Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do You Like Green Eggs And Ham? Part 1
Green Eggs And Ham
"I am Sam!  Sam-I-Am!"

To be honest, I have never encountered a green ham.  If I did, I wouldn't eat it, because it would probably be moldy and gross.  However, I do eat green eggs at least once a week.  They come from Araucana chickens, a breed from South America.  While they are not quite as green as Sam-I-Am's eggs, they are just as delicious.
Green Eggs, No Ham

What's the difference between a green egg and a white egg?  Besides color and chicken breed, nothing.  They taste the same, have the same nutritional value (which I will cover in my next post), and look exactly the same inside.  I prefer green eggs because they're pretty.

However, not all eggs are created equal.  Egg quality depends on where the egg comes from.  Look on the side of the carton, or, even better, ask your local farmer at the market.  Better still, visit the farm to see the happy chickens pecking around outside.  The best way to know where your eggs come from is to have some chickens in your backyard.  They're low-maintenance, good at controlling the bug population, and produce a great fertilizer for your garden, if you care to collect it.

There are many terms in the egg world.  If it doesn't say cage-free, free-range, or pastured, it's probably a conventional, factory-farmed egg.  These eggs come from chickens packed into tiny cages, up to 10 at a time.  They get no sunlight, no exercise, and their cramped conditions create a putrid environment.  Their beaks are often removed to keep them from pecking each other since they are kept in such close quarters.  If your egg carton says "cage-free," you're a bit better off.  Cage-free chickens live in huge barns, cluck around, stretch their wings a little, but they don't go outside.  Unfortunately, these birds might also be de-beaked, making their eggs a less than ideal choice.  "Free-range" is better, but still may not be perfect.  Although the idea of a free-range chicken may give you fantasies of green, rolling pastures with content chickens enjoying the warmth of the sun, this may not be the case.  A free-range chicken only has to have access to the outside world, but that doesn't mean they take advantage of it.  The only way to know for sure is to know and trust your farmer.

The best choice?  Pastured eggs.  Pastured eggs come from hens who live... in a pasture!  The chickens are outside, in the fresh air, pecking and scratching in the dirt, laying eggs and being, well, chickens.  They are free to run around and do whatever it is that chickens want to do.  Our friends have pastured chickens.  Their two-year-old likes to run around with them, and their 6-year-old has an egg-selling business.  The eggs are delicious.

Remember when I said that eggs all taste the same?  Well, they don't.  A fresh, pastured egg will taste a billion times better than a grocery store egg.  They even look different.  The farm-fresh egg's yolk is orange, the white isn't runny or thin, and the shell is thick.  When you crack the egg open, the yolk should be round and look something like a bright orange bouncy-ball.  (However, it will not bounce.  Don't try it.)
Happy Chickens!
And the best part?  When you get your eggs from the market, they're real.  They aren't necessarily all pristine white and the same size, like a factory product (which conventional eggs are).  The local eggs are all different sizes, some huge, some tiny.  They're flecked with dirt and maybe a feather or two.  (Yeah, it's kind of gross, but unwashed eggs are less vulnerable to germs.  Weird but true.)  They usually come in re-used, grocery-store cartons with the brand-names crossed out, and the farmer's information written on a label.  In my experience, most farmers are eager to have you come out and visit their farm.  It's nice to actually know where my food is coming from.  Do you have any idea where those grocery store eggs came from?  Who cared for those chickens?  Did they ever see sunlight, breathe fresh air, or feel the grass beneath their feet?  Were they healthy birds, able to lay healthy eggs?

 "Say!  I like green eggs and ham!  I do!  I like them, Sam-I-Am!"

1 comment:

  1. I like them too, Sam I Am!! Excellent post. I am a firm believer in pastured eggs. Dee-lish!