"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pasture-Fed, Free-Range Eggs—They’re Worth Gold

An egg laid by one of my hens.
Notice the thick shell and beautiful yolk.

In my post Eggs: A Perfect Food, I talked about some of the health benefits of eggs. However, I left out an important aspect: not all eggs are of equal nutritional quality. In this post, I’m going to talk about some of the differences between eggs from healthy free-range hens and eggs from battery-caged hens (mass-produced).

Pasture-fed, cage-free eggs are nutritionally superior to eggs sold at the grocery store, which are from overworked caged hens. Hens used for commercial production are kept in small cages… or “chicken concentration camps.”  Instead of being outdoors, they are caged inside a noisy crowded chicken house. The hens are kept so close together that they need to have their beaks trimmed in order to prevent feather picking and cannibalism. I have read many horrific details about the way eggs are produced in mass scale… but since I can’t speak for the conditions of every large-scale egg producer, I’m going to focus on how eggs should be raised.

My free-range hens are able to eat grass, scratch in the dirt, eat bugs, and live how chickens are designed to live. Nutrients from grass and insects are what make their eggs so great. My chickens get sunshine, constant fresh air, and room to flap their wings and run. My chickens are also supplemented with high-quality, non-medicated, low soy feed that does not contain preservatives. This ensures they get all the nutritious food needed to produce eggs regularly. This is how laying hens should be raised. Consequently, my chickens are very healthy. They produce excellent eggs which help to keep me and my family healthy.

I don't know why they insisted on using the same nesting box...Haha

My family and I have so much trust in our healthy hens and eggs that we sometimes eat our eggs in raw forms (such as in homemade mayonnaise). Salmonella is only to be worried about when eating eggs that come from dirty crowded hens. Commercial hens are overly fed antibiotics, which causes pathogens to build up resistances and grow stronger. There is nothing to worry about from eggs from my own chickens. My chickens have many acres of woods and grass that they can roam around in all day to keep them healthy. They are disease-free with shinny feathers and brightly colored combs and waddles.

Eggs of different size and color

The appearance/color of an egg yolk and the thickness of the shell is one way to tell the nutritional quality of an egg. Free-range shells are not thin. They don’t crack easily. You should need to gently hit it on the counter a couple times for it to break. 

More importantly, the color of the yolk represents the nutritional quality of the egg.
Eggs from healthy chickens should have yolks which are a rich bright orange color (not yellow). The yolks from healthy chickens are firm, round, and do not break easily (ideal for when you need to separate eggs for a recipe).

I call the eggs I gather from my free-range hens “gold” because their value is truly of the same worth. This is because of the work and time that goes into producing healthy eggs from healthy chickens.

Free-range chickens

In conclusion, eating eggs from the store is better than not eating eggs at all. Organic or free-range eggs from the store are better than regular store eggs to an extent. The term “free-range” as used on eggs from the store does not necessarily mean the eggs are truly free-range. The label “free-range” can mean anything from a very tiny door which the hens will not use, to an outside pen that has no grass. Fresh eggs, from a small farmer who provides his/her hens with a yard to forage in, are by far the best you can buy.

That being said, there is a good reason for price differences between store eggs and true free-range eggs. Small farmers can’t compete with large government subsidized corporations. Even organic grocery store eggs, which do not come close to small farm free-range eggs, have to be a higher price due to strict organic feed standards.

High-quality eggs from happy healthy chickens can never be produced on a large-scale. If we wish to stay healthy and for the next generation to be healthy, the solution is to replace cheap, mass-produced, eggs with many small farms of only a small flock of chickens. If you have a yard, the best way to get quality eggs is to raise them yourself! Just a few chickens can provide a family with all the eggs they need, and enough to share.

Support local small farming!

Thanks for reading.


P.S. This post is linked to Butter BelieverThe Healthy Home Economist, and Food Renegade.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

Eggs: A Perfect Food

Eggs from my free-range hens--these are gold!

“Is tasteless food eaten without salt, or is there flavor in the white of an egg? I refuse to touch it; such food makes me ill.” Job 6:6-7 

In recent years the nutritional value of eggs has been discredited, especially egg yolks. The idea that we shouldn’t eat egg yolks, but instead only eat egg whites in order to lower cholesterol or to loose extra pounds, is simply opposite of the truth. Egg yolks are packed with valuable nutrients and are one of the healthiest things for us to eat. In many traditional cultures egg yolks were considered sacred foods. I was rereading Nourishing Traditions (by Sally Fallon) today and it listed several studies showing that eggs do not raise cholesterol or contribute to heart disease. The results of the studies show that cholesterol levels are lowered when eggs are eaten regularly.

  • Eggs are a great source of protein, and are a complete protein. 

  • Eggs from healthy chickens contain virtually all known vitamins and minerals (except for vitamin C), including fat-soluble vitamins such as A and D.

  • Eggs help with mental/brain development in children, and maintenance for adults.

  • Eggs contain proteins that contain sulphur, which strengthens cell membranes.

  • Egg yolks have a high amount of choline, which is a nutrient essential for health.

  • Eggs (especially free-range) contain omega-3 fatty acids.

Egg Yolks—the Most Valuable Part of Eggs

Nourishing Traditions recommends feeding egg yolks to babies as one of their first foods, based on traditional diets. This is in contrast to the popular recommendation that babies should be fed rice cereal as a first food. Egg yolks are an ideal food for growing and developing children, as well as adults who wish to have vibrant health.

Dr. Weston A. Price’s studies of traditional people groups show that eggs are recommended for couples to eat for several months before conception. Eggs (and other sacred foods) aid in fertility. High quality eggs are one of the best foods for pregnant mothers to eat.

Think about what an egg yolk is used for in nature… it is used to feed a tiny developing baby bird until it’s ready to hatch from its egg. The yolk is so packed with nutrients that it’s all the developing chick needs for the 21 days of gestation. The egg yolk is so rich and nutritious that it can sustain a little baby chick for 3 days after hatching without food or water.

I can’t emphasize enough how important foods like egg yolks are in the development and health of children. Growing children should not be fed a diet consisting of mostly carbs., grains/starches, and sugar (!!!), as is so common. Their brains, bones, cells, organs, digestive systems, nervous systems, developing reproductive systems, etc., etc., need rich healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals found in traditional foods like eggs. Eating high quality eggs and animal fats during the developing years contributes to overall physical beauty as well.

So instead of cereal or toast for breakfast tomorrow morning, have some eggs!

Thanks for reading.


P.s. This post was shared at Raising Homemakers and Frugally Sustainable.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Video: Introduction to Traditional Eating and Weston A. Price

I just made myself a cup of my favorite spicy chai tea, and sat down at my computer… because I’ve let over a week go by without a blog update! Don’t forget about me. I’ll have more posts up soon. : ) In the mean time...

I’m excited to share this awesome video from the Healthy Home Economist blog!

This short video gives a great summary of Dr. Weston A. Price’s studies of traditional cultures and the foods/food preparations they used.

If you are interested in more videos like this one go HERE.

If you have not previously heard about the Weston A. Price Foundation, I encourage you to visit their website: www.westonaprice.org.

Read a few of their journals for eye-opening and thought-provoking explanations of real nutrition and healthy lifestyles, which challenge conventional beliefs. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Honey: The Sweetener that Nourishes

Raw Honey

“Eat honey, my son, for it is good; honey from the comb is sweet to your taste.” Proverbs 24:13

Honey is a natural sweetener that is actually GOOD for us. White sugar can shut down our immune system and pulls nutrients from our bodies. In contrast, honey (specifically raw and local) nourishes our bodies and can be used medicinally. Honey is full of vitamins and minerals. Honey has no side effects, and is known for curing all sorts of ailments. My family makes it a point to use honey in place of sugar in a lot of our baking, cooking, smoothies, and teas, among other things. Honey is truly one of the many naturally occurring (yet underrated) super-foods. It has been enjoyed and appreciated by many people groups around the world for thousands of years. Why don’t we use more of it?

Bee hives in my backyard.
Thank you little bees for all the work you do!

Raw Local Honey

Honey has health benefits even when heated, but raw (unprocessed and unheated) honey is the best for you. Honey is perfect straight from the bee hive.  

Just as pasteurization kills important enzymes in milk, heat kills valuable enzymes in honey. Raw honey is easy to digest, and can aid your body in the digestion of other foods.

Eating local raw honey helps with seasonal allergies. Honey bees find nectar from whatever flowers happen to be in bloom. Nutrients and pollen from these plants get mixed in the honey. Eating bee pollen can help your body build up immunity to the plants causing seasonal allergies.

Raw honey can also contain bits of propolis—a sticky sap-like substance that bees use to repair their hive. It is antibacterial and fights against viruses.

Note: Do not give honey to babies. It is said that a baby’s digestive system cannot handle some of the bacteria found in honey. However there is controversy over this issue among raw honey activists. Personally, I would be on the safe side by not giving honey to babies, as well as thoroughly researching this topic. 

Raw honey cinnamon toast--YUM!

A few honey remedies:

  • When someone in my family starts to feel a little sick, one of the first things we do is take raw honey and fresh crushed garlic on a spoon. We do this a few times throughout the day. More times than not, we fight off the sickness before it even turns into a real cold.

  • Drinking lots of liquids is very important when trying to fight off a sickness. Herbal hot tea with raw honey is very soothing when you are sick or have a sore throat. All the great stuff in honey helps your body heal itself quickly.

  • Raw honey heals externally. Honey is known for healing open-wound infections and burns.

  • Make honey your primary sweetener and you are sure to loose your extra weight, and gain energy.

  • Honey makes a great face mask! My sisters and I will rub raw honey on our faces to make our skin soft, or to heal our skin from acne. Let the honey sit on your skin for about 20 minutes. It washes off easily with warm water.

  • The combination of honey and cinnamon is one of those “cure-all” remedies. It is said to cure heart disease. For breakfast, I often eat a slice of homemade bread with raw butter, raw honey, and cinnamon on top (check out my picture above). It makes a very healthy and simple breakfast. It’s filling, and packed with lots of powerful nutrients to help me start out my day.

  • For a treat, you can always simply eat raw honey right off the spoon.  It’s a great snack, whether you’re sick or just feeling hungry.

Where do I find it?

You can find local raw honey in most health food stores. You can also order it online, but it won’t have pollen from plants in your area.

Tracking down a local bee farmer is your best option. You not only get the best quality honey for the best price, but you can build a relationship with your farmer while being in touch with where your honey comes from. (It’s always a comfort for me to know that my honey does not come from China and has not been messed with.) Here is a website of a small bee farmer in my area: www.fisherhoneybees.com.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Raw Milk Part 3

Nighttime snack... raw milk! (me and my brother)

I’ve talked about some of the benefits of raw milk in my previous two posts: Raw Milk Part 1 and Part 2. It’s amazing the difference milk in its pure, natural, raw form (not from cows that live in CAFOS and which are fed on genetically modified corn and soy, but raised on nutritious grass) can make in your health.

A testimony to the wonders of raw milk:
My Dad has been “lactose intolerant” for his whole life. He couldn’t eat any dairy products without feeling sick.
Unsurprisingly, he can drink raw milk with no problem!
About 2-3 years ago when we switched to raw milk, my mom had my dad drink fermented raw milk kefir to heal his gut and digestive system. Now he can enjoy raw milk, homemade ice cream, and anything else we make with milk.

For me, raw milk was one of the foods that helped me take control of my weight. Until my family switched to raw milk a couple years ago, I would only drink skim milk…
Food that has real substance, like raw milk, satisfies my body so that I don’t need to constantly deprive myself in order to stay in shape.

Where do I find it?

If you have not yet switched to raw milk, I encourage you to seek out a local farmer to find raw milk. Yes, raw milk is expensive compared to low quality milk. Small farmers who sell raw milk must sell their product for the cost, work, and time they put into farming. They can’t come close to competing with giant corporations. Small farmers have to put in a great deal of commitment and labor in order to produce such a high quality and nutritious product as grass-fed raw milk. If possible, sacrificing a little to fit real milk into your budget is well worth it. You can’t put a price on good health!

Here is a link that may be helpful in finding a source for raw milk: www.Realmilk.com.

If truly unable to afford/find raw milk, then it is best to limit drinking milk. However, cultured milk products (whole milk yoghurt, cream cheese, etc.) and butter are better alternative dairy products. Even when produced conventionally, these products are better for our bodies to digest and use. 

Wishing you all the best on your journey to better health!


Saturday, November 5, 2011

Raw Milk Part 2

Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon
Why is raw better?
This quote, regarding good clean raw milk, is taken from the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (I highly recommended it):

“Raw milk contains lactic-acid-producing bacteria that protect against pathogens. Pasteurization destroys these helpful organisms, leaving the finished product devoid of any protective mechanisms should undesirable bacteria inadvertently contaminate the supply. Raw milk in time turns pleasantly sour, while pasteurized milk, lacking beneficial bacteria, will putrefy.” (pg. 34).

Basically, pasteurization kills the milk. It kills the good bacteria that fight bad bacteria. Fallon goes on to explain how pasteurization results in a significant loss of vitamins in milk and minerals. For example, vitamin C is mostly lost after pasteurization, while vitamin B12 is completely destroyed—even the availability of calcium is reduced.

Pasteurization also destroys all the enzymes in milk. High heat kills enzymes. Enzymes are important because they are what help our bodies assimilate and digest nutrients in milk. Synthetic vitamins, which are often added back to commercial pasteurized milk, have their own list of problems and are difficult for our bodies to actually use.

Homogenization is another reason to buy milk from a small farmer and not from the grocery store. Homogenization is when powdered skim milk is added back to milk to create 1% or 2% milk. Commercial dehydrated milk is rancid and harmful to our bodies because it contains damaged cholesterol.  

Note: If you have to buy milk from the store, look for non-homogenized whole milk. Also, do not buy milk that says ultra-pasteurized. This is why you should also avoid organic pasteurized milk, because it is always ultra-pasteurized.

Why is whole milk better?
We need the whole food to digest it properly and absorb nutrients. Lactose (what many people can’t tolerate) is milk sugar. If we only drink skim milk without the milk fat we are not able to absorb the nutrients, and we are left with mostly milk sugar. Pasteurized skim milk is pretty much watery, dead, milk sugar. Cream in milk should be the most valued part. Our cells need animal fats to stay healthy and to function properly.

Besides all the health reasons, raw milk tastes great! : )

In my next post I will give a short testimony of how raw milk has helped me and my family.


Edit: This post is linked to Sunday School at Butter Believer, The Healthy Home Economist, and Raising Homemakers! : )

Friday, November 4, 2011

Raw Milk Part 1

"Not for human consumption!"

There is a lot of controversy over drinking grass-fed cow’s milk in its natural form. In some states it is completely illegal to sell, and many farms have been raided by the FDA. Other states, such as Florida, allow raw milk to be sold as pet food only. If one wishes to purchase a gallon of fresh raw milk, it will have the label “not for human consumption” clearly written on the container. Is raw milk really as dangerous as it’s made out to be?

Raw milk, raw butter, raw fermented dairy products, and raw cheeses are foods that have been eaten by people in cultures all over the world since… forever. The Bible even talks about the Promised Land of Israel being a land flowing with milk and honey. If God used those foods to describe a land he had blessed and chosen for his people, that should be saying something to Christians. In describing the richness of the land he wanted to bring his people to, God chose to use those foods which bring blessings and health to our bodies. 

Less than 100 years ago raw milk was still a regular part of the American diet. It hasn’t been until recent years that Western cultures labeled this wonderful super-food as “unsafe” and “fattening,” along with other sacred foods like butter and egg yolks. Processed foods now make up the majority of the American diet. Low-fat foods are considered “healthy.” Interestingly, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, liver problems, thyroid problems, digestive issues, allergies, difficult pregnancies, and infertility, to name a FEW of our modern sicknesses, have skyrocketed in just the past few generations. 100 years ago heart disease and cancer were very rare! Everyone needs medication (or many) nowadays, to help with all our problems.

Getting back to raw milk…. Let’s compare natural cow milk to CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) milk.

Cows should be fed green plants such as grass. This is what their bodies are designed to eat and what they thrive on. CAFO cows are fed exclusively grains and soy feed, which changes the milk protein. On the other hand, nutrients and vitamins found in the grass free-range cows eat are transformed into something humans can digest, which is milk. We are able to get the nutrients from the grass, but in a form our body can use. 

 Grass-fed dairy cows give 1-2 gallons of milk a day, but commercial cows give 3-4 times as much. They are fed growth hormones in order to produce so much watered down milk. The CAFO animals are given antibiotics because they are sickly. This is why conventional milk must be pasteurized. If milk is not produced from a clean and healthy cow in a clean and natural environment, drinking the milk raw will make you sick for sure! Commercial cows are not able to access the green grass they need to be healthy. This “grass-fed” aspect is important because healthy animals make healthy people and vise versa.

In my next post I will talk about the benefits of grass-fed raw milk in greater detail.