To date, raising chickens has been one of the most amazing and unpredictable endeavors that I have chosen to pursue. To understand an ornery and interesting creature as the chicken is extremely eye-opening and initiates a perceptual shift in what most of people view them as being. So, sit back, relax, and learn why each and every one of us should be beyond eggcited about raising chickens of our own.
In Joel Salatin’s book, Folks, this ain’t normal, he writes: “If every kitchen in America had enough chickens attached to it to eat all of the scraps coming out of that kitchen, no egg industry or commerce would be necessary in the whole country… let’s go all the way and link the chickens to their historical jobs, as salvagers of scraps and food waste ” (p. 79). Yes, you read that correctly. By purchasing these extremely economical and extremely low maintenance animal, you could have a hand in shutting down an industry as massive as that of the egg industry. Additionally, let me also highlight something else to you on this note. Chickens are able to literally produce one of the healthiest products simply by eating sustenance that has been deemed throwaway scraps by humans. Amazing, right?
Salatin adds, “How about putting a small chicken house adjacent to the kitchen so the garbage doesn’t have to be tucked anywhere? Just feed it to the chickens and bring the eggs inside. Now we’ve got multiple benefits with one simple action” (p. 79). He goes on, “That would eliminate all the grain that needs to be produced to feed the chickens. Reducing the grain production would reduce the amount of tilled land, which would reduce erosion, which would free up more land to be covered in perennials, which would build soil and ultimately stimulate springs to flow again” (p. 79).
In case you got lost in that sequence of information and forgot where it all began, let me remind you - it all stemmed from the chicken.
Now let’s discuss the benefits of eggs, and not just any old eggs, but farm fresh eggs. The eggs collected and eaten from backyard chickens contain benefits that far surpass those of store-bought eggs. Some of these benefits include:
Studies show several advantages to farm fresh eggs including lower cholesterol, less saturated fat, high levels of vitamin E, A, and D, more omega-3 fatty acids, and more beta carotene. For your reference, I have included information below that explains just why these things are so important.
Although our bodies need cholesterol, too much can increase the risk of heart disease.
Too much saturated fat can lead to a build-up of cholesterol, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Acts as an antioxidant in the body to protect cells against free radicals found in our food and environment.
Helps vision, the immune system, reproductive system, and aids to ensure that the heart, lungs, and kidneys work properly.
Helps the body to absorb calcium for strong bones, improves muscle integrity, and helps the body to fight off bacteria/viruses.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Aids in preventing heart disease, regulates blood pressure, improves mental acuity, fights depression/anxiety and inflammation.
A precursor to Vitamin A, helps to promote healthy skin, eye sight, and supports the immune system.
Treatment of Chickens:
Most commercial-industry farms keep their laying hens in small cages with poor living conditions for their entire life. Chickens are proven to be healthier and produce healthier eggs when they can forage for themselves and participate in natural chicken activities, as those of backyard chickens.
Storage and Shelf Life:
Eggs sold at a grocery store take 1-3 days to arrive at the store and can sit on the shelf for up to 30 days before they are purchased. Farm fresh eggs are the freshest way to eat eggs, and can be kept unrefrigerated if the egg is not washed for up to 60 days as long as the “bloom” (outer coating of the egg) remains intact. They can also be refrigerated to last up to 7x longer, although most argue that they taste even better when they are left unrefrigerated.
One paramount safety concern that consumers have with eggs is salmonella infection. Scientists report that caged chickens are at a much greater risk of contracting salmonella compared to backyard chickens, which make farm fresh eggs much safer to eat.
Those that have eaten farm fresh eggs will argue that their flavor is richer and overall better-tasting as compared to store-bought eggs. Farm fresh eggs also have more vibrant yolks (due to a healthier/natural diet) and whites that are stiffer and hold together better. For this reason, most believe that they are better to cook with, as well.
Now that you have been informed, I think that we all need to challenge ourselves by asking a very raw and difficult question:
If I did not have access to a single grocery store tomorrow, would I be able to provide for myself and for my family based on what is in my freezer, pantry, and/or backyard?
In today’s society, most answers would be “no”. This is not necessarily to the fault of one single entity, but a combination of many facets of the way that our world is today. To begin to address this astronomical issue, it starts with how each and every one of us choose to react to this way of living. The reliance on commerce and food brought into our homes from gigantic companies and unknown operations would have been a foreign concept to those that lived two or more generations before us.
As the saying goes, knowledge is power. We all have the knowledge and tools in our arsenal to take a stance and employ a “do it yourself” lifestyle where our food does not travel hundreds of miles to reach our kitchen tables. I hope that I have sparked something in you that will lead to increased cognizance of where your food comes from and how sustainable your current food situation truly is.
So plant a garden, add some chickens to your backyard, and pick up a copy of Folks, this ain’t normal by Joel Salatin - and get on track to a more eggcellent way of life.