The Egg is the Best Part

Most of us regard the chicken as a mainstay of our diet, but it used to be different in the 1920s.  Chickens were primarily raised for their eggs and not their meat.  The chicken meat was expensive and not considered very tasty.  It was also available only seasonally, as chickens were slaughtered in the fall after they were no longer needed for laying eggs.

Journalist Mary McKenna uncovered how chickens became big business that started with a mistake.  Apparently in 1923 a farmer in Delaware accidentally placed an order for too many hatchling chickens, so they were sold for meat.  It was so successful that she did it again year after year and when her neighbors noticed it, the chicken meat industry took off.

New farming methods became easier for farmers to raise more chickens and chicken products from nuggets to sausages.  Americans then took to viewing chickens as a primary source of meat.  McNugget in 1980 sealed the deal and today Americans eat more than 4X as much chicken as at the start of the 20th century.

Eighty percent of the antibiotics used in the U.S. are used by industrial agriculture for purposes of growth promotion and preventing diseases that would make their concentrated animal feeding operations unviable.  The downside to this practice is that antibiotics seem to be transforming innocent farm animals into disease factories.  Most of the bacteria in the animal may be killed with the antibiotics but resistant bacteria is allowed to survive and multiply.

Eating the eggs may be the best way to get choline.  There was a misconception regarding their cholesterol content but eggs, in reality, particularly the yolks, provide valuable vitamins A, D, E and K, omega-3 fats and antioxidants.  The eggs are also the best source of choline available to help keep your cell membranes functioning properly.  This plays a role in nerve communications, prevents the buildup of homocysteine in your blood and reduces chronic inflammation.  We also need choline to make the brain chemical acetylcholine, which is involved in storing memories.  Researchers conclude that it’s extremely difficult to get enough choline unless you eat eggs or take a dietary supplement.  Egg yolks are good for you as they are rich in the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin that are beneficial for vision health.  They are also an excellent source of healthy fat and protein while giving you the vitamins that many of us are lacking.

Be sure you are getting organic eggs from free range chickens and not from caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet.  A pale, dull yellow yolk is a sure sign that you are getting those eggs from the caged hens.

Your best choice is to get to know a local farmer and get your meat and eggs there directly or raise your own backyard chickens.  Visiting the local health food store is typically the quickest route to finding high-quality local egg sources or hit those farmers markets and food co-ops.  Meet the people who produce your food face-to-face and get all of your questions answered to know exactly what it is that you are buying.  In fact, better yet, visit the farm itself.

Dr Fredda Branyon