Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Eggs: what's the difference?

A few years ago, Mother Earth News undertook a bit of interesting research. Apparently, the professional egg producers had long insisted that no research had ever shown free-range eggs to differ nutritionally from factory-farmed eggs. Well, that wasn't exactly the truth, since no study had ever been done comparing the two. So, Mother Earth News set out to have some free-range eggs tested. I remember reading the results of their tests at the time -- the free-range eggs were more nutritious.

A couple days ago, I received my February-March 2009 issue of Mother Earth News, and I learned that they've continued this research. Four pastured farms (Texas, Kentucky, Kansas, Pennsylvania) sent their eggs to a lab, and again the free-range eggs had more nutrition than what the USDA claims is in eggs -- data that is, of course, based upon factory-farmed chickens.

So, what's the difference? Free-range eggs contain . . .
  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 X more omega-3 fatty acids (the good one)
  • 3 X more vitamin E
  • 7 X more beta carotene
  • 3-6 X more vitamin D (On the high end, this means that an egg contains 126 percent of the US RDA of Vit. D, which is quite significant since Vit. D deficiency is becoming a problem in this country.)
For those of us with our own chickens that are free-ranged, this comes as no surprise -- especially the beta carotene. Store-bought eggs have a very pale yellow yolk, whereas free-range chicken eggs are school-bus yellow.

Mike and I are still working our way through Michael Pollan's latest book, In Defense of Food, but this really corroborates his research on the difference between naturally-raised food and factory-farmed food. I'll be doing a review of that book when we're done with it.


SkippyMom said...

Those are fascinating facts - the cholesterol [lesser] and Vit. D [more] are what interest me the most...how great.

Thanks for sharing.

Can I move my family now?

Sharrie said...

Another plus for having chickens. Now enough yet. Best I get my eggs from the Amish.

Nancy K. said...

Fascinating information! I'm seriously thinking that I may need to get more chickens...

clink said...

I am so glad to hear that. I'm going to find a link and send it to all my customers.

Love Mother Earth News!

Tifany said...

Great article, thanks for sharing! Makes the extra bit I charge for a dozen farm fresh well worth it!

Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

Makes me wish my husband wasn't so dead set against free-range poop! Still, I know our chickens in their coop and yard are far better off than their poor caged sisters, getting fresh air, sunshine and hand-picked grass every day.

Deborah said...

Glad to hear everyone found this info useful! Chickens are the easiest thing to raise. I've often said that I'm so spoiled by the fresh eggs that I'll always have chickens, even if I'm old and in a wheelchair.

sasa said...



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