Thursday, June 29, 2006

Free Range Eggs - Why Buy Them?

There are quite a few reasons people buy Free Range Eggs. Most chefs who care about the food they prepare always buy the best ingredients - and that includes fresh free range eggs. They make better soufles, omelettes or scrambled, poached - or even simply fried or boiled. Just taste the difference.

A free range egg straight from the farm is a gourmet delight. But you need to sure that the farm is an accredited free range producer - and that's a problem in Australia and many other countries. Because the legal definition of a free range egg is so woolly (or non-existent) many farms claim their eggs are free range so they can command a higher price when in reality the eggs they sell are from hens mainly confined in sheds.

The normal image of free range is of birds roaming pastures seeking out worms and all the other little goodies they can find. And that's what you get from farms accredited by the Free Range Farmers Association. Each farm is inspected every year to ensure it complies with all conditions - including access to pasture and no de-beaking. Some farms never lock their hens up. Have a look at the Freeranger website: Our hens have mobile roost houses in which they lay their eggs but they spend most of the day, and even some of the night foraging in the grass.

That's true free range. Not the marketing hype of some intensive farm system which has a pop hole in the side of the shed leading to a barren enclosure of mud or concrete.

Phil Westwood

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