I got to Tuesday night before I succumbed to take-out. And I didn’t even take pictures of the takeout for the blog, so essentially double-failure.
On a positive note, I got more eggs from my co-worker and remembered to make pictures. I love the difference in the shape and coloring.
I also realized that the egg yolks look a little different from each other.
The lighter egg shells, surprisingly have a darker yolk. The darker, speckled eggs have egg yolks that look at lot more like the ones you can buy in any grocery store (the broken yolk, in the pictures).
Each cartoon is $3, which is just under what I used to pay at the grocery store for Nellie’s Cage Free eggs. I was interested in the process eggs go through – conventional and organic/cage-free/free-range ones; i.e., what happens from when they’re collected from the hens to when you pick them out in the store.
I found this graphic on a food-safety site:
It’s a very simplified flow-chart, but gives you an overall idea of the steps.
With a little more research, I found there are two main processes: in-line and off-line. In-line processing is when the eggs are processed at the same location they were produced, an example of vertical integration. This is apparently the most efficient method, and the egg handling and processing if primarily performed by automated equipment. In our last class, we saw this with the hens’ eggs seeming to fall into a shoot where they were directed to another location.
In contrast, off-line processing occurs separate from the production facility. The eggs are taken to “satellite” farms, and again processed using automated equipment.
Below is a picture comparing in-line processing vs. off-line processing.
There are several ways to ensure egg quality during all the processing. Egg collection should apparently occur several times a day. The eggs are usually kept cool, cleaned, and put into clean packing materials.
My friend who sold me her eggs also collects several times a day. She has a rooster, but said they are kept in separate areas, and are not allowed into the hen house to ensure the eggs don’t get fertilized.
In contrast to the industrialized processing method, my friend does not clean the eggs. She told me that there is a protective layer on the eggs from the hens and that by removing that, you drastically shorten the egg’s “shelf-life”. She told me not to wash the eggs until just before I use them, but that she sometimes doesn’t even bother to wash them at all. Since using the eggs, I’ve forgotten to wash them the first few times; so far nothing horrible has happened.
Going back to the egg processing – I found out they do something called ‘candling’ which involves holding an egg up to a light source for visual inspection. Apparently the look for blood spots and double yolks. I think this is a good example of how homogenous most people expect their food to be. Since we’re so removed from the process of gathering and preparing food, we think all eggs will look the same, i.e., same shade, no blemishes, or blood clots, things that are perfectly natural and happen regularly. I also found it annoying that they take out doubly yolks, because there’s nothing more awesome than cracking open an egg and realizing it could have been chicken-twins.