Hello, hello. If you’re stopping by here to check out this week’s CEiMB recipe of pancakes with nutty topping, I actually made it last September and you can find it here. I recall liking it although the topping was a tad bit too sweet. I’m not a big honey fan though, so I would definitely make it again with more maple syrup instead of honey. Yummy. I’ve craving pancakes now. 😆
So yeah, this post is exactly one week late, but it is a post I really wanted to write despite the delay. Last week I attended a really fun dinner hosted by Kitchenbelle and Egg-land’s Best. About 30 Boston bloggers attended this dinner, so there is a very high probability that you’ve already read a recap on one (or more) of these bloggers’ blogs. So don’t worry – this is not really an event recap post. This dinner made me think of a subject that I would really like to bring up on this blog… and of course get your opinions on. Let’s talk eggs!
Egg-land’s Best organized a really clever dinner with the “breakfast for dinner” theme. I have to say, I know many of you are breakfast fanatics and love breakfast for dinner, but I am not completely sold on it. I’m all for a frittata or something like that, but fruit + french toast… not so much. The bloody Marys, however, I was not complaining about. 😉 So spicy and delicious. I had one with vodka and another virgin one.
The dinner was held at one of my favorite restaurants in Boston – Stella, and together with Egg-land’s Best the chefs created a very interesting menu. Yes, eggs really are incredibly versatile.
Stella Chop Salad with chicken, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, bacon, and red onion
Duck Omelet with duck confit, crumbled goat cheese, mushrooms, and baby spinach
Linguini “Carbonara” with poached egg, smoke bacon, and Parmesan
French Toast with warm Vermont maple syrup
Chocolate Torte with vanilla gelato and chocolate sauce
Everything was delicious. I love Stella and I love eggs. In between all the eating, we were bombarded with information about eggs and of course Egg-land’s Best eggs, which the Company claims are “the best.”
Things I liked:
- Eggs are nutritional power houses (loaded with vitamins) and are a great, cheap protein source (even premium eggs when compared to meat sources)
- Egg-land’s Best chickens are fed a nutritious diet so that the eggs are nutritionally superior to other brands one may find in a grocery store. Chickens are always fed a 100% vegetarian diet. Egg-land’s Best eggs have 75% more Vitamin B12 than regular eggs, 4x more Vitamin D than regular eggs, 10x more than regular eggs, more than 50% more Vitamin A than regular eggs, 3x more Omega 3 fatty acids than regular eggs, 25% less saturated fat than regular eggs. Impressive stats!
Things I heard that did not impress me – in fact are making me drastically change my ways…
Do you know the difference between factory farmed vs. cage free vs. organic eggs? Let me give you a quick summary so we’re all on the same page here.
– Factory farmed eggs – chickens are packed in cages (often to the point where they can hardly move!), there are no windows in facilities so factory farmed chickens never see daylight; chickens often consume feed animal byproducts (<– not the case with Egg-land’s Best chickens) and GMO crops; chickens are often de-beaked to prevent harming each other which is incredibly painful for them; chickens and eggs are pumped with antibiotics to discourage infections.
– Cage free eggs – chickens are not raised in cages, although they may still be packed in right on the floor and they do not have access to the outdoors. Windows must be included in the facilities. There is no difference in the feed of cage free chickens vs. factory farmed. Antibiotics use is usually the same as in factory farming.
– Organic eggs -significant differences cover feed, medication, and animal welfare. Organic hens are fed organic feed; it is prohibited to feed animal byproducts or GMO crops – which is not discontinued in free range environments; no antibiotics allowed except in emergencies; guaranteed animal welfare standards in organic farms (source: wikipedia). Chickens must have access to the outdoors.
Humane treatment of animals is very important to me so that’s why we’ve been buying organic eggs as soon as I found out that “cage free” is not a picture of chickens roaming around the fields, popping eggs in their merry ways. However, do you see the portion that I italicized – guaranteed animal welfare standards in organic farms? I was under the impression that meant something but apparently that’s up for interpretation and the minimal required standards are well… minimal. In my mind, chickens finally were no longer confined in small dark cages, they were not eating animal byproduts, which indirectly I would be consuming through those eggs…
… and then we asked Egg-land’s Best to talk about the size of a room organic chickens are in vs. the outdoor space they are allowed and I realized the reality of it all. Guess what? Egg-land’s Best and I’m sure most large corporations (Egg-land’s Best is by faaaaar the largest – they are the only national egg company) found loop holes in the rules (at least that’s how I see it). Yes, organic chickens are eating organic feed (good), no antibiotics are generally allowed (good) but the chickens are still spending majority of their lives in very confined spaces inside. There is a door at the end of the room that gives them access to a tiny piece of land, so now the Company can check the box that says “access to outdoor space provided.” Can most chickens even get there? Do they know what outdoor is? I was having nightmare-ish visions of packed “organic” chickens on top of each other with a little piece of grass outside and one chicken who discovered “the light”. Maybe I’m dramatic but something tells me that’s not very far from the truth when it comes to (chicken and) egg production by large corporations. It’s factory farming and the organic label is just another way for them to make extra profits. I mean, if the company believed in truly humane treatment, quality nutrition, etc. – wouldn’t all their chickens be raised under organic standards? That would be quite the statement for the largest egg producing company with national reach. But no, they choose to do the most economical thing (read: packing chickens in) while still charging consumers for premium eggs with “superior quality.” [Btw, Egg-land’s Best, you know that stress-free chickens produce even higher quality eggs? Maybe that’s something to consider!]
So what’s my conclusion? Am I becoming a vegan now? No. I still believe that eggs are a great nutritional source and I strongly believe that you can consume an omnivore diet if you educate yourself about the sources from which your food comes from. Some companies are passionate about the environment, about truly humane animal treatment, about sustainable practices. I would like to continue supporting such companies. In the summer and early fall, I buy most of my produce and eggs at the farmers market. I talk to the producers; I know exactly how the vegetables are grown and what the egg-producing chickens are eating (I can even visit the farms in many cases although admittedly I haven’t done that yet – maybe a road trip is in order this summer ). I can see the passion in the farmers eyes and it’s not $$ they are after. After this dinner, I am making it a priority to *always* purchase eggs at the farmers markets or from local shops that buy their eggs from local farms. Local eggs are available in most places year-round – you just have to get creative about sourcing them.
So that’s my “recap.” The dinner was indeed quite lovely and the Egg-land’s Best reps were super nice and passionate. I just don’t feel that the company stands for the same values as I do. What kind of eggs do you buy? Do you care about humane treatment of chickens? If so, what are you doing about it? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.