Monday, April 30, 2007

The Color of Egg Yolks

Grass is Mother Nature’s sunshine storage unit for her creatures food use. This is the starting point for deep rich golden/orange yolk color in your eggs.

Beta carotene, or xanthophyll both are natural plant pigments. When hens are able to eat green plant material or yellow corn (factory farm hens are sometimes fed yellow dye or other supplements to color the yolks), the beta carotene concentrates in the yolk making it dark sometimes even orange.

Fresh green, growing, grass is a very important component in any chickens diet, and with Pastured hens that component is present in daily abundance.

Pasturing also produces high levels of vitamins A and E. On average, about twice as much vitamin E and 40 percent more vitamin A are in the yolks of pasture-fed birds than in confined birds

Poultry raised on fresh pasture instead of stored grain get more unsaturated fats and vitamins in their diets. “It’s like the difference between fresh and canned vegetables.

Eating eggs from pastured chickens will enrich your diet with a host of key nutrients, including beta-carotene; vitamins B12 and E; CLA, another newly discovered "good" fat called "TVA;" omega-3 fatty acids; and lutein. Meanwhile, it will reduce your intake of synthetic hormones, pesticides, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, and pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.

We take all of this into account in producing our World’s Best Eggs at Coyote Creek Farm. We treat our grass as carefully as we treat our chickens. We spray compost tea on our pastures four times each year, and the we feed the biology in our soils twice each year with, Hydrolisyzed fish, molasses, kelp, and other micro nutrients. This assures that the grass that our chickens eat is nutrient dense, which makes the eggs nutrient dense, which gives you the highest quality food that is packed with Mother Nature’s very best nutrition.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Jeremiah’s Farm & Food News

“On average, 10 calories of fossil-fuel energy are used in producing, processing, transporting, and preparing every calorie of food we consume in the United States, according to studies by David Pimentel of Cornell University.”

“A recent report from the Worldwatch Institute estimated that food in the United States travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to table.”
Grist Magazine

This brings us to the subject of Carbon-Footprint. Please add this word to your vocabulary, and to your food shopping habits.

Whole Foods Market has a dedicated goal of putting more locally grown food on their shelves. Coyote Creek Farm is a product of this effort to foster small, sustainable family farms near all their stores. They have even instatuted a $10,000,000 loan program to put their money where their mouth is.

Check your egg carton to see where the eggs were produced, and all other things being equal buy the eggs, or other food, that are closest to your home. In doing so you are helping to lower the use of fossil fuels, and lowering the nation’s Carbon-Footprint.

At Coyote Creek Farm we do a number of things to further reduce the Carbon-Footprint of our eggs; things like no-till farming, compost tea for fertilizer, organic practices, even down to compact fluorescent bulbs instead of incandescent. Idealists? Yes, that, but these days the “Idealist” of yesterday is today’s Realist. Our shopping habits can make a difference in our planet’s atmosphere.

Amazing Omega-3 Eggs

From Jordan Rubin’s, Biblical Health Daily

High omega-3 eggs are nature's nearly perfect food. Eggs contain all known nutrients except for vitamin C! They are good sources of fat-soluble vitamins A and D as well as certain carotenoids that guard against free-radical damage to the body. They also contain lutein, which has been shown to prevent age-related macular degeneration. When possible, buy eggs directly from farms where the chickens are allowed to roam free and eat their natural diet, or purchase eggs marked DHA or high omega-3 eggs (they contain a healthy balance of omega-3 to omega-6). Despite the unfounded cholesterol scare during the past 15 years, eggs can be a healthy addition to anyone's diet; they can actually help reduce the risk of both heart disease and cancer.
From Jordan Rubin’s, Biblical Health Dail

Egg Types

1. Pastured— This term is just coming into use. Simply put Pastured chickens spend their day in an open pasture. They eat green grass which is the primary source of Omega-3. They also eat bugs and grubs. Chickens are not vegetarians, they are omnivorous. They don't just have "access" to a small outdoor space, they live outdoors except at night when they are shut up in a coop.

2. Free range or free roaming— Poultry are free to roam; however, the use of the term "free range" is only defined by the USDA for poultry production, and need only mean that the bird has had some access to the outdoors each day, which could be a dirt or concrete feedlot. USDA considers five minutes of open-air access each day to be adequate. Claims are defined by UDSA, but are not verified by third party inspectors.

3. Cage Free—
This term implies that birds were not housed in cages. However, this label does not guarantee access to the outdoors, and is not verified by any third party.

4. No antibiotics administered, raised without antibiotics or antibiotic-free—
The USDA allows producers to label meat and poultry products with the claims "no antibiotics administered" or "raised without antibiotics." The term "antibiotic-free" is not approved for use by the USDA. Claims are defined by UDSA, but are not verified by third party inspectors.

5. Vegetarian Diet—
Poultry are fed grains and vegetarian supplements without any animal by-products. This claim is verified by third-party inspectors only for USDA organic eggs. This is actually an unnatural diet for chickens, because chickens are omnivorous.

6. Omega 3—
Some egg labels state the level of Omega-3, a fatty acid that can help sustain normal blood pressure, promote normal blood clotting and keeps our blood vessels flexible. While an ordinary egg contains 18 mg. of Omega-3, an Omega-3-enriched egg typically contains 100-350 mg. Egg farmers increase omega-3 levels by feeding their hens grain rich in these substances. Claims are not verified by third-party inspectors.

Whole Foods Market has started a program, in late 2006, to make these labeling categories more transparent. Many shoppers when they see "Free Range" assume that the hens are out Free, on a Range, this is not true and is very misleading. The egg business has been dominated by very large industrial type egg producers and use every marketing ploy legally available to make their product more likely to be chosen by the uneducated shopper.

This Whole Foods labeling system will be based on Five Stars, and only true Pastured eggs will be able to achieve the Five Star rating on the labels. World's Best Eggs aims to be one of the very first producers to achieve this rating.

The proof is in the yolk. Crack open a "Free Range" vegetarian fed egg, and then beside that crack open a Pastured egg and note the difference in the color of the yolk. The Pastured yolk will invariably be a deeper golden yellow color.

Pastured eggs tend to come from small family farms that practice sustainable methods organic or not and even if these eggs are not certified Organic, they are still far superior to eggs produced by “Free Range” hens who spend their entire life inside a barn.

Happy eggs: "free range," "cage free," "organic", "pastured"—what's the story? - Eating Right

E: The Environmental Magazine, May-June, 2003 by Starre Vartan

In the past 10 years, the egg has undergone a remarkable transformation, from a humble provider of protein, vitamins and minerals to an all-purpose edible conduit through which beneficial nutrients or potentially harmful chemicals can pass into the human body. As Americans become more critical of what they eat, small farmers and large-scale agribusiness have responded with a bewildering array of choices. And with the increasing variety of food products, even basics like eggs can confuse consumers.

In any reasonably enlightened grocery store, the consumer can choose between "free range," "cage-free" and "organic" eggs. One brand may be "fortified with omega-3's," and another from hens fed only with "natural grains." One package is simply labeled "natural." What do these different labels actually mean? And what is their significance to people with widely varying needs, such as a heart disease sufferer, a nursing mother, a vegetarian and an animal rights activist? And weren't eggs supposed to be bad for you anyway, being packed with fat and cholesterol?
The truth is that although eggs' nutritional value has been demonized in the past, they are a valuable source of protein, vitamins and minerals. A large egg has about 215 grams of cholesterol (about 70 percent of the daily allowance), meaning that it is probably best to eat them in moderation. However, eggs do contain heart-healthy nutrients such as antioxidants, folate and B-vitamins.

Organic and cage-free eggs have shown seven-fold growth since 1997. "Specialty eggs," as Linda Braun, consumer services director at the American Egg Board terms them, "Amount to about five percent of the total U.S. egg market." But this growing popularity has allowed smaller organic family farms to compete with the mechanized egg-producing giants, since they can charge up to twice as much for a dozen eggs.

In fact, many smaller farms have been able to stay in business because customers will pay--some because they care about animal rights, some because they prefer organic foods, and others because they believe organic eggs just taste better. "Some of our customers in their 70s and 80s call us and tell us they haven't tasted an egg like ours in years," says Jesse LaFlamme, whose father is Gerry of Pete and Gerry's Farm, a family-run egg producer in New Hampshire.
While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) does not rate the taste of products, it does oversee all domestic egg production. Although eggs can now carry the USDA Organic label, the agency doesn't regulate any other claims made on egg packages. The organic label, as defined by the new official standards, means that neither the hens nor their feed can be subjected to antibiotics, hormones, pesticides or herbicides. As for other package descriptions, LaFlamme sums it up when he says, "`All-natural' is one of the biggest loopholes going. There are no guidelines around for that. It's in the hands of the consumer to sort it out."
The "Free-Range" Debate

When it comes to "cage-free" and "free-range" chickens, the debate gets pretty nuanced. At Organic Valley, a family of farms across the U.S., the hens are said to be free-range. According to a package insert, that means five feet of green space per bird outside and two feet inside, as well as natural sunlight inside the hen house. Egg Innovations, also a farmer's cooperative, produces several varieties of eggs, including cage-free. All of the company's eggs are "Free-Farmed," a label monitored by the American Humane Association. This label promises that the chickens are "free from any unnecessary fear and distress; free from unnecessary pain, injury and disease; free from hunger and thirst; and free from unnecessary discomfort." The company says its policy is to put animals first, over the dictates of profit.

Pete and Gerry's shies away from using the term free-range. "We think it's misleading to call them free-range," says LaFlamme. "We call them cage-free since it's not really realistic for them to be going outside in the winter in New Hampshire. They go outside when weather permits." A relatively rare label, "pasture-fed eggs," is applied to hens that are fed grains and also forage outside for wild plants and insects.

Omega-3 eggs contain that valuable nutrient due to its direct inclusion in chicken's feed. The source might be flax or linseed or direct supplement. The levels of omega-3's, which are also found in cold-water fish such as salmon, algae and dark-green vegetables, are self-regulated, so the assurances on packages aren't monitored. This polyunsaturated fat has been linked to increased mental function and immunity, reduced risk of heart disease, and more balanced metabolism, according to Dr. Andrew L. Stoll in his book The Omega-3 Connection.

NOTE On Omega-3 by Jeremiah: You see the term Pastured in this article, one of the few places that are conversant with this relatively new term. Pastured hens eat GREEN GRASS, this is the primary source of Omega-3. Green Grass is a dark-green vegetable!

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Eggs and Cholesterol

From an article by Dr. Joseph Mercola –

Eating cholesterol does not raise your cholesterol. Your liver makes over 95% of your cholesterol. You only store about ONE TEASPOON of sugar in your ENTIRE bloodstream. When you eat grains, sugar, soda and juice they are rapidly converted to sugar. This sugar is not needed in the blood stream so it is shifted to the liver where the liver converts it to saturated fat. The increase in cholesterol is almost always due to eating too many grains and sugar. It is NOT due to consuming eggs or fat. It is also very important to note that there is a HUGE difference between organic eggs and commercial eggs. They are worth every penny you pay for them. They are two different foods. If a chicken is fed grains that are sprayed with pesticides, what do you think will be in the eggs? Well their system is similar to ours and they will convert those grains to saturated fat and store all the pesticides with it and those are excreted into the egg yolk. A chicken that is range fed will lay entirely different eggs which have a completely different composition of fatty acids. These are two different foods.