Antibiotics in our food supply…

pink pggThere have been a few occasions, over the course of this blog, that I have been accused of writing too much “fear based content”.  Hmm… okay.  Well, I’ve never really looked at it that way… I’ve always thought I was just sharing tips, ideas and the things I have learned or have come to “know” in helping others live greener, healthier lives…

So, for those who don’t like that type of information, I’ll preface this by saying that you’re probably not going to like what I’m about to share.

Nonetheless, I find this next bit of information really bothersome and I happen to think it’s worthy of sharing.  Okay, now you’ve been lovingly warned…

Here goes…

The FDA recently released the fact that 80% of the antibiotics sold and used in 2009 were actually administered to livestock used for our food supply.  Of the 35 million pounds used, 28 million pounds were used for agricultural animals and only 7 million pounds were used on humans.

The concern is this… evidence shows that the ever increasing use of antibiotics on agricultural animals (used for food) is contributing to the growth of bacteria that is resistant to the antibiotics we use to treat human illnesses.

Most often, they are not used for therapeutic reasons either. They are used to increase the growth, weight and size of animals more rapidly, and also attempt to control diseases when the animals are raised in such cramped confinement quarters.  There is also the need cow2to maintain the animal’s illnesses because they are fed with things that are unnatural to their digestive systems.  (Regular readers might recall a previous post about agricultural animals actually being fed junk food!)

I could go on and on about this topic but, suffice it to say, this is the exact reason all of the meats, eggs and milk I purchase for my family are antibiotic-free, steroid-free and growth hormone-free…

While I hope you don’t think my advice is fear-based, I have to be honest and say this information does scare me…

Your thoughts?

Choose good, organic eggs… for the “health” of it!

eggzEggs have been getting a lot of bad press these days, and for good reason.  Two massive egg farms, Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farm (that house 7.5 million(!) egg producing hens kept in cramped, filthy conditions), are to blame for over 1,500 people contracting salmonella poisoning.  I can’t say that I’m surprised.

Research has shown that hens in these farms are more likely to produce contaminated eggs than free-range and organic hens simply due to the horrendous conditions where they are forced to spend their days and the cheap, unnatural grains they are fed, that often include the bi-products of other animals.  Add to that the antibiotic use on these poor hens (that destroys the healthy microflora in their systems) and, you guessed it… even more susceptible to contamination.

We always eat organic, free-range eggs due in part to this exact reason, PLUS when you consider that organic eggs are said to have three times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A than non-organic eggs, it seems like a no-brainer, regardless of a little extra expense.chikns

In a previous post I also reviewed all of the confusing terms that go along with egg selection and you can take a look by clicking here!  Eggs are truly an amazing source of protein and vitamin D, but when they’re organic you know that they are produced without antibiotics, steroid and growth hormones too!  Those are certainly some things and I would prefer to keep out of my family’s diet!

So be a “good egg”… buy good eggs, consume good eggs… and yes, I mean the organic kind!

Eggs and all the confusing “terms” that go with them…

eggzEvery time I visit the organic dairy case, I get more and more overwhelmed by the classifications and categorizations of eggs.  Too many terms… too many confusing terms!

They can also be misleading and aren’t always as “dreamy” as they might seem, so take a look at the real deal on these most common terms in the   “egg world”:

  • Organic – these eggs come from hens that are free of hormones, steroids and antibiotics.  They are fed an organic, vegetarian, pesticide-free diet.  Organic eggs are said to include three times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A than non-organic eggs.  This label is regulated by the USDA.
  • Cage-free – while cage-free sounds more humane, the reality isn’t always as great as it sounds.  While the hens aren’t confined to tiny individual cages, they are often placed in much larger common areas with other hens, but have no more individual space than a single cage… so no, cage-free does not mean they have ample space to spread their wings either.  Also keep in mind that this “label” is not regulated and cage-free does not mean organic unless it says so.
  • Free-range – these hens are raised with “access” to the outdoors, but sadly it doesn’t mean they spend their life prancing around the grassy hillside.  The reality is that they still spend much of their life in a cage-free environment, but are supposed get some time outdoors.  Since this term isn’t regulated eitchikn field2her, some reports say that free-range hens may actually spend little to NO time outdoors despite the claim.  Again, free-range does not mean organic unless it says so.

There are plenty of other terms –- “natural” which essentially means nothing (all eggs are natural!), “pasture-raised” which means they do peck around outdoors or “grass-fed” meaning they do get outdoors and eat grass, insects and all that nature intended (so these eggs contain the most nutrients, but you will pay for them… dearly!), “certified humane” meaning they live indoors, but are confined much less densely –- so all you can do is know what the terms mean and choose what matters to you.

I haven’t even touched on conventionally-raised hens but believe me, they are often fed cheap, disgusting grains and foods (including the by-products of other animals), kept in the smallest of cages with deplorable conditions, and have the tips of their beaks burned off so they don’t peck one another… sure, the dozen eggs you purchase may be 99 cents, but I cannot condone or support those practices.

We’re an “organic, free-range” family because, aside from raising my own chickens (no, not likely!) or knowing someone who does (unfortunately, I don’t!), I’m hoping that the eggs come from somewhat happy chickens that maintained a healthy diet and drug-free life!

(There you have it…  and I didn’t say “egg-cellent”, even once!…)

You’re a good (organic) egg!

Through all of the chaos of our current family health crisis, I’ve really been pretty lousy at planning meals, so I’ve had to be fairly creative at times… “family cannot live on a quick-pot-of-pasta alone”.

Fortunately, our kids have always loved eggs since the day they were old enough to eat them.  Our son, especially, can down three scrambled eggs without taking a breath, so we’ve now adopted what we deem a “breakfast dinner”.

horizonorganiceggsOf course, they must be organic eggs.  I’ve been buying Horizon organic eggs (more recognizable for organic milk, yogurts, cheese, etc.) because I know it’s a reliable brand, just like the milk I buy.  In fact, Horizon was the first nationally distributed organic dairy brand and helped pioneer the organic movement in 1992.

We all know eggs are such an amazing source of protein and vitamin D, but when they’re organic you know that they are produced without antibiotics and growth hormones.  Plus, the hens are cage-free and fed a 100% organic, vegetarian and pesticide-free diet so you know this means a better product for your family to consume too.  None of the nasty things will be neatly packed inside your eggs with all of the nutrition (which, by the way, happens to include three times more omega-3 fatty acids, twice as much vitamin E and 40% more vitamin A than non-organic).  Suddenly I don’t feel so bad about all the eggs I’ve been serving up!

I’ve gotten pretty good at making those “breakfast dinners” of traditional scrambled eggs (spruced up a bit) or a nice quiche (that I use to mask all kinds of healthy veggies) but admittedly, I need some new recipe ideas.  If you care to share one, please do… my family will probably thank you.

But just remember to keep your eggs organic to maintain the goodness inside, keep the badness out and you might just get a chuckle imagining all those happy, little hens prancing around the barnyard.