Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chefs have great difficulty finding real free range eggs

There's an excellent article about the difficulty in finding real free range eggs by chef Sebastian Carosi, published in the US newspaper, Rappahannock News.
Here's some of his article.

Good eggs are hard to come by — harder than you may think. It seems you can find chicken and eggs labeled “organic” and “free range” in just about any grocery store these days, packaged in bucolic images of rolling green hills and red barns. That is almost never the reality, even among these supposedly humane alternatives.
A chicken fed organic feed in a confinement barn with a tiny dirt yard does not represent ethical or sustainable farming. With this said, I guess that it all depends on how lazy the farmer is . . .
If said farmer does not let his barnyard birds out of the coop until noon, chances are the hens’ laying boxes will be full of quality eggs. But, if said chickens are let out to pasture, the said “lazy farmer” must start the process of finding and gathering all of the eggs that the hens have deposited around the yard, and carefully get them to the barn or kitchen to wash.
Pastured eggs are seasonal — the hens lay less as the days get shorter. In industrial confined egg operations they use artificial lights and a horrible practice called forced molting to overcome this. That means that starting in October, egg production declines and by November, may be half what it is in the summer. However, while the ladies are resting and not earning their keep, they are eating even more expensive grains because of the cold weather. That’s another reason why pastured eggs cost more.

Not everything he says is entirely accurate - for example our hens are never locked up in their sheds and yet the vast majority of them lay their eggs in nest boxes. We don't have to find the eggs in the 'yard' (or paddock in our case) and we never need to wash our eggs -because they aren't dirty.
You can read the rest at:

We have asked the William Angliss catering school in Melbourne to consider including farm visits to different egg production facilities so budding chefs can understand the different production systems and see why the qualityof eggs varies.

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