As I was headed out the door to Wednesday’s Farmers’ Market Nate reminded me he wanted eggs. “But only if they’re from pasture raised chickens… ONLY if the chickens have been running around OUTSIDE!” he called after me. He wants eggs from chickens that have a natural diet of grass and bugs (instead of GMO corn.)
When I first started baking commercially I bought the least expensive organic eggs in bulk furthest from their “sell by” date. Organic and gluten-free ingredients are expensive: I wanted to be able to get cookies to consumers at a reasonable price.
In the last month, I’ve toe-dragged from paying $3.00/dozen for organic eggs to $6-7/dozen for “pasture chicken” eggs at Whole Foods. I appreciate even more friends who bring a dozen of their wild chickens’ eggs as a hostess gift, and am determined to pursue offers of $ 3/doz. eggs from folks who keep chickens as a hobby! Run-around hens lead a mostly natural life, the egg shells are beautifully colored and crack like porcelain, and the eggs are delicious. Best, farmers are rewarded for practices that humanely treat animals and support a healthy environment.
Whole Foods has adopted a grading system for their meat and egg departments, one that has helped me be a better consumer. At the Hingham Farmers’ Market on Saturday the egg vendors were sold out of “pasture raised” before noon, but there were still a few butchered chickens left. We roasted one; it was tender, and delicious; a reminder that such a delicacy can be a smaller portion on the plate. In purchasing it we supported time honored farming traditions that are better for all of us: “be the change you want to see in the world.“