A few years ago, on a chilly November afternoon, we were visiting with one of our “egg ladies”, a local lass named Vi, who raises chickens on her property down the road from our house. As we spoke I noticed that she currently had as many Muscovy ducks as Black Star and Buff Orpington chickens waddling around in the fenced in yards, and I made mention of that fact. “Do you like ducks eggs?” Vi asked. “Well I’m not sure I have ever had one.” I responded. “I’ll get you some”, she said. Ten minutes later, as we readied to leave with our customary dozen (chicken) eggs, I reminded her that we would like some duck eggs too. Yes, she said, she would save me some. “When should I pick them up?” I said. “Probably next March”, she responded. Such was my introduction to the delicate intricacies and inter-dependencies of fowl reproduction, sunlight, vitamin D synthesis, “pinking up”, and breakfast. Silly city boy. Who knew ducks and chickens need sunlight to lay eggs? (Commercial producers add vitamin D to their chicken feed to compensate for the sunless conditions in most caged egg operations.)
We started purchasing our eggs and chickens straight off the farm when we started paying attention to what was included in your typical store bought chicken and egg products. If you are reading a food blog you no doubt are aware of what I mean – antibiotics, preservatives, unwholesome feed practices, etc; not to mention the shoe-box living conditions of birds raised by many commercial chicken producers.
Part of our continuing effort to focus the contents of our cupboards on natural and environmentally friendly food includes regular purchases of “farm fresh, free range” eggs and poultry. I have written before about our favorite chicken supplier, Maple Grove Farm in Putnam Station, NY.
We are most fortunate to have three sources for eggs. An additional source will be the Schroon Lake CSA that we just joined last week – Sugarbush Farms – which will provide farm raised pork in the fall too. A diversified supply chain is important in our kitchen endeavors, as all of our “farmers” do this on a small scale, and at times the supply chain is disrupted by things like weather, particularly lack of sunlight in winter, or the proverbial fox in the hen-house. (Seriously)
|80 gram ducks eggs v/s 50gram chicken eggs|
started off with a focus on health, but that is not the reason
that we no longer eat store bought eggs and chickens. Naturally
raised eggs and birds taste better. In a prior post I wrote
with farm raised chickens.
Farm fresh eggs laid by free range chickens who spend their
days sauntering around in the barnyard pecking at bugs and natural
feed also taste better. Some will say they taste better because they
look better. Some suggest that in a blind taste test it is impossible
to tell the difference. If you look at the bright marigold
color of a farm fresh egg yolk, standing firm and upright with no
washed out whites, maybe you just think it tastes better. Maybe
the perception is the reality, but for whatever the reason, they do
taste better. You can read about one of those taste
protein levels in the whites of a duck egg make for fluffier pastry
dough. Conventional wisdom also says that those higher proteins make
for a tougher egg when used as a stand alone breakfast entry. I
disagree; I can discern little difference in texture unless they are
Up in the Adirondacks the going rate for farm eggs seems to be $3 per dozen. (One of our egg ladies charges $2 so I hope she does not read this). In a NYC Green Market the price goes up to 50 cents or more per egg, but that’s the price of real estate and fuel to New York, not the chickens. Even at those prices, it is a small premium to pay over store bought commercially produced eggs. It is a luxury we can all afford, and it’s also the healthy choice. One additional benefit of supporting the local egg producers is the growing trend among these small scale producers of using “heritage birds” instead of the Rhode Islands and Leghorns utilized by most commercial producers. Anything that contributes to the popularity of these increasingly rare breeds is worth supporting.
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