cindy capitani

cindy capitani
Rutherford, New Jersey,
August 11
wordsmith. left the paragraph factory for a private atelier. follow me on Twitter @cindycap

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FEBRUARY 22, 2012 10:37PM

Unscrambling the alphabet soup of buying eggs

Rate: 8 Flag

Buying food used to be a fairly easy process. I went to the store and just bought whatever what was on sale, whatever I had a coupon for, or whatever brand my mother bought while I was growing up.

It’s not so simple anymore. As awareness grows about the dangers of processed foods, chemical additives, pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones and labels in general, it’s increasingly difficult to know how to buy healthy food.


Caged chickens have a higher rate of salmonella 

Since I can’t digest too much information at once – or make too many changes at the same time – I decided to start with educating myself about eggs. I love eggs, and generally start the day with two, something I’m thrilled is actually endorsed by the nutrition powers-that-be. Eggs, it turns out, are packed with all kinds of good-for-you nutrients and also are convenient, low cost and low calorie.

I love to eat my eggs soft boiled, sunny side up or poached, which never used to be a problem until salmonella became an issue. The foodborne bacterial illness – which causes 40,000 cases of food poisoning each year – is often traced to undercooked eggs, the worst case being in 1994 when 224,000 Americans became sick. Another bad case was in 2010 when 1,300 people got sick from eggs. There was even talk of putting warning labels on egg cartons and menus that eggs – like beef – must be thoroughly cooked.

All it takes is one sick hen to spread the disease to all the others before there’s an epidemic of salmonella-infected eggs.  That’s the problem with industrial farming: hens are jammed into cages, unable to stand, let alone move.

So buying eggs that come from “cage-free” hens should be better, right? Well, not necessarily. Aside from “organic,” labels are mostly unregulated and that’s what makes it so hard for consumers. Eggs labeled “free range” or “cage free” lead people to think the hens are roaming about an open field. They’re not. There’s actually no legal definition for either term. All those terms mean is that the hens are not kept in cages. They can be kept jammed into large, indoor spaces, however, without enough room to even spread their wings. And neither term is any indication of what they’re fed, which means pesticides, antibiotics and hormones can all be part of the recipe.

The rules for certified organic are legally defined and do offer some guarantees, like hens have to live cage-free, with access to outdoors. They also eat an organic, hormone-free diet that’s free of genetically modified organisms. Granted, this is no guarantee that their eggs will be disease-free. But the odds are better. In a British survey, 25 percent of caged hens were infected with salmonella compared to just 5 percent of organic hens. In six other U.S. studies it was concluded that people who ate eggs from caged hens had twice the risk of getting salmonella compared to people who ate eggs from cage-free hens.

Organic is the best bet, but they’re about double the price of conventional eggs, and not as readily available. It’s also easy to be tricked. I used to buy Egglands Best Eggs, thinking I was getting something better, something organic. I pictured hens roaming about in an open field, feeding on fresh, organic grains. The label makes a lot of health claims, dropping words like “natural” and “cage-free” and health claims like less cholesterol, more omega 3, B12 and D. Then I realized that nowhere on the label did it say “organic.” Egglands Best does make organic eggs, but the ones most commonly found in supermarkets aren’t. Further digging uncovered complaints to the FTC over deceptive claims, and a bad rating from the Cornucopia Institute that Eggland’s organic eggs came from a dozen different producers that were known for poor hen house conditions that offered little to no transparency. In fact, many of the most commonly found supermarket organic egg producers had poor ratings and were on an industrial scale.

Overall, studies indicate that cage-free of any kind is still safer than industrial brands, and organic is likely the safest bet of all. For me, organic is the way to go when I am going to eat cake batter and runny eggs. But when I’m cooking eggs thoroughly, I guess I’ll go the less expensive route.

I can’t wait to start researching chicken …




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I don't like eggs but I liked the information included in this piece.
Cindy, thanks for the story on this and in our case we've been going with the cage-free eggs since they became available in our area which may have been 15 years back in time.
You're so right, it's hard to know what to believe about the labeling on food. And then there's that other thing that really should matter. The grossly inhumane way hens and other animals are treated. I have to believe the stress of their obscene and short existences also lowers their immunity and contributes to disease.
Thank you so much for the info; everyone should read this. The key is also where to buy. Speaking of caged chicken, I found a few places in CA where I can buy free chicken. Long time ago I stopped eating chicken after I saw footage on caged chicken in the horror film "Faces of Death." R
You didn't mention 'Spam' ... and CoCo Puffs.
I love soft-boiled 'Spam' sandwiches. No bread.
You write about an important topic. Food Safety.
E- Mail
This may be read by Sam Kass, Michelle Obama.
To view the documentary 'Food Inc.' is a real must.
Goo is a mysterious "glue" tossed in chicken tenders.
Chicken tender is what a male penis is called on farms.
Smithfield Hams are electrocuted - 35,000 per day.
Dead moo-cows are dragged by a left leg to slaughter.

Chickens are diseased and kicked into the butcher bags.
The hen is so sick she moos and bellows like a red rooster.
Food (meat?) is RENDERED - "glued" together with what?

Vadana Shiva is a Physicist who speaks to Whoever Listens.
There are many nutrition/Pure-Food Healthy Activist. Care.
As much as 80% of processed 'stuff' is `Genetically Altered.

Labels do not inform. FDA is 'stacked' with Corporate Thugs.
Honey can be imported from China and corn-syrup is added.
The FDA allows consumers to be tricked. Research Ham Hock?
I was gonna just mention - A backyard hen has healthy yoke.
Place a grass grazing hen next to a commercial egg. Notice it.
The healthy egg is 'firm' - As in the egg-yoke is yellow healthy.

The caged hen that rides - As in travels on a conveyer belt. Oy!
On/On . . . Before my law - As in viewing lawyers blogs? Gaudy!
Before my jailed a`gin - As in a PA bank - I ranted ref:`Food.

Research "free Sludge fertilizer" that's dumped on farm fields.
I petitioned AGAINST SLUDGE pre-reading-law-bloggers. Oy!
Children, pets, and groundhogs die post SLUDGE DUMPING!
I great read
Be informed
Eat greens

Bitter herbs
Garbage in
Garbage out
I thank folk who write to inform eaters. No read crap either.
I like a good egg that is poached too. I can make a omelette.
Never eat a scrambled egg that comes from a quart container.
I woke up feeling like I ate a 'Spam' 'Stouffers' French Pizza.
The box in comes in has more nutrition? Real Cheese, huh?
The box says a Pepperoni Pizza is made with chicken, beef,
2- Pizzas
The box says:
Cook thoroughly.
Keep Frozen.
It's suicide IMO.
I didn't eat that.
I had 2- beers.
I burp in bed.
I go take nap.
Great read.
@Mary, thanks for reading.

@Des, I think I'm going to try a local farmer where I know cage free actually means free roaming ... I saw some footage of cage-free and it's still a fairly cramped existence, though way better than those cages for sure.

@Margaret, labeling is so deceptive, I could write an entire post about the sneaky ways "pure" and "natural" are used. And you're so right; the inhumane treatment of these animals absolutely leads to the increase of disease, if no due to stress, but because of confinement and cross-contamination.

@Thoth, I think I'd be afraid to read "Faces of Death." I've often thought about going vegetarian, but I know it wouldn't work for me. The answer is buying smaller quantities from quality farmers. You'er right, the key is where to buy.

@Art, Always such a creative response! I do have to see "Food Inc." I have a friend who runs an organic grassfed farm (that's what got me started on this research) and she told me some horror stories about roasts being glued together ... I was grossed out.
It was such a pleasure to read.
I worry . . .
People get bodily/soma toxic.
Never eat:
Uncle Ben's roasted chicken.
It's chemically flavored rice.
Campbell's CHUNKY beef
with country vegetables made
with lean meat - Hearty soup
I think it's why we act insane?
We don't pour 'Coke' in a P.U..
Before I read blogs I researched
One day when Annabella was in a car seat . . .
She was drinking water from aplastic bottle.
She said:
PaPa `
"This water smells like swimming pool water."

Sure enough. . . Water must have O20 bubbles
Bodies/Soma need Pure Water and Pure Food.
I can't imagine how awful some folks must feel.
Cindy, try the Goffle Rd Poultry Farm in Wyckoff. Fresh eggs laid on site.

Hope you are doing well!
@sg, Thanks, I will. I had heard about it but have never been.
Organic food is 10 or 20 times more dangerous than normal food in terms of food born illness. Home canning and restaurant canning is 1000 times more dangerous than commercial canning. Just in case the truth matters to any of you.
Greyhead campo, just a postless troll, still has a kind of a point: People used to run risks with their homegrown, home-processed food, and commercial producers with better techniques improved safety (tho eating Cold Cuts is always a risk - here in Canada a few people died of listeria a couple years ago; the company thoroughly cleaned their machinery and resumed business)......but as with many things, at some point new problems appear and eventually outweigh the old solutions.

I'm not so much concerned about the safety of commercial meat and chicken products as my passive participation in the treatment of animals, and eat very little of it, with righteous periods of total abstention.
@campo if "normal" means laced with toxic chemicals, I'll opt out.
Thanks, @Myriad, for the troll heads up. Yes, good points. I know there have been issues with raw and unpasteurized. Overall, small farm organic seems safer when it comes to meat, poultry and some veggies and fruits. Plus the treatment of animals is humane. I don't eat much meat either, mostly because I don't like it all that much, nor do I like handling/preparing it. Thanks for stopping by!