When you pick eggs for you and your family there are a few things you should know about labeling of eggs. There are basically only a couple of labels we see with eggs; ORGANIC, FREE RANGE or PASTURED, and CAGE FREE. Labeling eggs NATURAL and that the hens are HAPPY means absolutely nothing, it is just a visual label that producers who have nothing better to label their eggs put on the package. Unfortunately this confuses consumers; eggs are “natural” already but this says nothing about the conditions the hens are raised or what feed is given to them. The label “happy” hens doesn’t even make since, what is a happy hen? This still doesn’t say how she is raised or what she is feed. The stressed point on what she is fed is because everything that she eats is passed to the egg (mother to embryo), I know you get the point now. I obviously recommend only Organic eggs, but you should educate yourself on which ones you want to choose. I have compiled some basic information about eggs for you to review.
Organic eggs have strict rules on how the hens are fed, raised and vaccinated. According to the USDA, laying hens have to have access to the outdoors, cannot be raised in cages and only natural molting can occur within the flock. The producers cannot use antibiotics except during an infectious outbreak. Organic certification also requires maintenance of basic animal welfare standards. The feed given to the hens has to be certified organic, free of GMO’s (genetically modified organisms), synthetic fertilization and no animal by-products. Finding organic eggs is pretty easy; they are available at most stores and FARMERS MARKETS.
Organic eggs should not be confused with “FREE RANGE or PASTURED” or “CAGE FREE” eggs. “FREE RANGE or PASTURED” are hens that are allowed to roam in pastures but probably live in hen houses at night. “CAGE FREE” just means they are not in individual cages. This does not mean that they are in a field eating bugs: just that they are not in a cage but possibly a large hen house. These two names also do not guarantee what kind of feed they are given. ONLY ORGANIC EGGS are guaranteed to be fed an organic diet. Some producers will list a vegetarian diet but this still doesn’t mean an organic diet.
Eggs provide you with a supply all essential amino acids, vitamins A, B2, B6, B12, iron, choline, calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. The YOLK contains vitamins A, D and E, omega-3 fatty acids and choline. Eggs are also single food source of protein, meaning they are a complete protein by themselves.
Eggs have many uses and ways to eat them. They can be used as base like omelets, eat plain (cooked), a thickening agent, hard boiled for a healthy snack or my favorite way, as QUICHE! Quiche can be one of those foods that you can pretty much add any ingredient and it tastes great. I do crust-less quiche and have eaten it one time or another for every meal. For breakfast I pair it up with fresh organic fruit, for lunch it is coupled with a small fresh organic greens salad and if I have it at dinner is goes perfect with a hot cup of homemade soup. Quiche can also be a good way to use up small amounts of leftover ingredients like the lone jalapeno half, left over organic grilled chicken breast, leftover baked wild salmon and so on. I have also made quiche in a muffin tin; this makes a great presentation at Sunday brunch. Quiche is wonderful the next day so I make mine the night before and refrigerate until I eat it the next day. Check out my recipe for VEGETABLE QUICHE.
Now that you have learned on what type of eggs you want to get, go get some and start cooking!