One of the many things that I love about the increasing daylight, is the greater availability of free range eggs.
If that seems like a strange thing to say, then you’re probably not aware of the truth behind the “free range” industry. In a nutshell, never trust the “free range” label, as it’s legally available to producers who provide a minimum amount of space to their chickens.
“Legal standards defining “free-range” can be different or even non-existent depending on the country. Various watchdog organizations, governmental agencies and industry groups adhere to differing criteria of what constitutes “free-range” and “cage-free” status.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) requires that egg producers be able to demonstrate that “free range” egg layers have access to the outdoors, though there is no government oversight as to the quality of the external environment, or the amount of time the hen has access to it.” (Wikipedia)
It’s usually wiser to assume that most eggs sold under the “free range” label were laid by hens kept indoors—and probably in crowded conditions.
In order to lay eggs, hens need exposure to light. Hence, in true free-range conditions, during the winter months their laying rates decline dramatically.
Instead of an egg a day, during the shorter and darker days, hens only lay the occasional egg. So, if your “free range” eggs are as easily available in the winter as in the summer, you can be sure they’re being kept under artificial light.
Unless you’ve done your homework and are satisfied that the chickens have proper access to roam about outdoors, then it’s best to err on the side of caution and avoid purchase.
To be sure that your eggs are truly free-range, then the place to shop for them is at the farmer’s market, or direct from your neighbourly farmer—and not from (most) supermarkets.
Better yet, why not rescue some battery hens looking for a new home. Their poo is a bit smelly, but there’s nothing like the eggs laid by your own hens in your own backyard.
True free range eggs are so delicious, not to mention versatile! When I want a quick and easy meal, they’re high on my list.
Last year I discovered a new favorite and it’s a regular meal for me now—egg-fried rice, with a Mexican twist.
(I often have cooked rice in my fridge, ever since watching a scientific food experiment on TV, where it was demonstrated that starchy carbs such as pasta and rice are healthier when allowed to cool and are then reheated. The process of cooling increasing the fibrous content of the starch, and when reheated that improves some more. Since then, whenever I cook either, I cook extra.)
I started experimenting with egg fried rice for quick and tasty lunch and suppers. But I couldn’t quite nail the tasty aspect. I always found them a tad bland—until, one day, I decided to add chili.
Next time, I grabbed an avocado, and the Mexican twist became more pronounced. Since then, it’s the only way for me.
If you like a little kick—and love avocados—I think you’ll appreciate this super quick recipe.
Here’s what you need for a single portion:
– Portion of cold, cooked rice
– Half a red or green chili, finely chopped
– One green onion, finely sliced
– One egg (laid by a happy hen), beaten
– Soy sauce
– Half an avocado, cubed
– Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Start by gently frying the onion and chili for about a minute. Add the rice, and continue to saute for a couple of minutes. Add a splash of soy sauce and the beaten egg. Stir-fry until the egg is cooked.
Stir through the avocado, sprinkle with the cilantro and serve.
Chickens are sentient beings. Let’s enjoy our eggs guilt-free.
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Photo: Author’s own.