These days many people strive to eat healthier and learn the facts about the food they put in their bodies. Everyone wants to lead a happy and healthy life, but with so many options available it can be hard to know where to start. Eggs are one of the best protein sources to fuel your body and they come in many different varieties including cage free , organic and nutrient enhanced, just to name a few. The Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association would like to take this opportunity to explain the egg production terminology and help Coloradans understand the basics of the eggs, including their nutritional value.
“It’s important for people to feel confident in what they eat, where it comes from and how it’s produced,” said Derek Yancey, a Colorado Egg farmer and member of CEP. “Egg farmers use a variety of production methods, yet there are more similarities than differences in the eggs they provide. For example, cage-free eggs and conventionally produced eggs have the same nutritional value. We continuously strive to help people understand egg production so they know all the facts about the wholesome and safe eggs they consume at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.”
The Egg Nutrition Center (www.eggnutritioncenter.org) offers a guide for consumers that explains how eggs are labeled. Here’s a look at some of the most prevalent terms:
• Antibiotic-free: This term can be misleading as all eggs produced in the U.S., even if not specified on the egg carton, are antibiotic-free.
• Brown eggs: Eggs that are laid by red-brown feathered breeds of hens. The nutrient content of brown eggs is the same as white eggs. Nutrient content has nothing to do with shell color. It is the hen’s diet that affects the nutritional make up of the egg she produces.
• Cage-free/free-roaming: Eggs laid by hens at indoor floor operations, sometimes called free roaming. The hens may roam in a building, room or open area, usually in a barn or poultry house, and have unlimited access to fresh food and water, while some may also forage for food if they are allowed outdoors. Cage-free systems vary and include barn-raised and free-range hens, both of which have shelter that helps protect against predators and bad weather. Both types are produced under common handling and care practices, which provide floor space, nest space and perches. Depending on the farm, these housing systems may or may not have an automated egg collection system.
• Free-range eggs: Eggs produced by hens that have access to the outdoors in accordance with weather, environment or state laws. The birds have continuous access to fresh food and water and may forage for wild plants and insects. They are also provided floor space, nesting space, and perches.
• Natural: USDA identifies all shell eggs as natural.
• Nutrient-enhanced eggs: Eggs that are produced by hens fed a special diet that may include things like flax seed, marine algae or fish oils.
• Organic eggs: Eggs that are laid by cage-free, free-roaming hens raised on certified organic feed with access to the outdoors. The hens’ feed is grown without most synthetic pesticides, fungicides, herbicides or fertilizers, and 100 percent of the agricultural ingredients must be certified organic. Antibiotics and growth hormones are prohibited (although these will not be found in any shell eggs).
• Pasteurized eggs: Eggs heated to temperatures just below the coagulation point to destroy pathogens. These eggs are recommended for recipes that call for raw eggs or for people susceptible to illness who prefer runny eggs. Pasteurized eggs must be kept refrigerated.
• Pastured eggs: Pastured eggs originate from hens free to roam and forage on a maintained pasture area. The vegetarian diet may be supplemented with grain. The hens are moved to various pasture areas to maintain a constant supply of vegetation for the hens.
• Vegetarian eggs: Produced by hens fed a vegetarian diet.
No matter how they’re produced, all eggs are rich in nutrients and vitamins. In fact, a single egg contains almost all of the essential protein, minerals and vitamins the human body needs. In addition to being a great source of protein, eggs also contain high levels of choline, which aids in brain function, lutein, which is a caroteniod that helps eyesight and Vitamin D, which helps with bone growth and development and is great for your immune system.
CEP invites Coloradans to share their love of eggs on Facebook through its Good Eggs-posure contest. To enter users may submit a photo of an egg meal and the winner, selected through a public vote, will win a $100 gift card to the Colorado breakfast restaurant of their choice. For every vote CEP will donate one egg to the Food Bank of the Rockies (up to 25,000 eggs). Contest ends April 1, 2014. To learn more visit www.facebook.com/coeggproducers.
To learn more facts and information about eggs, find CEP on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest or visit www.coloradoeggproducers.com.
About Colorado Egg Producers Association
The Colorado Egg Producers (CEP) Association is a membership organization representing seven farms throughout the state. CEP is committed to doing what’s right for its community, as illustrated by the regular donation of thousands of eggs to food banks throughout the state. Local egg farmers take great pride in providing eggs to Coloradans. We are also proud to offer consumers the choice between cage, cage-free eggs, organic, nutrient enhanced, brown and white eggs, although it is important to note, there is no nutritional difference between cage-free eggs and conventionally produced eggs. For more facts and information about eggs and CEP, including a list of where to buy Colorado eggs, please visit www.coloradoeggproducers.com.