July 25, 2015

An Eggsperiment: Factory Eggs vs. Home-Grown Eggs

Factory-farmed eggs
Eggs sure don’t taste like they used to, do they? That’s because chickens are now raised in commercial farms, also known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations). A centre for fattening up animals! A place where animals are robots on a conveyor belt—food in, eggs out. A chicken’s natural diet consists of what it can scratch up in the yard or forest—insects, worms, greens, grains, and plenty of sunshine and fresh air! But factory farmed animals don’t have any of that. Instead, they only eat processed commercial feed (more on that later), breathe in thick ammonia from each other’s faeces and never see the sun.

So, I decided to keep my own chickens, to see if I could produce a better egg. I have only one principle—no processed food. Their staple food is whole wheat, whole rice (with husk), millet and peanuts. I gave up on organic soybeans (regular soybeans are GMO) because it was too expensive. The chickies were none the worse for it. I supplement their diet with green veggies and occasionally, carrots, oatmeal with milk and yoghurt, mealworms, cockroaches, fruits, melon seeds, beansprouts and assorted kitchen scraps. My chickens’ diet is not optimal though - they don’t get quite enough fresh greens and bugs, simply because they have decimated everything in the garden! However, they do get plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and I only feed them natural whole grains, no commercial chicken feed. No chicken would eat commercial chicken feed anyway unless they had no other option.

And so... the results of my experiment! The eggs absolutely do taste better, although it is still not as good as I remember it from my childhood. The texture is firmer than store-bought eggs (although that could be because it’s fresher), the membrane is much thicker and stronger, and the shell is almost always harder. An all-over healthier egg!

And then, a surprising result...

Even the yolks are bigger!

On the left is is a factory egg (Size A / large). The one on the right is my hen’s egg (Size C / medium). (Click pic to enlarge.) Even though the volume of the Size A egg is much larger, the yolk is actually smaller than the yolk of the small egg!

Close-up: Look at that lovely orange colour! See how the factory egg is just extra egg white. Notice the ‘target’ pattern on the home-grown egg on the right—that means the egg is fertilised. The battery hen’s egg on the left is unfertilised and the germ remains a white dot (at about 4 o’clock). The bowls are the same size and you can roughly compare the size of the yolk by eye. Factory egg: 0, Home-grown egg: 1.

(Read more about how to get that beautiful orange colour naturally.)

But I didn’t know exactly how much bigger the yolk is until one day when I realised I totally could’ve been more scientific about this. So I boiled two similar-sized eggs and weighed them, and here are the results:

You can see right away the difference in the sizes of the yolks. And true enough,

#1 - Factory egg: Total weight: 42g. Yolk: 11g. (25% of total volume.)

#2 - Home-grown egg: Total weight: 41g. Yolk: 17g. (41% of total volume.)

Wow! That’s a 60% larger egg yolk for the same sized egg!

A better experiment the next day!

#3 - Factory egg, Size A. Total weight 55g, yolk 11g (20%).
#4 - Factory egg, Size C. Total weight 44g, yolk 13g (30%).
#5 - Home-grown egg, Size C. Total weight 45g, yolk 18g (40%).

Verdict: The first egg was just horrible. The white was spongy and crumbled in my hands. (Maybe it’s not fresh.) I had also accidentally knocked it while washing and the egg cracked and leaked when boiled, the shell and membrane were so weak. Note the sickly pale yellow colour of the yolk. Needless to say, it was completely devoid of taste and the spongy texture of the egg white was revolting. The Size A egg was so deficient that it had the smallest yolk of all three, even smaller than its Size C factory cousin!

It’s also possible that the difference is caused by the eggs coming from different breeds of chickens, but it doesn’t make sense that a bigger chicken (producing the bigger egg) could be born from a smaller yolk.

Anyhoo, what can one expect to come out of a factory where laying hens live like this? Yup, 24-7 like this for 2 years.

Living like sardines. How can you achieve health by eating corpses that lived and died like this?? Many commercial chickens’ livers just fall apart in my hands. And those are just meat chickens who are 1.5 months old. An animal has to be very, very sick for the liver to become so spongy as to disintegrate on touch. Much like the #3 mushy egg above.

These poor hens’ cages are so low, they can’t even stand up.

Do you wonder why your eggs might have salmonella? Why there are smudges of faeces on your eggs? Why eggs are washed before they leave the factory? Because it’s raining faeces in the factory!

Inhaling the ammonia from all that faeces will also damage the chickens’ lungs and lead to easy infections and death, so large amounts of antibiotics must be consumed round the clock, every single day. Antibiotics are added to the water and are already pre-added in all commercially-produced feeds.

(Pic by Farm Sanctuary)

Lights are kept on 24 hours a day so that the chickens do not sleep and carry on eating, growing and producing eggs like robots. They never get to see the sun, trees or grass, or know the feel of soil beneath their feet. Unhealthy chickens make unhealthy eggs. And unhealthy humans who consume them.

(Pic by Farm Sanctuary)
This farm is even more cruel, but it is the standard everywhere. The hens spend their entire lifetimes standing on slanted floors, which is very uncomfortable and painful. Birds are meant to wrap their feet around tree branches, not stand on wire floors, what more sloping ones. They spend their whole lives in pain. All those stress hormones? They go into your body when you eat their carcasses.

Each bird is only allocated half a square foot of space. They are so cramped that they cannot even turn around. Forget about stretching their wings or walking. Sounds like veal? If you think veal is cruel, is this not even worse? Veal calves only need to suffer for 5 months. Hens have to suffer this for 2 years—for your enjoyment. Veal meat is pale and anaemic, so are your chickens and eggs.

(Pic by Farm Sanctuary)
A mountain of faeces under the cages, left behind by previous prisoners. Hygienic much? This is where your food comes from. Why bother sweeping shit when it’s cheaper to just add antibiotics into their food and water?

What about cage-free and free-range chickens, you ask? Nope, that’s a load of advertising BS too.

Free to range—in the big cage.
Read here about what exactly constitutes a “free-range” chicken. Not at all what you think it means!

The “free-range” chickens in the picture have bald chests, which shows that they are highly stressed and have plucked out their own feathers.

What are these poor souls fed such that their eggs and meat are so bland? Processed food, of course. With lots of antibiotics and chemicals.
This is a bag of feed that is sold where I live (Malaysia). Here are the ingredients:

The main ingredients are corn (carbs) and soy (protein), which will fatten up the chickens quickly. Since Malaysia imports all our corn and soy from the US, this means that 90% of it is likely to be GMO (genetically modified). GMO foods are engineered to tolerate very high applications of pesticides and herbicides (to generate more sales for the herbicide company), and whatever is contained in the food is naturally passed to the eater. So you can be sure that your factory chicken, eggs, and YOU, are very high in pesticides and herbicides, which is one of the causes of the sharp increase in ADHD and autism in children, plus good ol’ cancer and kidney failure. (More on GMO foods another day). There are also “unspecified grains” in there, as well as “grain by-products”. By-products basically means chaff, corn cobs or soy meal after the soy milk is pressed out and other similar stuff. (These are standard ingredients in commercial cat and dog foods as well.)

All these ingredients are ground together and “vegetable oil” (palm oil) is added to hold the mash together and keep its shape as it is extruded through machines to form pellets. Extrusion requires high heat, which destroys all the nutrients in the food, so artificial forms of vitamins and minerals have to be added back to the mix. Artificial anything is obviously not as easily absorbed as natural, so this makes for an unhealthy chicken, and an unhealthy you. “Animal protein” is fish meal because fish diseases are not communicable to chickens. (And as such, chicken parts are fed to fish. What an evil cycle.) Calcium is added for layer hens to use in making eggshells.

The next ingredient is coccidiostats. Now, this is really interesting stuff. “A coccidiostat is an antiprotozoal agent that acts upon coccidia parasites” (Wikipedia). Coccidia is a common parasite that lives in the intestines of many animals. If infected, the animal gets bloody diarrhoea, becomes dehydrated, anaemic and listless, and over time, their growth will become stunted and they may die. When a laying chicken is sick, it naturally won’t lay eggs.

Coccidia parasite
(Pic by Mike the Chicken Vet)

Coccidia is transmitted by eating the faeces of infected animals. Do the above chicken farms look clean to you? How about keeping the place clean so that there won’t be parasites? Nah, workers cost money. Consumers want cheap. So let’s do something cheap.

“Coccidiostats are potent drugs and, where residues occur in food, may exacerbate certain CORONARY DISEASE conditions.” (UK Food Safety Board)

And right here may be why there are such HIGH RATES OF HEART DISEASE in developed countries. Because of coccidiostats added to animal feed. ALL farmed animal feed, not just chickens. Pet food too. This is why coccidiostats have been banned in the European Union. Those Europeans know how to elect good governments, yes they do! “Scientists” say Europeans don’t get heart disease because they drink alcohol—what rubbish!!! Alcohol is a toxin, it destroys cells. Fact is fact. All that “alcohol is healthy” bunk is just to distract from the truth—that it is more profitable to kill you with poisoned food. Why haven’t other countries banned coccidiostats if it makes people sick? It’s a great business model, don’t you think? Highly profitable for the agricultural, medical and pharmaceutical industry. How much money do these three industries contribute to the economy? It’s the same reason why cigarettes and alcohol haven’t been banned by “health” authorities.

Well, let’s get on with the next lovely ingredient then—“approved antimicrobials”. Antibiotics. Did you know.... 80% of antibiotics sold are fed to animals? (Source.) In the US, that is 29 million pounds in 2009. What is 29 million pounds... the size of a sea, perhaps.

Antibiotics are added for obvious reasons (farms are filthy and cleaning costs money), plus the not-so-obvious MAIN reason—to fatten up animals faster. How? Antibiotics kill the good bacteria in the gut, and this dysbiosis (microbial imbalance in the digestive tract) somehow causes the animal to grow fatter faster on the same amount of food. Saving money on feed = more profit! More business for pharma is good too! If animals stopped eating antibiotics, pharma would lose 80% of their business. So it’s imperative that you eat more animals so that they can stay rich! And what of people who consume all these antiobiotics in the animals then? Certainly there is plenty of residue in the meat and eggs. Wanna get fat fast? Hey ho! Plus if you consume antibiotics every day, someday when you really need them, there won’t be any left that can work for you.

And lastly, “additives”. They ain’t telling what this is cos if you knew, you sure wouldn’t want to eat it! Ignorance is business bliss!

So, now you know why eggs (and meat) taste so terrible nowadays. Garbage in, garbage out.

Now, this here, is the way chickens were meant to live. And if you’re lucky, you may be able to buy eggs from pastured chickens in your area. Pastured (not to be confused with pasteurised) means the animal is grassfed - it gets to live in the pasture (grassland) and eat lots of greens and bugs. They also get plenty of exercise, sunshine and fresh air, just the way nature intended!

Grassfed chickens in Brazil.
(Pic by Criar Galinha)

Pastured chickens living the good life on a farm in Washington, USA.

Below is a large-scale pastured farm in New Zealand. What a lovely sight! Don’t accept anything less!

Compare this work of art below to your pale, sickly-looking supermarket egg! Wanna be as healthy as this egg? Buy pastured eggs, or raise your own. Once you've tasted a pastured egg, you will never go back to factory eggs again!

Read more about how this gorgeous egg was made, and how you can do it too!

Pastured chicken. Note the deep, yellow fat at bottom left. This is due to high levels of beta carotene and Omega-3.
The more greens the chicken eats, the higher the nutritional content of its body and eggs.
(Pic belongs to A Man and His Hoe)

In some countries, you may be able to buy pastured eggs (or meat) in supermarkets. Otherwise, you can buy directly from a farmer or backyard breeder that you know, or raise your own. Failing which, become a vegetarian or vegan.

Pastured eggs - Vital Farms, USA
Pastured eggs - Alexandre Kids Eggs, Northern California, USA

Pastured eggs and chickens - Washington, USA

Pastured eggs and chickens - Malaysia

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