I'm not usually one for sweeping generalizations, but I have to admit: eggs come quite close to being a naturally perfect food. Flawlessly balanced and containing nearly every nutrient currently identifiable by mankind, eggs have provided individuals with a reliable source of quality proteins and fat-soluble nutrients for centuries. However, while they may be "incredible and edible," not all eggs are created equal. It turns out that most all commercial eggs are terribly devoid of nutrients and that even terms like "organic" and "cage-free" are not as important as marketers would lead you to believe when it comes to quality. Learn how to find the best eggs and use them for this charming, nutrient-packed flower power egg recipe inspired by our friends at Healing Quest TV!
Figuring Out the Labels: Problems with "organic" and "cage-free"
For a time condemned as "evil" by the alarmingly incorrect anti-cholesterol dogma of the mainstream medical community, eggs have started to make a well-deserved comeback across popular circles. However, as a result of this era of misinformation, there are many egg substitute products and no-yolk recipes lingering out there on the market. Thus it is important to point out that when we talk about eggs, this does not mean the strange yellow "liquid egg" that comes pouring from a carton. Nor does it include the lonely plops of egg whites that jiggle forlorn next to a butter-free slice of toast on a low fat plate. The steamy fast food eggs which somehow contain over 20 ingredients certainly can't really be considered eggs. Real eggs are not even the bright white, mass-produced, packed-by-machine cartons that are driven by truckload to the grocery store either. Though it may be surprising for some, even grocery store eggs labeled "organic" and "cage-free" don't make the cut. That's right- we are talking about whole, honest, pastured and locally produced eggs!
95% of eggs produced in the US are from caged hens that are not allowed to forage, nest, perch or exercise. To increase profit margins, most are fed cheap, measly and likely genetically modified grain meal, never exposed to sunlight and subject to cruel treatments which make them far from healthy. Even the highest quality commercial eggs from hens fed flax or fish meal do not have an optimal fatty acid profile because these birds are never allowed access to vitamin-D producing sunlight nor the bugs and worms they were intended to peck at in the pasture.
"Cage-free" labels indicate that hens are allowed out of a confined space to exhibit a more normal range of behaviors, however it does not mean that they are afforded any time outside. While "organic" and "free-range" eggs are from hens that are allowed access to the outdoors, there are no regulations as to the quality or duration of this time; in fact they may very well not be on a pasture nor given any exposure to sunlight. What's more birds under any of these labels are also still subject to cruel, stressful treatments such as beak trimming and forced molting, wherein they are forced into starvation for 7-12 days to increase egg production rate. These are certainly not humane, nourishing nor health-promoting conditions.
Health Benefits of Eggs from Pastured Chickens
As consumers, it is important that we do our best to find the highest quality products. In this way we are empowered to vote with our dollars and create a demand for properly produced eggs from pastured chickens. Do your best to buy from farms, producers and companies you trust whenever possible. If you live locally be sure to take a tour of the farm to observe the conditions first hand and share in a sense of community.
Try comparing a commercial egg yolk to that of an egg from a bird that has been locally pastured. You will notice that the commercial egg yolk will be sadly pale in color compared with the brilliant golden-yellow of the pastured egg yolk. This difference in tone demonstrates the significant variances in beneficial caretenoids and other nutrients. Including healthy, local, pastured eggs in your diet will give you:
- 5-7 grams of sulphur-containing proteins for cell membrane health
- 8 essential protein-building amino acids
- Long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA for the nervous system
- 200 mg of healthy, brain-loving cholesterol
- Minerals iron, phosphorous potassium and calcium
- Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and X-Factor Activator vitamin K
- Highly bioavailable antioxidants including carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin
Recipe: Pepper Flower Pastured Eggs
Not only are eggs wonderful for you, but smiling has also been proven to boost the immune system, reduce blood pressure and lower stress...so have a little fun with your breakfast! Try out this creative, nutrient dense breakfast idea using pastured eggs that we got from Healing Quest, the brilliant television series with an innovative mission to bring messages of natural health and healing to the mainstream. This recipe is a delicious, quick and easy way to encourage kids eat eggs in the morning- and its great for adults too, of course!
4 Pastured Eggs
1 Bell Pepper
1/2 Tbsp Grass Fed Ghee
Unrefined Salt and Pepper (optional)
1. Cut bell peppers (preferably organic as these are one of the dirty dozen) into 1/2 inch slices
2. Melt about 1/2 tbsp grass fed ghee in a skillet over medium heat.
3. Place peppers in skillet and crack one egg into the center of each pepper ring.
4. Cover and cook for a few minutes, until yolks have reached their desired firmness.
5. Season with unrefined salt and pepper to taste. Smile and enjoy!
Find this recipe and other fantastic healthy living tips on the Healthy Home Economist's Monday Mania, Allergy Free Wednesdays and Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways. And for all you pinners out there, be sure to also check out the brand new Monday Mania Pinterest Page!