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Another Reason to Buy Local Food?

Published on
26 August 2010

As if we needed another reason to purchase our food from local sources, along comes the Great American Egg Recall of 2010!

Billions of eggs potentially tainted with Salmonella bacteria, and thousands of people sick as a result.

The photos of the factory egg “farms” are too awful for me to include here — chickens packed in cages, stacked on top of one another in conditions that should be criminal. And why? Because Americans want cheap eggs. Lots of cheap eggs. At the rate of 150 (or more) eggs per person, per year, that adds up to nearly 50 billions eggs a year – and that’s just the ones folks buy in cartons — add in all the eggs that are used as an ingredient in the foods we buy, and we are looking at closer to 75 billion eggs consumed each year in the US!

At a price of about $1.00 per dozen, we are talking about at least $4 billion in egg sales each year.

There is an alternative, you know. Yep, more folks could buy their eggs from local farmers.

My husband and I pay $2.50 a dozen for eggs from a family near Harvard, IL. The eggs are fresh, delicious, and safe. The chickens that lay the eggs seem to live happy lives — at least they appear content running around in the farmyard when I go there to pick up the eggs. And a bonus is that the yolks are a gorgeous shade of deep yellow, not the insipid pale yellow of factory eggs.

The family raises the chickens to sell them as, well, chickens, later after they are good and fat. But the chickens have this pesky habit of laying eggs until they are sent off to be butchered, so the family also collects and sells the eggs.

Fresh eggs have an advantage that factory eggs lack — they haven’t been washed, so they still have the “bloom” intact on the surface of the egg shell. This “bloom” protects the otherwise porous surface of the egg, preventing bacteria from entering the egg.

As a result, fresh eggs can be stored at room temperature, and in Europe, that is how they are sold and kept.

Factory eggs in the US are washed after being collected to remove any surface dirt and bacteria — which is actually part of the reason for the Great Egg Recall of 2010 — even trace amounts of bacteria can enter the washed eggs, and once inside, salmonella does not take much time to multiply into enough bacteria cells to make someone sick.

So, remember that next time you buy eggs at the grocery store. Ask around, I bet you can find a local farm that sells fresh eggs — and I bet you’ll agree that they are worth every penny!