PROLOGUE AND HYPOTHESIS - IDENTIFY THE BIAS!
So first and foremost, we have to note that I truly believe that our eggs are better than any you can get in a store. So in doing this, I have to try and be as fair as possible to not let the bias come out in the comparisons and analyses. While not being entered into a scientific journal, I still will try to respect the scientific method. Note: Analyses were done on April 24, 2015.
Over the next few days, I will publish my findings in the blog regarding my comparisons between different types of eggs on origination, price, date, nutritional analysis, the "eye" test, yolk viscosity and even cooking!
COMPARISON #1 - IDENTIFY THE PLAYERS AND ORIGINATION
2. Standard Eggs - White eggs, very affordable, pretty much the "standard" egg. However, my bias creeps out here in helping you understand why they are so cheap. These eggs are frequently "farmed" in concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. Below is a video of what these apparently look like. While we have not visited a CAFO, this does appear to mimic what we have heard. Note the video was from some time ago, so I hope changes have been made.
3. Free Range Eggs - these eggs come from Wandering Hen Eggs. They advertise on their site that they inspect their contracted farmers to meet the criteria of 100% vegetarian fed, free to roam and no antibiotics and steroids. One thing stands out . . . chickens are not vegetarians! Click the hyperlink to learn more. Anyway, free range and the name Wandering Hen suggests:
What You Might Think It Means: Hens playfully strolling and tumbling down green hills, home on the range.
What It Actually Means: Free-range means cage-free plus "access to the outdoors." But as Mark Kastel of the Cornucopia Institute notes, this "access" typically means a few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass. And often, Kastel says, industrial fans that suck ammonia out of the building create "hurricane winds" through the small doorways, "and the birds don't really want to walk through that."
Kastel claims that the vast majority of free-range birds in commercial egg facilities never actually go outside. So in most cases, he says, free-range means the same thing as cage-free. Unlike in poultry production, there's no government oversight of the term "free range" when it comes to eggs, so companies can more or less interpret it as they see fit.
4. Organic Eggs - These eggs come from Great Day Farms, which as far as I can gather is emphasis on "farms" and not the singular farm. So multiple contracted farms. Also, what does organic really mean:
What You Might Think It Means: Chickens with hemp bracelets and yoga pants change the sign on their coop from "Chicken Coop" to "Chicken Co-op," then begin composting.
What It Actually Means: "Organic" actually means something very specific, and egg producers who use it are subject to USDA regulation. Organic eggs must come from chickens that are free-range (cage-free plus access to the outdoors), fed organic feed (no synthetic pesticides) and receive no hormones or antibiotics.
But as was the case with "free-range" eggs, Kastel says "organic" eggs are usually coming from birds that live in crowded, industrial aviaries. His organization has created an egg scorecard that rates organic egg farms on a much wider variety of factors.
So as the NPR article points out, titles and names don't mean anything really as there is no real management of the titles outside of organic certification.
Without visiting the other three locations, I cannot make any clear distinctions. However, I would like to think that the origination of our eggs is better. Our hens are happy, they are not overcrowded, most have names (i.e. Golden Treasure, Noisy 1, Noisy 2, Rose, Sunny, Brownie, Sally...) and we set out to be transparent. You can come see our operation any time! Plus we post pics and blog articles on our processes. The other websites demonstrate a veil of secrecy. Who are their contractors and farms? How many chickens are housed together? What do their living arrangements look like? These places are unknown at best, ours is visible. I think that provided a sense of peace, so we'll give this one to Dandelion Hills. (Feel free to debate this on Facebook if you like. I am willing to accept that this conclusion comes with bias).
We start with our eggs, which we sell for $4.00 a dozen. They are the eclectically colored eggs in the yellow carton.
Dandelion Hills Egg - $4.00 = 33.3 cents an egg
A trip to the local Walmart left me with some good options:
Standard Eggs - $1.98 = 16.5 cents an egg
Free Range Eggs - $3.86 = 32.2 cents an egg
Organic Eggs - $4.68 = 39.0 cents an egg
(Note: Original calculations had tax included until my genius wife reminded me foodstuffs are not taxed in Michigan. Good catch Diana!)
No one can beat the "standard" egg in price. However, watch the video above on how they can sell them so cheap. When you buy these, you are supporting this operational format . . . the CAFO format. Other than this, the cheapest eggs come from us. Not to mention that if you prepay for five dozen at $20.00, we throw in a sixth dozen for free, bringing the price down to 27.8 cents an egg! Nonetheless, the Standard Egg is the cheapest.
In the next part, I will release my findings on dates on the egg and nutritional information. See you soon!
In case you missed the rest of the EGGSperiment series: