National CSA Directory
February 12, 2019
Yes, eggs are available year round from the farm or grocery store, however, as the buds start to bloom, grasses start to grow and microbial bugs and earthworms start to proliferate, pastured chickens enjoy their buffet. With this buffet comes more vitamins and nutrients. In the Springtime, eggs are at their nutritional peak. But you ask, where are the local organic farms near me?
USDA Standards for Organic Eggs
To qualify as organic, eggs must come from chickens that are fed only organic feed (i.e., feed that is free of animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides or other chemical additives). No genetically modified foods can be used. Additionally, organic eggs must come from chickens that are given antibiotics only in the event of an infection—commercial chickens, on the other hand, are given antibiotics on a routine basis. No hormones or other drugs can be used in organic egg production.
Molting—when birds shed their older feathers to make room for new ones—is sometimes induced in commercial egg and chicken production by withholding food, water, or by other means. Molting extends the productive life of laying chickens, but it cannot be induced in chickens laying organic eggs; only natural molting is allowed to occur.
Organic eggs must come from chickens that live in cage-free environments and have access to the outdoors, even if their outdoor area is just a small pen or enclosed yard area. Pens are used to protect the chickens and their eggs from predators like hawks, foxes, racoons, coyotes, and other animals.
Egg grades explained
Are organic eggs affordable? They’re not cheap. Organic eggs can cost up to $4/dozen, roughly double the cost of commercial eggs. This is largely due to the extra expenses involved in meeting organic certification requirements.
Finally, be aware that free-range eggs aren’t necessarily the same as organic—the USDA requires that free-range eggs come from chickens that have some access to a small, fenced patch of cement (which they may or may not use). Additionally, free-range chickens might eat non-organic feed and are sometimes given antibiotics or other drugs.
Similarly, sellers of vegetarian eggs, antibiotic-free eggs, or so-called “all-natural eggs” aren’t subject to the same scrutiny as organic eggs. Since nobody’s really checking, it’s up to the manufacturer to set their own standards for what constitutes a vegetarian egg. As always, be aware when buying eggs, since you might or might not get what’s advertised.
Eggs and Health
Research on moderate egg consumption in two large prospective cohort studies found that up to one egg per day is not associated with increased heart disease risk in healthy individuals.
Eggs were previously associated with heart disease risk. However, a solid body of research shows that for most people, cholesterol in food has a smaller effect on blood levels of total cholesterol and harmful LDL cholesterol than does the mix of fats in the diet.
Of course, this research doesn’t give a green light to daily three-egg omelets. A 2008 report from the Physicians’ Health Study supports the idea that eating an egg a day is generally safe for the heart. You also need to pay attention to the “trimmings” that come with your eggs.
Furthermore, to truly assess eggs and heart health, we need to examine how they stack-up to foods we might choose in their place.
While eggs may be a much better choice than sugary, refined grain-based options like sweetened breakfast cereals, bagels, muffins, or pancakes with syrup, they may fall short of other options. A bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and berries will be a much better choice for heart health than an egg-ocentric breakfast. Consumption of whole grains and fruit predict lower risk of heart disease, and when it comes to protein, plant sources like nuts and seeds are related to lower cardiovascular and overall mortality, especially when compared to red meat or eggs.
The answer to where are the local organic farms near me? National CSA Directory is a good place to find out. Take a few minutes to look around and explore how we are changing the way people shop for organic whole foods.