Do you routinely wash your eggs before you break them and cook them? I certainly don’t, and that is why I was so baffled when, after visiting a local farm and walking away with a dozen fresh eggs, the farmer said, “you might want to rinse those off before using them.” Huh? I had never really thought to “rinse” my eggs, but I popped open the cardboard carton and saw 12 beautifully-shaped brown eggs with little flecks of hay and barnyard detritus on them. The farmer essentially said there was nothing on the eggs that would kill me, but hey, they have been sitting in a barn and among chickens, neither the brightest nor the cleanest animals on the farm. So, I did indeed rinse my eggs.
Granted most consumers get their eggs, not from the farm, but from the supermarket where they have been mechanically packed into Styrofoam cartons and seemingly rid of any semblance of farm life. But according to a report released by The Humane Society yesterday, which consisted of an undercover investigation into Kreider Farms, a major factory farm that produces 4.5 million eggs each day for supermarkets like ShopRite, those pristine white eggs fall far short of being clean – inside and out. In the investigation, as first reported by New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, The Humane Society uncovers fetid workplace conditions and numerous health code violations, in addition to multiple instances of extreme animal cruelty. Some of the filthy conditions uncovered include mice running down egg conveyer belts, barn floors thick with flies, manure and eggs testing positive for salmonella, and stifling levels of ammonia in the air.
It should be noted that last year (2011), the main egg industry trade association, United Egg Producers, in an unlikely union, joined forces with the Humane Society of the United States in an agreement to support new federal standards that would provide more space for hens and getting rid of those objectionable battery cages. However, Kreider Farms (the subject of the investigation) is conveniently not a member of the United Egg Producers, and therefore not bound to the new standards.
So even if you were to wash these conventional eggs with soap and water, then rinse in vinegar (which may help, but probably not) attaining that pure egg nutrition will be next to impossible.
Knowing what we all know about factory farms that maintain substandard conditions for hens and employees, have you sworn off conventional eggs? If you have gone local or organic, can you tell the difference? And lastly, does anyone else wash his or her eggs?