I tasted my first-ever truly free range egg yesterday. Sure, I buy free-range eggs from the store, but this was no comparison. The shell was a dark gray, and the yolk was dark yellow, nearly orange. It was laid just that morning, and the taste was much richer than any egg I’ve ever tried.
I stumbled upon this egg practically in my own backyard (or at least the JCC’s backyard)–where there’s a chicken coop with a dozen or so birds. I learned from my friend, who helps take care of the coop, that the most these chickens lay in a day is 8 eggs. That means that 12 happy chickens with enough food and ample space won’t even lay one egg per day.
So how do we purchase a dozen eggs for under $2 at the store? Factory farming. Driven by profit, farmers removed the animals from the farms and shoved them (literally) into feedlots. You’ll have to read a Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma to get the gory details, but suffice it to say that you don’t have to be member of PETA to be willing to pay more for free range eggs. As the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.
But even free range eggs, sold at any grocery, Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods, aren’t as “free range” as the chickens wandering in their large cage behind the “J.” Still, I’ll take what I can get.