Some one recently asked me “Why are free range eggs are so damn expensive? At first I was offended, then I was confused by the question.
Then I actually had to laugh. How could a measly 33 cent egg be such an emotional issue and the financial scorn of this one individual?
Finally I decided I had, before me, a great opportunity to educate someone regarding the world and economics of a local farmer.
Lots of people claim that we all should support our local farmer. It keeps money locally, it’s great for the environment as there is less waste from farm to table because outsourced food is coming from either out of state or out of country burning up diesel, tires, and the road. Buying local connects people to their food supply thereby ensuring they get the best product available.
But… sometimes people who complain about pricing don’t realize what it takes to get that all natural or organic food to them. It’s time to rethink our priorities when purchasing food for our families and start realizing you get what you pay for. CHEAP really doesn’t mean better.. of course more expensive doesn’t either. But a quality food grown with healthy ingredients on healthy land with sustainable practices by farmers who are committed to the best food they can raise and sell just costs more money.
So before I talk about the costs associated with producing “the incredible edible egg” (to borrow a phrase) I wanted to highlight a few health benefits from consuming this awesome food.
Some of this information is from an article I read authored by Dawn Walls-Thumma writing for SFGATE.
But first I want to start by pointing out eggs are a great source of protein. they provide complete protein. One hard-boiled egg has 6.29 grams of protein, which gives men 11 percent of their daily intake, while women get 14 percent.
Let’s begin with fat and cholesterol. The American Heart Association recommends reducing intake of both saturated fat and cholesterol in order to reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke. Several studies including one from “Mother Earth News” found that eggs from pasture-fed free-range hens contained 1/3 less cholesterol and 1/4 of the saturated fat as conventional eggs. Another Research and Education study gave some similar results, with pastured hens producing eggs with 10 percent less fat and 34 percent less cholesterol.
Vitamin A is needed for good teeth, bones, and eyes need this vitamin for good vision. It also acts as an antioxidant and protects cells from damage. Studies have shown that free-range eggs contained 67 percent and 40 percent more vitamin A, respectively, than cage bound mass produce unhappy hens eggs.
Vitamin E also also protects cells by acting as an antioxidant, in addition to promoting healthy blood and circulatory system function. Free-range eggs contain more vitamin E than their conventional counterparts. The “Mother Earth News” survey found triple the vitamin E in the eggs they tested, and Pennsylvania State University research found double the vitamin E in the eggs of grass-fed hens
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are a form of polyunsaturated fat known as “essential” fatty acids because the body cannot manufacture them on its own; you must consume them from food. Omega-3s are connected to heart health, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, and other potential health benefits such as decreased risk of diabetes, stroke, digestive disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, some cancers and dementia. All three studies found higher amounts of omega-3s in free-range eggs versus conventional eggs. “Mother Earth News” reported the most modest differences, with the free-range eggs they tested containing only twice the omega-3s as conventional eggs, while the Penn State study found 2 1/2 times more. Another Education study four free-range hens produced eggs with four times the omega-3s as their caged sisters.
So now that we agree on the health benefits of eggs lets talk about the cost of production. In order to move our ladies during their laying season we have to provide adequate shelter for their health and safety.
In order to offer something different than the mass produced egg where the hen is bound to a small cage with no access to fresh air, sunshine or grass, we like to provide them with fresh grass, bugs, and sunshine all day long.
We do this by using a chicken tractor to house our girls.
To move this “Hen Hotel” takes man hours and fuel. We can’t move it by hand so we have to use our tractor or skid steer. This of course adds to the expense.
We also provide electrified fencing to keep them safe from predators like hawks, eagles and coyotes.
Just the other day Chad was able to “dispatch” one of those predators (the fury kind that love to use their teeth).
And when it comes to supplying food, we use the best feed we can find. Fresh pasture and plenty of all natural feed gives these hens what it takes to supply us with the jumbo eggs we offer. That kind of feed is costly and sometimes challenging to find.
You add distribution costs, FDA compliance permits and licenses and you see that there is quite an expense to getting fresh healthy jumbo eggs to our customers.
I could go on and on extolling the AWESOMENESS of that small oval chicken fruit. But I won’t. It is nice to know that with all the heath benefits that eggs provide, it also gives us a good protein for 33 cents per serving. Try to venture to the health food store and get the same vitamins, protein and omega-3 fatty acids for that price, not to mention…. have you tasted some of those vitamins?