A chicken’s life is hard. Sexed shortly after birth, most male chicks are killed. Hens are only slightly luckier, but that’s debatable. Crammed into battery cages in large farm sheds, with little room to roam, hens exist to lay the eggs we buy at the supermarket. These conditions are inhumane to say the least and slowly, they are being addressed. Consumers are starting to come around to cage-free or free-range and organic eggs. Hens are allowed more space to roam and they are fed a diet free of GMO inputs, with a higher concentration of vegetable matter, as they would naturally consume, as opposed to grains, which, as foragers, they would almost never eat.
Industrial eggs were an enticing proposition because of the market forces at play that led to industrialized farming. By keeping the chickens in close confines, feeding and collecting eggs becomes more efficient. When hens are part of a flock with a rooster, they produce fertilized eggs, eggs that, if the hen were allowed to brood on them, would hatch into chicks. When you crack open a semi-developed, fertilized egg, you’ll get anywhere from a red-tinged yolk to a developing embryo, a disquieting surprise for consumers who are unfamiliar with the idea that a chicken egg is a hen’s reproductive ovum. Industrial eggs, which are white, uniform and sterile, were analogous with pure white bleached-flour industrial bread, or flash-pasteurized milk. Clean and safe. This is not a unique development in our society. Many modern solutions to practical concerns have produced unforeseen problems of their own. Eggs are a microcosm of this.
Organic farm eggs, then, are a welcome solution. Diverse in size and color, farm eggs are often produced by heritage breeds that were passed over by large-scale chicken farmers. Some breeds lay brown eggs. Other breeds, like Auracanas, lay blue eggs. They possess more complex flavor profiles and are often more nutritious than factory-produced eggs. Organic farmers do not feed their chickens GMO’s and do not administer antibiotics. They often augment their flock’s diet with kitchen scraps (which chickens love).
Try them. Find a farmer’s market in your town or drive out to the country, to a farm stand and ask around. Organic eggs are delicious and marginally more expensive than factory eggs. By purchasing them, you’re contributing to more humane conditions on farms. And they taste great.