My grandmother used to say, “You will never go hungry if you keep eggs in your home!” And with a large family to feed, this is a saying that endures over time! Keeping your own laying hens in your backyard or urban garden is a fantastic way to provide a wide variety of sweet and savory dishes, giving you the added benefits of knowing exactly where your food comes from.
If you are a laying hen owner, you will know that there is nothing like going out and looking for fresh eggs on your farm or patio every morning and turning these little nutritional powerhouses into your favorite delicacy.
But were you aware that using free-range eggs is actually more nutritious and has more health benefits than their caged, supermarket-bought counterparts? These are some of the ways your family benefits every time you collect fresh eggs from your chickens for breakfast.
Higher nutrient values
Not only in color or flavor, farm fresh eggs are superior, they have also been shown to have higher nutrient content than counterparts bought from supermarkets or grown by commercial egg producers.
Many laboratory tests have been done to compare farm fresh eggs to commercial eggs (also known as store-bought versions), farm-fresh eggs may contain:
- Two-thirds more vitamin A.
- 1/4 the amount of saturated fat.
- 1/3 of the amount of bad cholesterol.
Eggs got a bad rap for a while because experts claimed they were high in LDL or bad cholesterol. This is true for the eggs of caged chickens, which live a much less healthy existence. However, organic pastured eggs have only trace amounts of the bad stuff because chicken diets are more varied and chickens get their exercise daily.
- Four to six times more vitamin D. Pasture-raised chickens go out in the sun. Like us, sun exposure facilitates your synthesis of vitamin D. This vitamin D reaches your eggs and then your body.
- Twice as many Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s are not only essential for healthy heart, brain, and nerve function, but they are also good for babies in the womb.
- Three times more vitamin E.
- Seven times more beta carotene.
- Happier chickens
We will not post the painful images that the horrors of commercial egg production leave us, you can Google it on your own. However, the reality is bleak. Even the egg cartons that claim their chickens are “free-range” don’t really tell the whole truth. Most commercial “free-range” chickens are raised in car-sized barns with little room to move once they are grown, and with very little access to outer space.
Farm-fresh eggs come from chickens that have a lot of ground moving and foraging, usually via portable chicken shelters that allow chickens to help organic farmers while rotating their crops. Chickens pecking around a plot about to be planted, or a crop that has just been harvested, is like Mother Nature’s way of cultivating the land and fertilizing the soil. That makes chickens happier and healthier.
Free-range egg benefits
Open an egg bought from the supermarket, then open an egg from the local farmers’ market (or your own backyard). The store egg will have a thin shell, pale yolk that breaks easily, and a watery white color.
The flavor will be smooth, the texture slippery.
A backyard hen’s egg will have thick shells, firm whites, and an incredibly bright yolk (often bright orange, accounting for all the beta carotene inside). The flavor will be much stronger and you will feel full of energy after your meal, not heavy.
So they look better, taste better, and are even better for you – happy eggs are actually healthier than those from the supermarket!
Instead of wandering your neighborhood, basket in hand listening to the distinctive sound of a hen you don’t own, and finding a backyard farmer where you can buy eggs, how about raising your own egg-laying hens?
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