Why Local Eggs Are Better: A Visual Comparison

Why are local eggs better? Let’s take a look, shall we?

2 Eggs

What is the difference between these two eggs? Anyone?

Ok yeah, the colors. Also the size and shape. These are things that you can see in the picture.

The things that you can’t necessarily see in the picture are the more disturbing things.

The Shells Are Different

The egg on the left’s shell is thin and brittle.

The Yolk Is Different

The egg on the left’s yolk also contains more cholesterol, because it was from an unhealthy chicken who was fed things that she was not supposed to eat. She also didn’t get any exercise. This chicken was probably contained in a cage that she could not even turn around in.

The Life of The Chicken Was Different

EVEN if the package says “free-range”, the United States’ standard for free-range ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

For instance, the U.S’s free-range policy states that the chickens must have been allowed access to the outside.

What does this mean? As one of my favorite journalists Michael Pollan says, it means that for the last two weeks of their life, the chickens are allowed access to a little door on the side of a giant barn that houses thousands of chickens restricted to tiny cages. This door is opened for the last two weeks of their life, and the chickens are allowed outside (outside meaning a tiny fenced-in area that has a dirt ground).

Problem is, by that point, the chickens have lived their whole life in a tiny cage in a dark barn. They probably know their life is bad, but they have no idea what is on the other side of that door and they aren’t particularly eager to find out.

Cage-Free Is Not Better

“Cage-free” eggs also tend to be another marketing scam.

Most of the time this means that the chickens live in severely confined spaces where they are more prone to disease due to being on the ground and in contact their own feces and other chickens, who are probably sick too.

This is sad, right? This egg could have been purchased at any supermarket in America.

So what about the egg on the right?

The egg on the right’s shell is firm and hard to crack. The chicken (who I saw) lived a life outside on the ground, pecking away at grass and bugs. This chicken was occasionally chased by a walking 18-month-old or a small dog. She lived her life with other chickens and was lovingly put in a safe, comfortable barn every evening to protect her from foxes and raccoons. She did not eat genetically modified food. She was not sick. She was never in a cage.

Why Local Is What You Want

The egg on the right is a local egg and belongs to a true free-range chicken, aka LOCAL chicken. Why are local eggs better?

1. You know where they came from.

2. You are eating healthier, lower-cholesterol, natural yolks with more beta-carotene.

3. You are not supporting those sad tortured chickens in tiny cages managed by industrial farms out for a profit.

4. You reduce your risk of getting sick from those nasty commercial eggs.

Finding local eggs can be difficult depending on where you live.

Finding healthy local eggs is even more of a challenge.

How do you know that the person who owned those chickens wasn’t feeding them genetically modified grains, antibiotic feed, or Wonder bread? You just have to ask questions, or better yet, go and see the farm for yourself.

If they have nothing to hide then they shouldn’t deny you access. Most people would be happy to give you a tour if they know you are eating their chickens’ eggs and therefore supporting their existence.

Finding local eggs was very easy for me when I lived in Pennsylvania. Finding local eggs is very difficult for me where I live now.

You can find natural food stores but beware of industries trying to masquerade as healthy, friendly companies. There’s a market for this, people. There’s a reason that gluten-free products and Whole Foods are so expensive–because there is money to be made from people who are trying to eat better.

Your local eggs should come directly from a farm (meaning YOU get them directly from the farm, not Whole Foods) or from a small local store that carries eggs from local farmers. The farmer’s name and contact information should be directly on the carton. And don’t be afraid if these cartons are mismatched or seemingly from Giant—farmers recycle donated egg boxes to save themselves from having to purchase any.

Commercial eggs completely gross me out now and I don’t trust the United States Department of Agriculture to tell me what’s good and what’s not when it comes to eggs.

Cooking the Eggs

Let’s have a look at the inside of these eggs, shall we?

I was so grossed out by this commercial egg that I couldn’t even bear the thought of putting it in my beloved cast iron. I had to borrow a Teflon pan to cook this sucker

Commercial Egg

Looks like a normal, American egg, right? And it is! From a sick hen who was not allowed to live a natural life and confined to a cafe. Look at that bright yellow yolk. And then compare it to this:

Farm Egg

Can you see how much darker in color these yolks are? Natural, really healthy chicken yolks from local eggs are very dark orange. That’s because they are chock-full of beta-carotene and other healthy vitamins.

Naturally lower in cholesterol, these eggs have really firm yolks that are difficult to break and they tend to stick together after they are broken. Look at them after I broke the yolks (because I can’t stand my yolks runny!)

Farm Eggs Yolk

And then let’s look at our disgusting commercial egg after the yolk has been broken and the Teflon has fried it to a crisp:

Commercial Egg Yolk

Eww, it just runs right out of there. The egg’s shell is brittle, the yolk and egg white are thin and runny, and the yolk is bright yellow. Sounds like a pretty sick hen to me. No way was I putting that in my cast iron.

So obviously I made two of the local eggs because they are delicious and healthy so I ate them. I am very sorry for wasting this commercial egg, I figure if the chicken went through all that suffering and sickness to provide this one egg, I should eat it right? But alas, I cannot.

Do a little bit more thinking the next time you buy your eggs. Lots of unhealthy chickens depend on your purchases. You can make a difference if you stop buying! You’re one person, but so am I! Together we can influence, educate, and change. Buy local eggs!

Why to Use Cast Iron: It’s Your New BFF

If you’re into cooking food, you might be considering why to use cast iron.

With other non-stick options like Teflon, why would you ever use cast iron?

cast iron

What Is the Problem With Teflon, Exactly?

Teflon is just another name for a synthetic chemical, which is processed with other chemicals to make your non-stick surfaces.

These other chemicals are supposedly not present in significant amounts when the finished product is done.

(And we should all thoroughly trust the government to regulate what’s a “significant” amount of toxic chemicals and bleach in our stuff, right? Right.)

So.

These chemicals break down in high temps and get into your food, and therefore, in your body. They are carcinogenic.

You ESPECIALLY need to stay away when the pan is scratched, because then the literal particles of Teflon and its fun gang of chemical friends are going into your food/mouth.

You need to throw these things out immediately if they are scratched (and even if they are not scratched, but baby steps, right?)

So Why to USe Cast Iron?

I was introduced to cast iron the same summer I was introduced to coconut oil so you can bet my summer was filled with fun adventures of getting used to all the perks of the cast iron and using the hell out of that coconut oil.

And, it was also filled with a ton of nachos and refried beans, thanks to a recipe out of a gluten-free book called Gluten is my Bitch by April Peveteaux, which was, coincidentally, also given to me that summer for my birthday.

ANYWAY. So, why to use cast iron?

  • You can use it on the stove or in the oven.
  • You do not have to wash it. At all. (Ok so you can wash it sometimes and maybe you even should when you cook meat in it but who am I to say?)
  • It holds temperature really well, although it takes a bit more time to get heated up.
  • You can do weight workouts with it when you’ve misplaced your dumbbells.
  • You can club people with it and there’s a possibility they may not return from unconsciousness. Which comes in handy when you live alone in a cabin in the woods.
  • It does not have nasty harmful chemicals in it that will give you cancer.

I first learned that I didn’t have to wash cast iron when I actually washed it and it rusted. I had to refinish it several times after that. LEARNING CURVE.

It’s easy to refinish a cast iron once you’ve royally screwed over your pan, so don’t worry. Another awesome reason about why to use cast iron. It’s virtually indestructible.

You just need some steel wool and some oil or fat. Cast iron does not need to be washed. I wipe mine out with a cloth when I’m done. Then again, I am also not cooking raw meats in there or commercial eggs which may have campylobacter or salmonella.

So, if you’re cooking these things in a cast iron, you might want to use just a little Dr. Bronner’s to rinse it out. You’re allowed to use a little dish soap, but only if it’s not tested on animals.

Cast iron holds heat really well, so after it’s heated up you need to turn that temp down to low most of the time. And don’t try and pick it up without a cloth or a potholder when it’s hot! Ooo baby.

Doesn’t Food Cooked In Cast Iron Stick?

Actually, if it’s been properly seasoned (oiled) and maintained, it doesn’t stick at all. A great reason why to use cast iron.

You DO need to use more oil than a Teflon pan, though. If you are not using enough oil, your food will stick.

To get the stuck food out, use kosher salt or your metal spatula.

Don’t soak it! Water and cast iron do not mix well (it’s ok to add water to the pan when cooking but it may alter the seasoning a little, making it more likely to stick).

There are a ton of tips and helpful sites out there to assist you with your first cast iron. Don’t be afraid! You should be afraid of getting cancer, not some silly heavy pan.

Where to Buy and Prices

You can get a medium-size cast iron for as cheap as $9.99 at T.J Maxx. I also found a big cast iron that I use when I’m cooking for more than one person at a flea market in Virginia for $10.

They do sell new ones for quite a bit of money, though. For your first one, I wouldn’t spend that much. Try to find something cheaper so you can experiment and you won’t feel entirely heartbroken if you’ve ruined it. Look and you will find when considering why to use cast iron.

NOTE: I’ve heard recently that commercial cast iron pans are sprayed with some type of chemicals to make them “seasoned”. I haven’t looked into this claim yet because both my cast irons have been so damn seasoned over my years of use that I’m pretty sure any chemicals have burned off. But check it out before buying…

I’m Not Into Cast Iron—What Else Can I Use?

There are other alternatives out there. You can use ceramic. Supposedly ceramic is cool. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet because the non-stick nature of it reminds me of Teflon, even though I know it’s NOT Teflon.

You can also use copper and stainless steel, but be aware these metals may be made with other metals and get into the food too. Look for high-quality stainless steel.

Glass and Corningware seem ok. I’ve also heard that the type of iron used in the cast iron pans is not great for the body either as the body doesn’t absorb it the same way as it would an organic iron.

Confusing, right? As long as I’m not using Teflon, I feel ok.

So there you have it. Give cast iron a try. These pans are cheap, virtually indestructible, and make amazing dishes that crisp like no other. Why would you ever go back to Teflon when you could have one of these gems?