Welcome to the “egg” edition of our newsletter, or so it might appear. We talk a lot about good eggs and bad. But good eggs are getting harder and harder to find which is really only symptomatic of a much larger picture: our shrinking access to quality food in this age of modern industrial farm production.
Despite the rising demand for organic and artisanal products, the growing “slow food” movement, the increase in small farms and farmer’s markets, factory farming now accounts for over 99% of all farmed animals raised and slaughtered in the U.S. (Virtually all seafood comes by way of industrial fishing or factory fish farms.).
Factory farms, also known as CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) or IFAP (Industrial Farm Animal Production), can house more than 125,000 animals under one roof and are designed to produce the highest possible output at the lowest possible cost to the operator. These facilities produce “cheap” meat, eggs, and dairy by externalizing their costs. The costs to the public from the ecological damage and health problems created by factory farms are not considered any more than the law requires, and companies have often found it less expensive to pay fines than to alter their methods. For this reason, the true cost of meat is never reflected in the price consumers pay. Animal suffering is given no meaningful consideration except in a few idiosyncratic cases.
We must do all we can to support humane farm practices, to avoid these cheap, unhealthy so-called food products and to let our legislators know that we do not accept the costs of this cruel and unsustainable system. Take the pledge!
To your health!
Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy (F.A.C.T.)
Posing in the Sky — Yoga for the Weary Traveler
Are you all bent out of shape after a flight?
Airline travel is no picnic these days due to a host of inconveniences, but what about what it does to your body, scrunched for hours in minimal space? Each year it seems economy airplane seats have gotten smaller, while people haven’t! These days the typical seat has a width of 17 or 18 inches, not to mention the shrinking sliver of space between your knees and the seat in front of you. No wonder extra legroom seats, though not affordable for most people, are cash cows for the airlines.
To keep you feeling supple in the air, Cyndi Lee, a top yoga teacher and founder of “no baloney” Om Yoga, has some poses you can do in your seat or in the aisle. Many of these can be performed by yoga novices; others are for more seasoned practitioners. “A lot of what you’re doing with these stretches is just increasing circulation,” Ms. Lee says, explaining that fluids “such as water and lymph can tend to pool in lower regions” on an airplane, making fliers “feel sluggish and thick” and pretty wrung out upon arrival. READ MORE
The Bad Egg
Over 95% of the eggs sold in U.S. markets are produced in factory farms where some 250 million hens are jammed into wire cages so small the birds can barely move, much less ever spread their wings. An automatic feeding cart runs between cages, sometimes decapitating hens as they’re eating the chemicalized feed — usually genetically modified, grains laced with pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and other additives. Often feet or heads get trapped in the wires, causing slow, painful death and layers of rotting, fetid corpses — breeding grounds for salmonella and all manner of virulent bacteria.
These hens suffer from feather-loss, blisters, tumors, foot and leg deformities, osteoporosis, Fatty Liver Syndrome, Swollen Head Syndrome, heat stress, mouth ulcers, and other diseases. Veterinary care is non-existent, as hens are considered cheap and expendable. Life is so hard in the cages that birds last on average about a year and a half; under normal farm conditions chickens can live as long as 15-20 years. READ MORE
The Good Egg
Good eggs come from hens raised in sanitary surroundings with plenty of natural light and outdoor space for exercise and wing flapping. They eat mostly grass, seeds and bugs that is their natural diet, supplemented with grain, preferably organic, free of hormones or antibiotics. The organic label is not a guarantee of superior quality — many large producers have creative ways of interpreting regulations, like access to outdoors (“free range”). Your best bet is to buy at greenmarkets where you can talk to farmers about their methods. Many small producers cannot afford the expensive USDA certification process, but maintain standards far above the minimum required for the “Organic” label.
For years, eggs got a bad rap for contributing to high cholesterol levels in people. However, about 200 studies over the past 25 years, most prominently the Nurses Health Study from Harvard, have found that it’s not cholesterol, but saturated fat that ups the risk of heart disease. Eggs are very low in saturated fat and, though high in cholesterol, it turns out be mostly the good kind, i.e., HDL and not LDL.
The fact is the good egg is one of the best, most balanced and easily digested foods on the planet. After all, it was designed to contain everything necessary to support a new life. An excellent source of protein, it’s low in calories (about 70-80 cal.), high in B vitamins like choline which is important for healthy brain function, reducing inflammation and regulating the cardiovascular system. It contains a type of protein that lowers the risk of blood clots that can cause heart attacks and strokes, as well as lutein and zeaxanthin which protect eyesight. High in sulfur, eggs promote healthy hair, nails and skin. Eggs are one of the few foods which contain a natural form of Vitamin D and have been shown to protect against breast cancer. READ MORE
The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg
The healthiest way to eat an egg is when the yolk, just barely set, as in poaching or soft-boiling, becomes creamy or runny when gently nudged. This preserves all nutrients in perfect, highly digestible harmony. The definitive method for poaching is to use an egg poacher, but mastery of soft-boiling has proven far more illusive. In fact, it’s a subject of considerable controversy. Some say start the egg in cold water and boil, others boil water first, then add. How much water? Cold eggs straight out of the ’fridge or warm to room temperature? Lid on or off? Rapid boil or medium? Turn down to a simmer or remove from heat and for how long? What about large vs. small eggs, high vs. low elevations? It’s a dizzying array of issues!
In short, cooks down through the ages and around the world will never agree, though each will claim to have found the “perfect” soft-boiling technique. So here’s ours, declared “easy” by several F.A.C.T. friends who claim absolutely no particular culinary expertise:
- Remove egg(s) from ‘fridge. Place in a small saucepan and cover the egg(s) about halfway with cold tap water.
- Cover the pot and place on the stove. Bring to a rapid boil. Turn off the heat.
- Wait 2½ minutes (a digital timer is helpful). Pour out the water and run cold water for a few seconds over the egg(s), so just warm to the touch.
- To open, tap in the middle with a knife and scoop out with a spoon.
Voila! a warm, syrupy yolk enrobed in a tender, but not rubbery, white.
Note: Egg size should make no difference if all eggs in the pot are the same size and covered half way with water. For those who like their yolk really runny and the white only slightly thickened, 2 minutes wait time will probably suffice.