February 28, 2012 § 2 Comments
It’s time to end my sabbatical and get back to writing about life on our Hawaii farm. The past month or so, I have been pondering the next topic. I suppose I was waiting for THE IDEA. One that was spectacular and earth shaking. I didn’t have one of those. What I did have was a bowl full of beautiful eggs from our chickens and I decided the simple egg was worthy of discussion.
For you city-folks, you might be surprised to learn that those beautiful, deep yolk, farm-fresh eggs do not magically appear. You need more than just chickens. You also need those sweet, fluffy puff balls to be at least 5 months old, in good health, enough quality food and water, a clean place to lay, and sufficient daylight. An egg’s quality reflects the care and management the hen receives and getting good eggs requires some work – and not just on the part of the chicken. But once you have the right “ingredients,” getting delicious eggs from a small, healthy, laying flock can happen. I’m actually surprised that more people don’t keep a hen or two.
Every time I gather an egg from my laundry basket (yes, my laundry basket… you see my chickens are a bit too free-range) I think about what this hen has created: An incredible combination of water, protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals in such a neat – beautiful green – calcium-rich package. This egg is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It can create savory meals or sweet treats. And she doesn’t need a rooster to produce this egg – or any of the 4,000 or so eggs she has in her body. No, all she really needs is to be happy and she will give the gift of “real food” every other day or so.
So the next time you find yourself at your local farmer’s market, wondering if the extra dollar or two is worth spending on that dozen of fresh, organic eggs, take it from this farmer, it is. The eggs are fresher which gives them better texture. They haven’t been washed in a chemical bath which gives supermarket eggs an unpleasant aftertaste (do a comparison and you’ll see what I mean). They are lower in cholesterol. And I always ask if the hens are truly free-range. Do some research on the commercial egg business and you’ll decide if you want to endorse the chicken industry. If the hens are given a varied and organic diet, the eggs will have a more complex and richer flavor. Plus, less stress and a better environment means that happy hens do lay tastier eggs.
The message for today: Know your food – talk with your farmer – buy locally – and yes, real food, including real eggs, costs money. Is it worth it? After finishing my fresh herb omelet this morning, I realized that the time and effort spent on our hens is worth every mouthful.