Thursday, August 19, 2010

Egg recall good reason to grow your own

I have a mild chicken egg allergy. Fortunately being allergic to chicken eggs doesn't necessarily mean you are allergic to other types of eggs. That is one of the reasons I got in to raising ducks, and then recently, quail. I wanted fresh eggs without the risk of allergic reaction.

The latest food recall is just a reminder that I am doing the best possible thing for my health and the health of my family by producing my own eggs right in my suburban backyard. Not only do I have a handle on the allergy front, my eggs are not contaminated.

"Hundreds of Americans have likely become ill from tainted eggs, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said Thursday.

The Food and Drug Administration, which investigates food contamination, said the CDC received reports of approximately 200 salmonella cases every week during late June and early July. Normally, the CDC has received an average of some 50 reports of salmonella illness each week for the past five years. Many states have also reported increases of this pattern since May 2010, the FDA said.

A total of 380 million eggs have been recalled since last week because of concerns they may be tainted with the potentially deadly salmonella bacteria, the Egg Safety Center said." (more)Italic

Poultry raised in uncrowded conditions with access to fresh air, greens and sunshine are far less susceptible to disease and infections. Commercially raised chickens are crowded, not allowed in the sun, get no fresh grass or other greens, and require medication to fight infections. Even the fancy, expensive "cage-free" and "vegetarian-fed" eggs come from chickens who aren't roaming in a pasture, but are in large climate controlled warehouses standing in their own feces. If there is an outdoor area, often the hens are packed in so tight they couldn't possibly get to the door even if they tried.

And here is a news flash... chickens ARE NOT vegetarians. If your eggs come from chickens that are vegetarian fed, they are coming from chickens raised in confinement. Given the chance a chicken will eat bugs, worms, lizards, or even mice. They thrive on animal protein.

Having your own egg layers is an obvious solution, but not everyone has the time, space or ability to raise their own poultry and produce their own eggs. If you can't raise a chicken or even a few quail, check your local craigslist. Often small farmers and backyard chicken owners sell their surplus. Don't be afraid to ask for pictures or even if they allow visitors. Due to biosecurity concerns, some might not allow you to roam through their hen house, but they should at least be able to send you a cell phone pic of the chicken's pen and run. Another option is the farmer's market. Talk to the farmers and make sure they are bringing their own eggs, not just reselling commercially raised eggs. Get to know them on an individual basis and learn as much as you can about their birds. Really know your food.

Humanely produced eggs do cost more than eggs you find at the supermarket, but the extra nutrition from naturally raised eggs makes them well worth it. According to a study by Mother Earth News, "Our latest tests show that pastured eggs have anywhere between 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D as typical supermarket eggs." (more) Other benefits include more vitamin A, vitamin e, beta carotene, and omega 3 fatty acids.

Just remember that cheap food isn't cheap. Those 99 cent/dozen eggs can come at a much higher price to your health than the dollar or two you save when buying them. It also comes at a price to the animal's health and welfare. Ask yourself how much your health and karma are worth to you these days?

Note: For more information on modern farming and food raising practices, rent the documentary FOOD, INC.