Eggs are one of the most perfect foods, but how do you know which kind are the healthiest eggs? Do you get organic, cage-free, free-range, or fresh eggs? Toxins and pesticides are a concern that’s why I always try to get organic, but what about if you’re buying them in a store? I always wondered if fresh eggs were better than organic store bought eggs! Who can you trust to give you the healthiest eggs?
What should I know about in order to choose the healthiest eggs?
When choosing the healthiest eggs, you should be most concerned with what the producer does to the egg shell because many store bought eggs may be processed with detergents or chemicals in order to sanitize and clean the outside. If you think you are safe buying organic eggs you may be surprised as they also may be subject to the laws or regulations in your state and rinsed with harsh chemicals.
The dirty about what happens to your eggs.
Chicken eggs naturally have a protection to their shells called a bloom and this makes it difficult for bacteria to get in. But when the eggs are processed by washing, the protection is lost. What may happen next is that some large producers coat the egg with mineral oil, a petroleum product, to help increase shelf life and decrease contamination. This has been found to happen to approximately 10% of eggs even though mineral oil is not on the national list of allowed non-agricultural substances. Another synthetic that may be used to wash your eggs is chlorine and although this is not harmful it can interact with the egg’s organic substances to produce highly toxic compounds known as disinfection by products (DBPs). Even though the FDA has some regulations for the larger producers, these do not cover the washing of eggs; you may never know what your eggs have experienced before they got to you.
Treatment of the hens should also be considered when you make a decision on which eggs to buy. The hens can be in crowded conditions or even sleeping in poop. This affects the quality of your eggs! Of course, you won’t know this when you pick them up at your local store!
Why does it matter what happens to the shell?
Can’t I just wash the shell when I get home and then it is not really an issue? Not really, because egg shells are porous and any chemicals that come in contact with the shell can be found in the semi-permeable membrane, which you end up eating!
What’s the difference between cage-free, free-range, pastured and organic eggs?
Cage free eggs – Hens are not kept in cages. They may have shavings on the floor, perches and nest boxes. They can still be subjected to crowding!
Free-range eggs – Hens can go outside and some have a canopied area. Some may be allowed to go in and out whenever they choose. But how long are they outside? Sometimes not long at all. Being free range also does not mean they have an ideal place outside or a good diet.
Pastured eggs – These are the best free-range eggs because they are outside most of the time and live more naturally, eating bugs, worms, green plants, seeds and insects. Testing has found that pastured eggs have the best nutrients. You can tell these eggs are more nutrient dense because the yolks are darker in color.
Organic eggs – They can be cage free or not depending on the producer. They eat organic and are not given vaccines or antibiotics. The feed has to be from land free of toxic chemicals from pesticides or fertilizers.
How should I wash my eggs and how long do fresh eggs last?
The best way to wash your eggs when you bring them home is to use vinegar mixed with water. You don’t have to refrigerate fresh eggs if they are pastured and eating chemical-free, according to Alvin Schlangen, owner of a farm in Minnesota, and they should last at least a few days.
The reason you may want to refrigerate them is to prevent bacteria from growing. Hens sometimes become infected with salmonella enteritidis (SE) and this bacteria may be present in the egg. When you refrigerate raw eggs they can last nearly 5 weeks.
Organic Eggs or Fresh Local Eggs?
Fresh organic local eggs that are from pastured hens are definitely the best choice! If you can only find local fresh eggs or store bought eggs, even if they are not organic, it seems a better option to eat fresh eggs, from the farmer that you know. The reason store bought organic eggs may not be the best option is only because you don’t know the producer and what kind of processing the egg went through.
Where can I get the best healthiest eggs?
Check your neighborhood for local eggs or go to the local farmer’s market. You will want to try and get eggs from chickens that are allowed to forage and not fed antibiotics, corn or soy.
If you can get organic fresh local eggs, they are the healthiest eggs and the best choice! It’s best if can you see where the chickens are kept. I know that there is one place in my town I would rather not get my eggs as I see the chickens walking around in the cow poop all day!
Enjoy your delicious fresh eggs, nature’s most perfect food! And get to know your farmer or have fun raising your own chickens!