Palisade peaches, Rocky Ford melons and Olathe sweet corn are just a few of the locally produced fruits and vegetables that have been tickling our taste buds this season. The Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association, a membership organization representing seven family farms, would like to remind you that in addition to seasonal fruits and vegetables, there are main food staples – including eggs – which you can buy locally and enjoy all year round.
“Thinking about where your food comes and buying locally is certainly top of mind for everyone today, especially given the recent news regarding egg recalls,” explained Jerry Wilkins, president of CEP. “It is very important that consumers know that NO eggs produced in Colorado are part of this egg recall. On behalf of our local egg farmers, CEP is here to assure you that Colorado produced eggs are safe. As local farmers, we are part of the Colorado community and our focus is the safety and health of all Coloradans. All CEP producers have comprehensive, multi-faceted quality assurance and food safety programs in place and follow FDA guidelines for food safety. We encourage you to continue to support your Colorado egg farmers and buy local.”
August has been proclaimed Colorado Proud month by Governor Bill Ritter, Jr. According to Wendy White with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and Colorado Proud, finding local products is easy with Colorado Proud. Colorado Proud is a program of the Colorado Department of Agriculture developed to identify food and agricultural products that are grown, raised or processed in the state. Nearly every CEP member is a proud participant in the Colorado Proud program.
“It is the perfect time to celebrate the bounty of Colorado agriculture available at grocery stores, farmers’ markets and restaurants across the state. Colorado eggs are a perfect example,” said White. “When you purchase Colorado food and agricultural products, such as eggs, you are not only getting high quality fresh products, you are also supporting Colorado's farmers, ranchers, processors and the state economy.”
CEP is committed to doing what’s right for the Colorado community, as illustrated by their regular donation of thousands of eggs to food banks throughout the state. Egg farmers throughout Colorado have an unwavering mission to provide high-quality eggs to Coloradans.
You can also support CEP, Colorado Commodities, Colorado Proud produce and other local farmers at the upcoming Colorado State Fair, August 27th through September 6th in Pueblo. Stop by the CEP booth in the Agriculture Pavilion to see the CEP display and learn how eggs are processed, see how chickens live and see hens in an actual hen house. Information will also be available to help answer any questions you may have about egg safety and proper egg handling and cooking. The Colorado State Fair is a 140 year-old tradition. More than 480,000 people will walk through the historic gates of the fairgrounds in Pueblo to celebrate youth and agriculture. Don’t miss the fun.
Below is a list of tips from Colorado Local Sustainability and Colorado Proud on how to buy and support local food and farmers in your area.
• Tell your friends. Spreading the word about locally grown food is easy and simple. Invite your neighbors and friends over for a home cooked meal devised from all locally grown food.
• Shop Colorado Proud. Ask your local grocer if they supply local food, which can be identified by the Colorado Proud logo at grocery stories, farmers’ markets, garden centers and restaurants. Buying local doesn’t have to be difficult but it does require some planning. If they don’t buy local, ask them why and keep asking why. It will make the buyer think about buying locally.
• Research local farms and restaurants. There are a variety of websites that list local farms and restaurants that use only local food. Check out Colorado Market Maker at www.comarketmaker.com for good local food near you.
Another great resource is the Colorado Proud website – www.coloradoproud.org. The site is a great way to find recipes, a crop calendar, agritourism activities, wineries, farmers' markets and restaurants that use Colorado products in their menus.
Choices, choices, choices. Buying local does not mean your choices are limited. For example, CEP members are proud to offer consumers the choice between cage, cage-free eggs, organic, nutrient enhanced and brown or white eggs.
For more facts and information about eggs and CEP, please visit www.coloradoeggproducers.com.
Egg recall facts:
“As a part of the Colorado family, we feel it is our duty to be sure you have the facts about the recent national voluntary egg recalls,” said Wilkins. “Shell egg recalls were issued by two Iowa egg producers – Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms – in response to a salmonella outbreak which unfortunately has affected some people in Colorado and several other states. No eggs produced in Colorado are part of this egg recall. Although the number of eggs affected by these recalls sounds large, it is actually less than one percent of the total number of eggs produced in the United States.”
Furthermore, According to the American Egg Board, statistically only one out of every 20,000 commercially produced eggs might contain the Salmonella bacteria. This means an average consumer might encounter an infected egg once every 84 years.
Below are important facts and egg safety tips from the American Egg Board.
• Egg farmers nation wide and in Colorado are continuing to work closely with FDA and USDA to help ensure the safety and quality of eggs.
• All of the potentially affected eggs, which make up less than one percent of all U.S. eggs, have been removed from store shelves.
• You may be wondering if eggs are still safe to eat. Completely cooked eggs are completely safe eggs, according to the Center for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration.
• Eggs should be cooked until the whites and yolks are firm or, for dishes containing eggs, until an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit is reached.
• In addition to thorough cooking, other safe food-handling practices include the following simple steps:
o Thoroughly clean your hands, as well as the surfaces and utensils that come into contact with raw eggs – an important step for avoiding cross-contamination.
o Separate eggs from other foods in your grocery cart, grocery bags and in the refrigerator to prevent cross-contamination.
o Keep eggs in the main section of the refrigerator at a temperature between 33 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and eggs accidentally left at room temperature should be discarded after two hours or one hour in warm weather.
• When cooked properly, eggs are always a safe, wholesome and convenient food for you and your family to enjoy. Eggs are all-natural and packed with a number of nutrients. One egg has 13 essential vitamins and minerals in varying amounts, high-quality protein, and antioxidants, all for 70 calories.
• For more information on this recall and the safe handling of eggs, please visit www.eggsafety.org.