Take a moment and think about all the eggs that we must need as a nation every single day of the week. About a bazillion, right ?
I bet you were thinking about all those delicious breakfast burrito's, scrambled eggs, poached, over easy, hard boiled, the list goes on and on. As someone who has spent some time on the line in hotels and restaurants I'm thinking what you're thinking, and then adding Eggs for Egg wash, batters, cakes, cookies, bread, ice cream, mayo, crabcakes, that list also goes on and on.
Now add vaccinations. The number of Eggs required to produce our nations supply of vaccinations each year is staggering. That number alone lies in the area of about 600 million eggs needed per year. So if you take the 600 million per year and add all those breakfast eggs, cake and cookie eggs and throw in a few for the kids to throw at houses on Halloween, you have a pretty large number. Somewhere in the ballpark of a bazillion.
In order to produce all of these eggs some manipulation of nature must be done. Let me explain, in case you wanted to get in on a little share of the market. First off you can't let the Hen run around the way it was intended. That would be a horrible waste of space. You have to keep the Hen in a space about the size of a sheet of paper. You had better burn the beak off too, so that they don't peck at themselves or the other Hens because when they are confined to a space like this they tend to get a little distressed. Next feed them steady doses of antibiotics so they don't get sick and fortified feed (currently a little hard to come by because the FDA just pulled it due to high levels of arsenic) and now you have a well oiled Egg laying machine.
Does all of this mean that by buying "Cage Free", "Free Range" or "Vegetarian Diet" is the answer to breaking away from a conventionally produced Egg ? Well.. not necessarily so.
As mentioned in a previous blog, the term Free Range only applies to Poultry and not Eggs. Free Range is not a regulated term when it applies to Eggs, and really all that is needed is a door or passageway to the outside. Weather they use it or not is up to them. Cage Free is defined as letting the chickens roam around in the barn not confined to cages. While both of these are in my opinion much, much better in a humane sense than conventional there is still one more classification out there that you should know about and that's "Pastured" Eggs. Pastured eggs means that the chicken had access to the grass, the sun, bugs and was possibly fed grains and some other feed.
Pastured Eggs are also in fact more nutritious than conventional eggs. Among the benefits of Pastured eggs are 1/4 less saturated fat, 1/3 less cholesterol, 3 times more vitamin E, 7 times more beta-carotene, 2/3 more vitamin A, and 4-6 times as much vitamin D. All of this information has to be taken into context, it's not that Pastured eggs are filled with all kinds of things that give them more nutrition than a conventional egg, it's that conventional eggs are less nutritious.
Maybe someday we'll see a renaissance of the old Total Cereal campaign applied to the Pastured Egg industry and the announcer will say instead; " You need to eat this many conventional Eggs to equal one pastured Egg"