Monday, April 4, 2011

The Incredible Egg

The egg – definitely edible

photo courtesy of
Today, my travels are taking me home from San Antonio. The weather was beautiful, grass was growing and you can’t beat the Riverwalk. As I sat in the middle seat, on the plane ride home, I found myself between a lady with a delicious smelling egg McMuffin and a beef nutritionist from NCBA. Food all around me. And to my delight a fresh off the press Southwest Airlines Spirit magazine in front of me. 

My first remark to my new beef friend, you think we can get a steak on the cover of the next issue? This month’s issue of Spirit discusses the egg, how to cook it, why it’s such an important part of our culture, nutritional information and how to start raising your own hens.

What did I learn?

Iowa is the number one egg producing state in the country. So now we know Iowa is full of chickens, corn and cattle.

Nutritionally some eggs are better than others.

The traditional brands of eggs (they used Market Pantry Grade A Large Eggs) that you buy in the grocery store are great for you. An awesome source of protein, low in calories and provide us with Vitamin A, and Calcium.

However, there are brands that provide even more nutritional value. Eggland’s Best Cage-Free Grade A Large Brown Eggs were used in comparison against the above brand. These eggs are lower in cholesterol have 11 more vitamins and minerals, including Folate, than the conventional raised eggs.


It’s not because they are brown or because they are cage free. The egg’s nutrition depends on what the hen is fed. But remember, because there is a difference in diet, and that free-range eggs come with more input costs, so you are also going to pay more for them.

But I disagreed with a little bit of what they had to say.

Click on photo to enlarge.
The articles were good. I love this graphic below that actually explains what all those words on the cartoon actually mean. Good job Southwest. The only bone I have to pick is with the “Backyard Bounty” article by Kathryn O’Shea-Evans. O’Shea-Evans talks about her first experience with home-raised eggs and how easy it is to start your own egg-laying flock in the backyard. Chickens are one of my biggest fears so I don’t think there will be a coop in my backyard anytime so, but good for any surbanite or town people that want to raise their own food. 

This what I have a problem with:

“Best of all, the flocks are more than food producing. They’re pets,” Kathryn O’Shea-Evans.

“I’d probably keep my chickens even if they stopped laying eggs,” says Katy Skinner the Yacolt, Washington-based creator of

“One customer became so attached to her birds that she paid $1,500 for a hysterectomy when her hen had an impacted egg,” Robert Litt, co-owns Portland’s Urban Farm Store, “The chicken cost four dollars!”

I hope that as more people take part in the “raise some chickens in your backyard” craze,  they keep things in perceptive. Chickens are livestock, not pets. Yes, you may have named them, but their purposed is to provide food. It worries me that when issues come up with conventional egg-laying farms, consumers will see those chickens as similar to their pet chickens in the backyard. It is wonderful if you can provide eggs for your family through locally grown methods, but not everyone has this option. Some people need or even want to go to the grocery store to buy their food. Thoughts?

To the Incredible Egg story click here


  1. I've always enjoyed reading Southwest Spirit. I'm guilty of falling in love with our lambs.

    There is one we are currently nursing back to health and I can't imagine not keeping her from loading the truck this September. I also think the more time I have under my belt at the ranch the better I will get at NOT getting attached. You got any tips? ;)

  2. As the wife to a rancher and myself a raiser of chickens for eggs, which I sale locally I get all the points and sides of this article. You are right though that those who are raising chickens as "pet" and not "producers" will have a hard time understanding that for most of us the chicken is still just a producer and not a pet, named or not.

  3. We have 24hens for eggs. I supply my Mother-in-law and myself with eggs. The extras I take to town and sell. There is no better egg than a farm fresh egg.

    When the hens get old we try to give them away. No one in our family wants to harvest the hens for meat. We have been lucky enough to find neighbors willing to take the hens.

    Our hens are chickens, not pets. They don't have names, but provide us with eggs. The hens eat left over small grain seed (oats or barley), commercial chicken layer feed, oyster shell, scraps from our kitchens and whatever they find scavenging the ranch yard.

  4. we have chickens and they are NOT pets. they lay eggs for us, then when they are 2-3 we either butcher them or take them to the local salebarn. we get new layer chicks every spring. and we do turkeys and meat chickens for ourselves and friends. i truely like to know where the food i feed our family comes from. that includes our beef and pork!

  5. It is great to hear that so many of you raising your own food. I great that farm fresh eggs are awesome, that goes along with pretty much anything that is grown on the farm. Thanks for all your comments.

  6. Don't forget pigs!

    I love airplane conversations - that's the best place to talk about ag!


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