Practically everyone is familiar with the story Green Eggs and Ham, and the fellow who refused to eat them simply because of their unnatural color. Whether it was on a bus, or train, or in the rain, poor Sam just could not convince his friend to eat them. No matter that the taste was just the same as the ordinary fare he was accustomed to, it looked offensive and, therefore, he protested. Would Sam do the same if the tables were turned on him? I’d like to invite Sam over to our house where, since putting our chickens out to pasture, the color of our scrambled eggs is now a deep orange.
According to Coyote Creek Farm, “Grass is Mother Nature’s sunshine storage unit for her creatures food use. This is the starting point for the deep rich golden/orange yolk color in [my] eggs.” Marion Nestle, author of What to Eat, explains that “the color of a yolk is due specifically to carotenoids, which are natural pigments found in some plants.” The deeper the color of the egg yolk, the higher the presence of carotenoids in the yolk. Carotenoids are important for our nutritional health (beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in our bodies, and other carotenoids may have antioxidant functions). Although the Egg Nutrition Center argues that “free-range eggs do not differ from regular eggs in terms of nutritional value or cholesterol level”, there are others who disagree –like the Weston A. Price Foundation, which had UBE Laboratories in Fullerton California analyze egg yolks from the supermarket and from pastured hens, and found two times more vitamin A and 8 times more vitamin D in eggs from hens on pasture, and Mother Earth News, which published the following “Mounting Evidence” on their website:
- In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.
- In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.
- A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.
- A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.
- In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.
- The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.
While I can’t scientifically measure the amount of omega-3s, vitamin A, E, and beta carotene in my eggs, I can attest to the fact that the yolks have gone from having a pale, yellow hue (when their diet was mainly chicken feed) to being saturated with a deep, golden orange pigment that I can only attribute to their being put out to pasture, where they have access to fresh, green grass, insects, bugs, worms, and a daily biological concoction that God provides for their optimum nutrition and, probably, ours too!
I think Sam would most assuredly like these orange eggs with ham. 🙂