Friday, February 11, 2011

It's Eggcellent to buy local

Yup, that's poop!

I want chickens. Just ask my husband.  But I can't have chickens because we live in the woods and we have outdoor cats and well, that's a bad combination for keeping fowl nearby.  How nice would it be to just run outside and gather some fresh eggs? It's not happening. I'd better get used to the thought.

Living on the cusp of the countryside in Pennsylvania gives me access to many local farmers.  Less than 3 miles from my house lives a Mennonite family that does all of their own farming.  I'm not even sure exactly what their main income is, I'm guessing a little of everything. They raise some cows for beef and have a farm stand in the growing months.  I happened upon their little farm one day (5 years ago) by driving by and noticing an "eggs for sale" sign.

Having just moved from the Burbs, I was intrigued and pulled into the driveway.  At the time, they were selling Free-Range eggs for $1 a dozen! (It's gone up to a "whopping" $1.50 now)  

The family has 6 children, 5 girls and a boy.  The girls all run around in braids and barefeet in the summer time. It's exactly how you imagine idyllic country life! Smudged faces, dangling on a swing, playing with the dog, wash hanging on the line, and chickens wandering around pecking at the ground.

Each child is put to work helping with the chores around the property.  They have an extra refridgerator in the garage to store the eggs.  Did you know that you don't have to refridgerate fresh eggs? They can stay at room temperature for about a week if they are fresh.  This makes me think of those antique egg baskets full of eggs. (We live in a very germ phobic country!)

Did you know that when the egg is laid, a protective coating is put on the outside by the hen?
Did you also know that at the plant, government regulations require that USDA-graded eggs be carefully washed and sanitized using special detergent which is often Chlorine or other synthetic agents? Then the egg is coated with a tasteless, mineral oil to protect it. Mineral oil is a Petroleum product that is not meant to be eaten.
Did you know that washing the eggs with these sanitizing solutions can damage the cuticle? Remember that eggs are porous like our skin.  Even Organic Eggs are treated. This decreases shelf life and makes the eggs prone to contamination.

Did you know that 95% of our eggs come from "hen factories" where the hens are all squished in, don't ever see the sun, and eat, poop, and lay their eggs all in the same place? No wonder they have to wash the eggs!

During the summer, they sell an array of fresh picked vegetables. Some days, I drive by and see the whole family in the field behind their house picking tomatoes. I've canned tomatoes almost every summer since I've moved here. She sells a huge basket full of canning tomatoes for $3.50! They are amazing.

There's just something special about handing them a couple of dollars for my purchase of eggs or vegetables and knowing that the money goes straight to their own family.  I know that what I buy from them is something they eat themselves, it's fresh, and supports their livelihood.

I don't know about you, but I think I'd rather wash a little chicken poo off my eggs and know that they aren't compromised.

Do you have any farms near you? The more local foods that we eat, the better our nutrition will be.

Going to make an omelet,
The Lunch Lady

1 comment:

adamackenzie said...

So jealous!!! Growing up with our own chickens, I really miss nest to frying pan in a matter of minutes eggs. =( We're not allowed to have chickens here in our little planned neighborhood...waahh. And as far as I know, it's a good 45 minutes to where lancaster farm country starts, where I could get such good fresh local produce and eggs. You're so blessed! :)