In honor of the Easter holiday and the start of quiche/frittata season, I thought I’d share one of the easiest and cost-effective items in your cart to start sourcing locally today: the egg. When someone asks me where to start buying local, I almost always say start with your eggs and your milk. Replacing those items does not require a major increase in the grocery bill (maybe $4-5) and if you’re already including eggs in your menu, it doesn’t require any dietary sacrifices.
The Minnesota Grown Directory has 66 listings for eggs, including a few farms in the Twin Cities Metro area. Likewise, most co-ops offer a local egg, as do many of the farmers markets, arrive early as eggs often sell out first! Since there are so many egg options available, I’ll just mention the brand in our refrigerator and instead share some reasons you’ll want to choose a local egg from now on.
Larry Schultz’s Organic Farm is our primary source for eggs. Located in Owatonna, Minnesota roughly 68 miles south of St. Paul, the eggs from the Schultz family farm are certified organic, cage-free, and absolutely fresh. We are able to buy them in bulk at Mississippi Market, and I’ve also seen them at Kowalski’s and Whole Foods. Added perk: they are comparable in price to other non-local organic eggs ($2.78 per dozen if we bring our own carton).
And now here’s my soapbox on why a local egg can’t be beat. (well…actually, they do beat well into cookies, custard, omelets, etc., but you know what I mean.)
Why knowing where your egg came from is a good idea
- Last August the FDA recalled more than half a billion (with a b) eggs across the country because of risks of salmonella. (Read here.) More than 2,000 people were sickened and for weeks the FDA could not determine the cause of the outbreak. No small, local Minnesota egg producers were involved in the recall.
- One of the biggest problems with contamination is the way the large farms market their eggs. A large egg production facility may sell their eggs under a 3-5 different private labels, meaning that although they both came from a massive production facility in Iowa, foodies in California and Vermont may think they are getting an egg from closer to home. If you know your local farmer, you can avoid all of this marketing mess and reduce the possibility of contamination.
- Want to know why when you hard-boil a commercially produced egg the shell peels beautifully and you get perfect looking deviled eggs? It’s because they’re old. Fresh eggs have a different p-H content in the shell which makes them harder to peel. The sell-by date on a carton of eggs is the last date a store can claim them to be “fresh eggs” (anywhere from 30-50 days from harvesting). Check out The Science of Cooking.
- I’m not a professional nutritionist, but have read a number of reports about the increase nutritional value of pasture-raised eggs over commercially produced. You can be the judge of the reliability and validity of those claims, however intuitively it makes sense that a healthier chicken will provide a healthier egg.
- My be-all of end-all argument: you are supporting a local farmer and contributing dollars to the local economy. Spend the economic leverage you have someplace it will count.