Monday, April 09, 2012

Locavore-ive Breath

Elsewhere on the intertubes, I find myself explaining the seeming dichotomy of me being willing to hoof over to Locally Grown Gardens on foot to get eggs from the local hippie commune, and yet still make fun of the patrons of the organic whole breakfast food shelf at the supermarket:
I pay double grocery store cost for local free-range eggs from Locally Grown Gardens, not because they're local or because I care about what the chickens were fed or whether giving them aromatherapy every day reduced their carbon footprint, but because a chicken that runs loose and eats bugs lays eggs with thick shells, orange yolks and a white with more flavor than tapwater.

On the other hand, "the rich flavor of natural whole grains" in 90% of Nature's Whole Organic Goodness Breakfast Gruel reminds me of why baked goods always involve salt and/or sugar, and we don't just crop the stuff off the stems in the field with our mouths like ruminants.
The fact that most of those eggs are usually only a couple days out of the chicken is just a bonus.

33 comments:

mikee said...

Plus, you stand a chance of getting a double yolked egg at the local co-op, which will never happen in a grocery store.

The very first time my son tried to cook an egg, he cracked a double yolked one from a dozen eggs given us by a neighbor from a local organic farm. That kind of omen has to mean something, right?

Bubblehead Les. said...

Unfortunately, way too many Villages/Towns/Cities have these stupid Zoning Regs against keeping Chickens in the Backyard. Yet I can't touch a damn Goose that craps all over the place and decides to commit Suicide on my Front Grill when I drive around the Bend. But since they are "Protected" and aren't allowed to be Hunted, all I get is an increase in Coyotes and Feral Dogs. You'd think that with an increasing Planetary Population and a Declining Economy, the "Powers that Be" would allow some of the Poor People to supplement their Food Supply, but NOOO!

Robb Allen said...

Even my wife, the lady who considers a vacation in the wild to mean "near a mall I've never visited", has wished we could have chickens in our back yard, if for no other reason than the eggs.

Those brown shelled, poop covered eggs are the best tasting thing ever to come out a chicken's butt. They don't require refrigeration, they can sit for weeks on end, and they have all kinds of benefits.

Plus, if you raise 'em yourself, the day you walk out and see Old Feathers has stopped layin' 'em down and smackem yackeming, you can cut its head off and eat it.

og said...

You will find that you have a much more flavorful egg, as well, if you can use them warm, and never let them hit the fridge. There is only a minuscule danger of salmonella, and cooked properly that goes away. Plus, the only proper way to make an omelette is with a room temperature egg, as any fan of Alton Brown will tell you.

Blackwing1 said...

...and I thank you for the Jethro Tull reference.

Anonymous said...

My barn cat likes free range chickens when they show up on our place.

The neighbor just lets a few more hatch out for replacements.

Gerry

Woodman said...

I've been jonesing for couple birds myself.

We might be able to get away with it for a while, but the covenant enforcers would get us eventually.

And, as much as I hate the covenants, they also keep Goober from putting 50 chickens in his back yard next to his pallet built shed and 5,000 watt stereo. Which keeps me from using his backyard as my firing range.

You can't legislate common sense. With our lot sizes in my neighborhood anything more than three or four birds would get pretty bad pretty quick.

Anonymous said...

@ Robb " ... the best tasting thing ever to come out a chicken's butt"

Hmmmm ... other items for comparison have passed your lips? ;^P

Anonymous said...

Don't really know about taste. I'm no connoisseur but just saw a show that says the nutritional value is no different from those half-a-million-chickens-in one-room eggs to those from bugs-and-dirt-fed chickens. I've had brown eggs, don't remember thinking WOW great taste. I'm in a rural area and I know people who've thought it would be great to have a few chickens on their acreage. It only lasts a few months, a whole lot of work and expense.

Tam said...

Anon 11:26,

"I'm no connoisseur but just saw a show that says the nutritional value is no different..."

You'll note I made no claims about nutritional value one way or another.

I found them more flavorful. If you don't, you sure shouldn't waste your money.

LauraB said...

A friend's son raises chickens and sells us the eggs. His father experimented with unrefrigerated storage - 21 days, he said, before they were "off".

And they are so superior in every way...just try to go back to cheap eggs and you will be educated in short order.

og said...

"I'm no connoisseur but just saw a show that says the nutritional value is no different..."

Likewise, the nutritional value of canned tuna and tuna flavored cat food are similar, with the cat food often having a slight advantage. Humans tend to eat for flavor and texture, less so for nutrition.

Woodman said...

As far as price goes, if I'm down at my in-laws I can get them for $1.25 a dozen.

If I have to get them nearer to home, it's $2.50 a dozen at most.

While I can get super generic eggs at Meijer for $.88 on Easter Eve most of the time I see regular Large Grade A eggs for around $1.25-$2.00.

I've also done quite a bit of looking into and talking to my late father-in-law about his eggs. If you have space the expenses can be minimal. Having fresh eggs for yourself only would be worth the cost of a basic coop, and if you have kids the egg money can add up for them while giving them a chance to run a business a bit more viable than a lemonade stand.

You can be up and running with a Eglu for under $700 if you aren't handy with tools. That's four hens in a prefab coop with a fox proof run and 50 lbs of feed. I've seen quite a few coops built from all kinds of materials but for suburban purposes the Eglu Go seems to be the best bet to me. So yeah, it's going to cost more to begin with. But once you amortize the price of the coop I think it's cheaper than buying eggs. Plus you keep bugs down on your property.

og said...

You can build a chicken tractor for thirty bucks. Chicken tractor is the way to go, too, for small subsistence chickening.

Mikael said...

Nutrition wise, free range chickens that have the opportunity to feed on insects have a better omega-3 to omega-6 fat ratio.

In general modern diet has too much omega-6, and too little omega-3. Over consumption of omega-6 is related to various health hazards.

Ferret said...

I can't help but wonder if some people buy the brown eggs based on the same logic as bread.

Brown bread is whole-wheat and is better for you.

Brown eggs are whole-wheat and are better for you.

Of course, it doesn't explain the eggs with a slightly greenish hue, but I'm told that they taste good with ham.

The Jack said...

Yeah, the difference between paying more for hair shirt penance and paying more for something you think has better flavor is pretty self explanatory.

It's like why I go for the Fentman's or Doc Brown's sodas or the better quality meat. At the rate of consumption, I feel the better flavor is worth the cost.

DirtCrashr said...

Our friend the Mad Goat Lady has a bunch of those run-around chickens and gives us the eggs: brown ones, blue ones, green ones, spotted ones - the shells are hard and practically re-loadable.

Firehand said...

I wonder how many of the "I must have eggs from FREE-RANGE CHICKENS ONLY!!!" people realize what all chickens eat when free to run around?

I've known people who kept a few chickens primarily for insect control, and the eggs were just a bonus; a flock can get rid of ticks, grasshoppers, mice and all kinds of pests. And fertilize the grass while doing so.

Joseph said...

Would it make sense to cut out the middle-organism and eat the bugs directly?

On the other hand, maybe we should see what results if we feed the chickens garlic and paprika...

Mikael said...

You know what the spots on some chicken eggs actually are? Blood. Where the rooster has been so rough during sex that it caused vaginal injuries.

The Jack said...

Firehand: Yeah chickens are great at bug removal. About they only thing they won't eat are slugs. But ducks will do that.

Though you'll have to watch your chickens if you let them into your garden, because they will eat your crops.

Mikael: Yeah, chickens are agressive, stupid, and filthy animals. But easy to raise.

Matt G said...

My wife is a little grossed out that I happen to find tht an egg still warm from the chicken makes for a better omelette or huevos over-easy.

Old NFO said...

I grew up on those 'free-range' eggs, and yes they DO taste better! And they sure as hell are fresher than what you get in a grocery (those are average 10 days old when they hit the store)...

Buzz said...

I live in a rural area, with no covenants to stop my neighbors from unleashing an AK for fun at 9 PM or me from having chickens.
I used to supplement their diet with flax meal for increased omega content, butlost my cheap source.
Darker, firmer yolks and shells of various colors.
Yup, there are a couple of "favorite" hens of the roosters that don't have to push out eggs. I'm sure they fall out of the heavily abused vents.
Bugs, mice, and small snakes are doomed.
An owl and a Cooper's hawk have hauled off bantams.
A skunk and a raccoon killed chickens defending eggs. (subsonic .22 LRs between the eyes quickly dispense such vermin)

Chris said...

To bad you arent my neighbor or live closer. We give 2 dozen eggs away a week from our 1/2 dozen chickens. Bard rocks,extra large brown eggs,double yolks and all. I even bring them to the neighbors front door meself. :-)

CIII

SGB said...

Fresh eggs are so good. Well worth the commute on foot.

Critter said...

my sister raises chickens and i'm friends with the Friendly Armenian Chicken Farmer near my place of work, so i;m never out of farm eggs. :)

trivia for the day: the color of the hen's ear is the color the eggs will be.

On a Wing and a Whim said...

Wait, chickens eat ticks?

...Now, I hate chickens, because familiarity has bred contempt and scars, but eating ticks would do a lot to make me consider adding them to the rabbits.

Hmm.

Goober said...

Woodman - Don't diss my shed. Seriously, I put, like, $30 bucks and a half a day's (drunken) work into that thing.

Ken said...

Best eggs I ever had were the half-dozen duck eggs we got from friends of ours.

Firehand said...

Wing, they do; and just about anything else they can catch. Guy I used to work with had a small flock, and one hen was murder on mice: she'd grab it swat it on the ground once right and once left and then swallow them.

Jack, there was a line in a Drake book about 'as far as she was concerned the only good thing about chickens was the way they tasted fried'.

Scott Gelber said...

My wife and I raise chickens for the eggs. Free-range feeding, at least where we are, is not enough for the birds. We supplement with Purina Layena pellets ($16.50 for 50 pounds), calcium (stronger shells), and a few other things, especially in the winter.

You also need to watch the birds carefully as one sick one can infect the others. One learns to be good at giving a bird a shot. Predators are also an issue, even owls.

The eggs are very good, but it is not cost-effective to raise birds just for yourself. No doubt I can buy "organic eggs" cheaper than it costs us to feed/support/maintain/restrain the birds.