s what I hope it means…) and proud farmers produce better products.

Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites?

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The viscosity of the whites was noticeable. I was quite impressed with how thick and viscous the egg whites were. This indicates that the hens were given an ample source of protein for the egg-production process, and it means that the protein in the whites will be abundant for anyone eating it. This is good.
The egg yolk was not as impressive as the egg whites. It was most certainly better than the “Cage Free Organic” eggs that I occasionally buy from Trader Joe’s, which has a dull yellow egg, the same as most basic commercial egg operations. This egg had a bright yellow color, verging on orange. This indicates that the chickens are eating some grass. Based on the color of the yolk and the viscosity of the egg whites.
My guess is that the “supplementary feed” that the chickens are getting actually turns out to be their primary source of calories, but the feed is scattered in grass, and the hens are hunting it and pecking it up as though it’s bugs. This is why there’s some color in the yolks, because there is some grass in their diets. Unfortunately, as we well know from our own human-food experiments, grains are addictive, so unless the farmer is highly perceptive and is only giving the hens just enough supplemental feed to fill out their dietary needs after they’ve been hunting bugs and grass all day, they’ll just choose all the grains being given to them instead of hunting for bugs. Of course, this is just my guess.

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Strangely, the yolk showed more of the bright orange coloring after being cooked than before. This is a new concept for me, and something I’ll have to begin to research to understand better. I really don’t have enough experience with this in order to be able to render an updated guess on their nutrition based on my thoughts above.
My piqued interest aside: the flavor of the yolk was as exceptional as the cooked coloring would suggest. I was pleased with a well rounded flavor, not the dry, boring flavor that I am more used to from other commercial options. This is a tasty egg, and I enjoyed eating it!

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Further reading:

The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.

  1. Pastured, Cage-Free hens
  2. No hormones or antibiotics
  3. Certified Organic
  4. Certified Humane
  5. Sustainable farm raised
  6. Soy-Free Feed

This is a striking 6-checks! I don’t really expect to see this, ever. It’s possible that I should add a seventh category, though I honestly don’t expect anyone ever to be able to complete it. If I did, it would either be: “No supplemental feed” or “Grain-free feed”. If I used “Grain-Free Feed” then there is a chance that some farmers out there would qualify, though again that would be a surprise. It’s perfectly possible to supplement chicken feed with alfalfa (particularly because many farmers use alfalfa as a rotation crop for their fields), as well as pea-shoots, and any other rotational nitrogen-producing crop. But since that’s expensive, and few farmers are even aware of the idea of “premium” feed for chickens, I don’t expect to be seeing that any time soon. When I encounter it, I’ll add that category at that time.


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21 thoughts on “The Egg Project – Handsome Brook Farm Organic Pasture Raised

  • Charlotte

    Those eggs look awesome. I get some from my local market that are also pastured and organic and they taste great. For anyone that wants to really see the difference, take an egg from the grocery store, crack it open, and then crack an organic, pastured egg next to it. You will see just how much better the pastured eggs look.

    • urbanpaleochef

      Hi Charlotte, thank you for the comment!
      Yeah, there’s such a huge difference between CAFO eggs, and pastured! It’s ridiculous, isn’t it? And the taste is unreal! It’s like re-discovering food for the first time!

      • G

        http://hbfeggs.com/faqs/

        What is in your chicken feed?

        Our feed consists of corn, wheat, oyster shell, trace minerals, and soymeal for protein. All of our feed is GMO free and of course our organic layers are fed Certified Organic feed.

        In most cases, our farmers grow their own feed!

        Is there soy in your chicken feed?

        Yes. A small percentage of the feed is soymeal, which is needed to supply the chickens with adequate protein for laying. We have looked into alternative protein sources, have not yet found a non-animal source that meets our chicken’s nutritional needs.

        We have consulted with respected allergists, who have advised us that the soy protein in the soymeal broken down inside the chicken prior to egg laying, and is not found in eggs in sufficient amounts to trigger allergic reactions in most people. Of course, if you have a medical condition regarding soy, it’s essential you consult your physician. To date, we have not received any complaints regarding a soy reaction by any of our customers.

  • Tamara

    I just bought these eggs because I forgot to order from my farmer and the yolks were a pale yellow color, no different from the caged mainstream eggs. I will never buy these eggs again. They can’t possibly be pastured for real.

    • urbanpaleochef

      Hi Tamara – thank you for your comment, and I hope other people notice your thoughts too! If there’s a chance that these eggs are good some of the time, and not good other times, then people should know that!
      I enjoyed the eggs when I bought them, but honestly I haven’t purchased them again, so it could be that I just got a good batch.
      If you’re looking for eggs to pitch in when your farmer is out of town (or you don’t manage to get to him) – take a look at the Pete and Gerry’s Ameruacana Heirloom Eggs. They’re truly excellent! Also really expensive…
      See my thoughts on them here:
      http://urbanpaleochef.com/2013/08/16/the-egg-project-pete-and-gerrys-heirloom-ameraucana-eggs/

    • Betsy Babcock

      Hi Tamara,

      This is Betsy Babcock from Handsome Brook Farm. I am so sorry that you did not enjoy our eggs…sometime the yolk color varies due to what exactly the hen was eating that day! But I promise you that all of our hens are raised on pasture, and foraging happily. Please feel free to give me a call any time at (607) 829 2587 if you like! Hopefully, you will try us again!

  • Lori

    Hi, I know this is two years old, but I just found your post. I buy these eggs regularly from Fresh Direct at $5/carton. HB Farms also sell organic raised eggs at $4/carton on the Fresh Direct website. I have found that the color of the yolk varies seasonally and one time I even had a feather still attached to the outside of the eggshell. I had a feeling they supplemented with soy which saddens me, especially at these prices. From what I understand, the soy protein is present in the yolk and when consumed, one is ingesting soy as well. :( However, I don’t know if you have heard of Udder Milk. They guarantee the yolks are orange and the whites are viscous. They also promise that there is no soy ever given to their chickens. They are more “orangey” than the HB Farm eggs and are the same price. If you happen to test those eggs, I would love to read a post. Thanks for all the information.

    • Betsy Babcock

      Hi Lori – Yes indeed our Handsome Brook Farm yolks may vary in intensity from paler yellow to orange seasonally. That is to be expected if a chicken is truly pastured. Some other egg companies put additives in their chicken feed to make their yolks look orange, but it not a result of going outdoors. If Udder Milk is in northern climates, that I would be questioning how their egg yolks could be guaranteed orange during the winter, without an additive. In addition, I noticed that on their website they claim to not wash their eggs. USDA requires that all eggs graded USDA for sale to be washed. We do feed soy to our chickens, as soy free feed would make our eggs very cost prohibitive to our customers. And our understanding from allergists is that the soy protein is broken down in the chicken before it gets to the egg. If soy-free eggs are essential to you, then yes, another choice would be best. Do feel free to call me any time to talk eggs! Betsy Babcock Owner, Handsome Brook Farm (607) 829 2587 hbfeggs.com handsomebrookfarm.com

      • urbanpaleochef

        Thank you for your reply Betsy, that was very thoughtful and I really appreciate you taking the time to post in!
        If you would like to take the time to write a post on your eggs, what you do (and don’t do) to ensure their health, etc., I’d be delighted to host an industry-expert’s steps and process for myself and my readers! If you’re interested, please reply and I’ll reach out to you.

        • Betsy Babcock

          Thanks so much for the invitation! We understand how incredibly confusing egg terminology and standards can be – the dairy case can be daunting, and terms misleading. It is so important for consumers to understand the differences between egg types and how chickens are raised. We are committed to helping to clarify and help people understand what they are buying. Let me know what I can do – and I’ll be happy to!

  • Pam Kelley

    Want to make sure that all grains are non-GMO, as well as grasses, and would be alfalfa. Considered dry Coconut flesh after oils removed? Relieved there is no soy.

    • Pam Kelley

      Whoops! I just read that your chickens are fed soy. As I understand, this raises the Omega 6 in the yolk which is not a good situation for human consumption. (Wisconsin Eggs I’ve ordered are fed coconut feed instead, with resultant reduction of omega 6, bringing it into line with omega 3 which humans need more of. I am assuming that all of your eggs, your chicken feed is GMO-free, of course. I have concerns about corn being fed to chickens, hoping that it is not GM and has not been sprayed with Glyphosate as a dessicant.

      Please consider replacing corn and soy with coconut feed.

      • Betsy

        Hi Pam, All of our organic eggs are GMO Free. They do contain some soy for protein. You’ll be please to know that , due to customer requests, we will be coming out with a line of SOY FREE Pasture Raised Organic Eggs in just a few months, using ground peas (which have no taste) as the protein! They will be available through FreshDirect (NY), Central Market (TX), Heinens (Midwest), and Fresh Thyme (Midwest) stores to start. Will be in a bright pink carton

      • Betsy

        HI Pam, I just left a response for urbanpaleochef about your questions….we are completely GMO Free…and are coming out with a SOY FREE line of pasture raised organic eggs in just a couple of months!

    • urbanpaleochef

      Yup. Agreed. I said the same thing. As I mentioned: these are pretty good for people who are limited to what is only available in grocery stores. Except for review purposes (writing a post in my blog; helping people find the “better” out of the litany of over marketed poor quality products), I actually buy all my eggs directly from a farmer. That way, I know precisely what they eat, how they’re raised, and thus what the quality of my food is.