Eggs

The Chicken & The Egg: organic, worth the fuss?

What came first, the chicken or the egg? It’s one of those questions with no answer. What we know is that both are indispensable in a healthy kitchen. Does it matter whether they are bio, homegrown or not?

Health Credentials

The humble egg has impressive health credentials. Both the white and yolk of an egg are rich in nutrients, including proteins, vitamins and minerals. The yolk also contains cholesterol, fat-soluble vitamins (such as vitamins D and E) and essential fatty acids. Eggs are also an important and versatile ingredient for cooking, as their particular chemical make-up is literally the glue of many important baking reactions.

Eggs are a very good source of inexpensive, high-quality protein. More than half the protein of an egg is found in the egg white, which also includes vitamin B2 and lower amounts of fat than the yolk. Eggs are rich sources of selenium, vitamin D, B6, B12 and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. Egg yolks contain more calories and fat than the whites. They are a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and lecithin, the compound that enables emulsification in recipes such as hollandaise or mayonnaise.

Some brands of egg now contain omega-3 fatty acids, depending on what the chickens have been fed (always check the box). Eggs are regarded as a ‘complete’ source of protein as they contain all nine essential amino acids, the ones we cannot synthesize in our bodies and must obtain from our diet. I have to admit that my body demands for eggs, especially when I am running low on amino acids.

Versatile

One of the reasons I cannot be a 100% vegan, – though I am fully convinced of the health benefits of a vegan diet, – is I love eggs. And my mind and body need them. Is there anything one cannot do with eggs?

There are few foods, if any, as versatile as eggs. They can be boiled, fried, be part of a pancake, waffle, omelet, fluffy foam, custards, mayonnaise, cakes, meringues, used in baking etc. The possibilities seem endless.

They can thicken, bind, leaven, glaze or garnish. It’s a little gluten-free seed, packed with protein, riboflavin and selenium. It’s a ubiquitous emulsifier and leavener.”

Now what kind of egg do we choose best? organic, homegrown or not?

eggs

Organic

The EU

When you buy eggs in a European supermarket, you’ll find a code stamped on each egg which tells you the country and farm it comes from, as well as whether it comes from organically farmed, free-range or caged hens.

The European Union has strict rules for how much space chickens require for each type of farming. The word “organic” promises consumers that they’re getting eggs from the happiest chickens of all. Standards are defined by the EU and qualified eggs carry the special EU seal of organic quality.

These eggs should come from chickens which are able to feed themselves with organic feed, and have enough space to run around in. They get four square meters each out of doors, and a sixth of a square meter in their sheds. In comparison, a free-range hen only get a ninth of a square meter in its shed.

So 2 conditions:

  • organically fed chicken
  • enough space to run around

Of course there is no difference between an organic egg and a conventional egg in terms of shape and color; and little difference in their amino acid and vitamin content. But there is a real difference in the feeding and breeding of organic laying hens, and the way they are kept and cared for.

Organic according to the USA

Hens that lay organic eggs may live in a caging system but are usually cage-free. They eat organic feed and do not receive hormones, vaccines, or antibiotics. The land the hens live on must produce the feed and must be free from the use of toxic and persistent chemical pesticides and fertilizers for at least three years.

Nutritional Value

Macronutrients

When it comes to macro nutrients, there is little difference between organic eggs and conventional eggs. Organic eggs contain similar amounts of protein, carbohydrates, and some fats as conventional eggs do. There is no evidence to show that organic eggs have less cholesterol than conventional eggs. An Italian study revealed that the chances of all eggs (both organic and conventional) being contaminated with Salmonella were minuscule but still possible.

Micronutrients

Recent research finds organic eggs to have more micro nutrients than conventional eggs. Findings from Penn State University suggest that organic chicken eggs have three times more omega-3 fatty acids than their caged counterparts. The eggs also contained 40% more vitamin A and twice as much vitamin E.

Organic eggs are also arsenic free.

Must read

Frying eggs is simple. But the road to sophistication is long. Check out the following reads if you’re into eggs like I am.

Egg ....

 

For culinary visionary Michael Ruhlman, the question is not whether the chicken or the egg came first, it’s how anything could be accomplished in the kitchen without the magic of the common egg. He starts with perfect poached and scrambled eggs and builds up to brioche and Italian meringue. Along the way readers learn to make their own mayonnaise, pasta, custards, quiches, cakes, and other preparations that rely fundamentally on the hidden powers of the egg.

Kids are fascinated with eggs. As a child I hated tem soft boiled. Now that I am an adult, I love them. Nothing better than a soft boiled egg, a buttered toast and a strong cup of coffee for breakfast.

An egg book for kids :

The Good Egg

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