Have you ever read the labels on a carton of eggs and wondered exactly what those labels and terms mean?  Terms such as “Cage-free,” “Free-range,” or “Organic,” to name a few.  The more I have learned about eggs and the American food system as a whole, the more disgusted I become.  Some labels are downright funny (albeit very WRONG and misleading) if you read the fine print.  For example, these days, it easy to walk through your local grocer, and find mega-farm production chicken packages with the label “No Hormones!”  Sounds good, right?  The funny thing is, it is illegal for ANY chicken producer to use ANY kind of hormone in their chickens!  So that package is absolutely no different than the unlabeled one sitting next to it! 

I was thrilled to see an article on CNN today that explains the legalities behind those egg terms.  Check it out for details:   http://eatocracy.cnn.com/2010/08/20/egg-splained-free-range-cage-free-and-organic/

With the recent multi-million egg recall from 2 mega-producers, and the massive beef recall a few weeks ago, I have learned a whole new appreciation for knowing EXACTLY where my food comes from….be it my own garden, the rancher who raises my beef, the dairyman who milks “my” cowherd, or the local farmer who grows my crops and collects my eggs.  I can personally talk to the person who grows the food, I can visit the farm and see the animals, I know that the farmer/rancher’s family is eating that food as well, and I know that it is still produced on a small enough scale that quality and safety is still a big concern.  Does this mean my food is always free of every potentially harmful organism?  No, of course not.  Any food worth eating could potentially harbor something else that wants to share the wonderful nutrition.  But the risk is significantly less than food that has been passed down an assembly line, conveyer belt, through a dozen or more hands, washed in a tank of chemicals or bacteria-contaminated water bath, and has never been directly handled by the person who technically “owns” it.  It is wonderful to know that, in the midst of such recalls, I don’t have to worry about consuming my clean, healthy, unpasteurized raw milk, my locally-grown-until-ripe and minimally handled fresh produce, my locally raised, grass fed dexter cow, my free-ranging, bug-and-forage-eating chicken (or its eggs), etc. 

Many people argue that eating that way is “too expensive.”  Fact is, yeah, it costs a little more.  There are many ways (such as co-ops) to reduce the price, but for the peace of mind provided, I have to say it is worth every extra cent to know that my family is healthy and as safe as possible!