When Adam first started suggesting we get chickens for our backyard, I thought he was crazy.
We are terrible pet owners. I mean: we just aren’t animal people. I always tell people that we generally coexist with our pets. They’re fed and cared for; petted once in a while and given appropriate care of course. But you’re not going to find us at the dog beach any given Sunday.
Adding a flock of chickens to the backyard sounded like a project that might be fun for a week, until the reality of feeding and caring for these animals hit home.
Then I started reading. I read and read and read, as I do. I tend to obsess over even the smallest of life decisions, like which brand of Chia seeds I should order or should I even order Chia seeds? And am I eating enough Omega 3s anyway? It’s what I do.
We are spending $3.79 each week on the best organic, free-range and cage-free eggs available at Publix. But what does that mean?
- There is no legal definition of “cage-free,” and a cage-free hen is not necessarily a free hen running about a pasture. Often, cage-free hens are running around crowded barns, with little or no access to the outdoors.
- Chickens are considered “free-range” if they have government certified access to the outdoors. The door may be open for only five minutes and the farm still qualifies as “free-range.” Apart from the “open door,” no other criteria such as environmental quality, number of birds, or space per bird, are included in the term “free-range.”
I could go on and on about why cage-free eggs have more stress-related hormones in their eggs than eggs from battery hens, because the flock is too big for the chickens to establish a pecking order. Or how free-range chickens’ beaks are cut off so they don’t peck their neighbors to death while they live their miserable lives in their one-square foot of “range.”
And keep in mind: we’re not animal people – but I knew we could do better.
More importantly, we could raise happier chickens and harvest healthier eggs.
No really. The eggs from truly pastured hens (chickens with access to fresh grass, fresh air and room to roam) are actually considerably healthier than the USDA-tested eggs you buy at the store.
How much healthier?
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 4 to 6 times as much vitamin D
Eggs are already a family favorite – and they can get even better for us? It’s exciting to learn that the things you think should be better for you are actually better for you. You can even buy special food that boosts the Omega-3 content drastically, but it’s not organic.
Most importantly, though, is that my kids learn where their food comes from; how to treat and respect their food sources and how to care for other living creatures. We can show them that kindness does exist in food production, and how to make it so in their own little backyard.
Doesn’t it feel good to feel good about what you’re eating?