Truth in Labeling

10 Jul

Deciphering an egg carton label can be a perplexing experience. Natural. Organic. Free Range. Cage Free. How do we know what these terms mean, since there is really no official standard for egg production…and no method for enforcing one if it existed.

I am fortunate in that we now have our own flock of laying hens and I no longer have to ponder the vagaries of egg labeling, but this blog by Francis Lam will give you a better idea of what you are choosing from the egg aisle.

Our hens free range on 2 acres of pasture.

Our hens are pastured and very productive.  We sell most of our surplus eggs to friends and neighbors, but this summer when many of our regulars went on vacation and our hens starting laying 2 dozen eggs a day, we were suddenly overstocked. There’s a corner near our house where folks sell random furniture, produce, crafts, etc., and one Saturday Eddie suggested we go sell some eggs there.

We sold out in an hour or so, but one gentleman objected to our $5 a dozen price and told us he could get farm fresh eggs up the road for $3 a dozen. Really? Well, after we packed up the vehicle we went on down the road to check out the competition.

As we drove up to the farmhouse we saw the sign “Farm Fresh Eggs $3”. We could see a dozen or so hens scratching around in the pasture with the cows, but we knew that couldn’t be their entire flock! As I got out of the car a woman in tall rubber boots exited a huge barn next to the farmhouse and I told her I’d like to buy a dozen eggs. She went into the house and came out with a carton of brown eggs.

I asked her how many hens she had and she said 500 and dismissed me. Then I knew…those hens were in the barn! Hopefully not in battery cages, but who knows? And, the truth is that they came direct from a farm and were no doubt fresh…so the label was, in fact, true.

Of course, the proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, the yolk. When we got home I cracked open one of those eggs and one of our eggs. Here’s the proof of what free range, pastured hens produce, as compared to production hens. Visually, its striking, but on your taste buds its amazing!

Egg from our pastured poultry on the right.

If you have the opportunity to buy eggs from pastured poultry you’ll never go back, I’m sure. Look for a local CSA, farmers market or food co-op in your neighborhood, or search Local Harvest. And, if you can, ask your egg farmer if you can visit their farm. The legitimate farmer will no doubt be proud to show you around.

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11 Responses to “Truth in Labeling”

  1. Kris buhnerkemper July 10, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Wow Lisa… Unbelievable!
    I’d buy some if we were by you!
    Love you,
    Kris

    • ruminski July 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      If you lived nearby, cuz, I’d GIVE you some!

  2. Suzy Howell July 10, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Truly, a picture us worth a thousand words!!! We may be passing by your way. If you are home, may we stop buy to shop?

    • ruminski July 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm #

      Claro que si, Suzy! Let us know when.

  3. Suzy Howell July 10, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    Is worth. Is, is, is.

  4. Miriam Moyer July 10, 2012 at 8:52 pm #

    Lisa, what you say about pastured free range hens is true. After living on the farm and eating these beauties I find the best eggs at the market to be lacking in flavor and that lovely color of yolk. $5 a dozen is a good price especially when they are being fed top notch food. Keep up the good work!!! Love, Miriam

    • ruminski July 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

      Thanks, Miriam! Hope to see you one of these days.

  5. Ron D. July 11, 2012 at 6:03 am #

    That’s interesting. It is also becoming popular for people here in New Jersey to have their own chickens if they own a larger (acre or two) lot. We occasionally get a few eggs if one of our friends has extras, and they do taste better than store-bought.

    • ruminski July 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm #

      Backyard chickens are easy to keep, Ron, and you don’t need much room. Out here you can even keep 3 to 6 hens in an urban community. No roosters, though!

  6. Leslie July 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    that was soooo interesting. i cant wait to have an egg breakfast at your house!
    love you.
    leslie

    • ruminski July 16, 2012 at 11:41 am #

      I can’t wait to SERVE you some, sister!

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