Friday, December 7, 2007

Not Quite Polyface Eggs

My Green Book Club is currently reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. For those of you who haven't read the book, you should. It is an eye-opening journey into how America eats. In the book, Pollan investigates four different kinds of meals: (1)industrial, (2) big organic (e.g., Whole Foods), (3) small organic (e.g., farmer's market, pasture raised meat, dairy and eggs) and (4) personal (self-grown, hunting and gathering).

For the third type of meal, Pollan visits a small organic farm, Polyface, a "pasture-based, beyond organic local market farm." "Polyface eggs" receive many accolades throughout the chapter with the author, chefs and the farmer's brother raving that the eggs have "muscle tone", the yolks possessed "unusual integrity", separating the yolks from the whites was a cinch, and that the yolks "stand up" on their own.

I've never had Polyface eggs and, though I'd love to have some chickens, that just doesn't appear to be in the cards for me right now. Instead, I've been satisfying myself with eggs sold at Whole Foods but laid at a local egg farm. A fellow mom visited the egg farm and reported that the chickens roam free, eat bugs, fresh grass and organic feed and are humanely raised. I never noticed a difference in the eggs taste or appearance but figured that at least the animals had real free range.

A few weekends ago, I visited family in Napa Valley. We stopped at a road side farm, Long Meadow Ranch Rutherford Gardens, advertising local, organic produce and grass-fed beef. The kids were delighted to run around the farm - checking out hens and roosters (not pasture-fed but looking quite happy in an extra extra large coop feasting on fall's leftover pumpkins), bee hives, fruit trees, vegetables and strawberries and some highland bulls. We were also able to procure the last dozen of eggs available this week - and it was only 10am! Apparently, the eggs sell out quickly.

Later, I made scrambled eggs with my not quite-Polyface eggs and could not believe the bright yellow color or creamy texture. My mom remarked that these were like the eggs she ate as a child. Later, while making a cake, I used the last of the Long Meadow Ranch eggs and some of the local Whole Foods eggs. Guess which ones were purchased right off the farm:


The difference is striking, even in a photo. The Whole Foods egg yolks break apart almost immediately and are a light yellow color. The farm fresh eggs had bright orange yolks that really did have "muscle tone." I'm sold!

What's the difference? Is it freshness - I'm sure that's at least part of it. Any ideas?

In the mean time, my not quite Polyface eggs are golden! Now if I can only convince Mr. Green Bean that we need some chickens here on the homestead. ;-)

1 comment:

UncleHoot said...

Just found your post...

The "difference" that you mention is mostly in the feed. The eggs that come from Whole Foods are not all that different from the eggs that come from conventionally raised hens. Sure, the chickens may be treated more humanely, which is nice, but it doesn't necessarily produce a better egg.

I started my hens on both conventional feed, and all the grass they could eat. Even though January is almost over and the birds have spent the last 2 months in the coop, the egg yolks are still much more orange than those from the store. And just like red vegetables/fruit, the more red in the yolk, the more beta-carotene. Additionally, these eggs generally contain many other nutritional benefits over those from the supermarket.

In my opinion, any egg you buy from a local farmer is likely better than anything you can buy in any store.

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