Eggceptional Eggs – Why Eggs from Free Range Hens Are Good For You

eggs of many colors

As a city girl, it’s been tough finding fresh farm eggs raised from free range chickens.

Why be so picky about eggs, you ask? What’s wrong with regular eggs from the supermarket?

Nothing. Except that my interests in diet have evolved to where I am very interested in how my food is raised. If there is a taste difference between industrial grain-fed beef versus locally raised, grass-fed beef then it stands to reason that there is a difference between eggs from cafo hens (confined animal feeding operation) vs eggs from free range hens allowed to forage for their natural food.

Essentially, the nutrient levels in eggs from free range hens is higher than in  eggs from cafo hens.  This logic extends to all other sources of food by the way. Higher levels of nutrients in grass-fed beef vs corn- or grain-fed beef and higher levels of nutrients in organic vegetables vs non-organic vegetables.

Cafo hens are caged and are fed genetically modified soy and corn feed versus free range hens that forage for insects, bugs, grass, and other food they evolved best on.

Visually speaking, the yolk from eggs from cafo hens tend to pale yellow whereas the yolk from free range hens tends to a darker, orangey colour.

Not only that but eggs are, gram for gram, one of the best and cheapest sources of protein for your body.  One egg contains:

  • A multitude of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K
  • Plus anti-oxidants and essential nutrients like choline
  • Plus cholesterol that is essential for our brains, hormones and overall health

Eggs is a damn superfood!

I first noticed this difference when I was in St Lucia for a week, and stayed at a small family-run inn that raised 70% of its own food.  I recall the eggs were incredibly divine…they actually tasted eggy…and wondering back then why they tasted so different from the eggs I had in Canada.  I vaguely knew it had to do something with the hens being raised naturally and the minimal transportation distance from hen-coop to breakfast table but didn’t give it much thought after that.

I’ve been giving it a lot of though in the past couple of months and went looking for eggs, raised locally, from free range eggs.

Very hard to find those eggs in southern Ontario.  Likely the reasons are monopoly of big dairy plus the weather conditions that limit the foraging of hens which add up to increased costs for small farmers.

Now that warmer weather is upon us, fresh eggs can best be found in farmer’s markets.

St Lawrence Market is a good one for people living in Toronto as farmers do sell pasture raised eggs but these go very fast.  Another place that sells fresh farm eggs is the The Butcher’s Son in Davisville.  They sell eggs from a local farmer every Thursday and these too go fast so make sure to place an order, or just show up early.

Another option is join a CSA (community supported agriculture) group that allows one to buy local, seasonal produce/meats/eggs directly from a farmer. As a buyer, you would get share or a subscription from the farmer which allows you to buy a certain amount of produce/eggs/meats from the farmer throughout the farming season.

Otherwise, go on a leisurely Sunday drive out in the country side and stop by various farms. Inquire about your interest in eggs from free range hens and if the farmer doesn’t raise them himself he at least will direct to someone who does.

What are the places you go to buy delicious eggs from free range hens?

Image from woodleywonderworks via Compfight

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One thought on “Eggceptional Eggs – Why Eggs from Free Range Hens Are Good For You

  1. Great article! I too have had the same experience with the varying flavour or “egginess” of egss. Having grown up on a farm with fresh organic eggs and then coming to Canada I found that the run of the mill Canadian egg you get at your local greasy spoon was really an abstraction of the real egg. So in the last few years, especially wanting the best for my kids I have become an egg snob. Luckily, I live in Southern Ontario – home of Rowe Farmsso I have had a greater option at my local supermarket but still on the look out for all that the Egg world has to offer – Duck eggs included. I also can zip over to St. Jacob Market where there is an egg vendor – which btw – I believe has a stall at the St. Lawrence market in Toronto. Keep us posted on your search for the ultimate egg. Looking forward to your next post.

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