One of the first animal protein sources we add back in our meals after Phase 1 is eggs. We used to think buying organic eggs at the local grocery store chain was adequate, even preferable. Then we learned a lot more about eggs. When possible, we buy eggs from our local farmer who brings them to the farmer’s market in Austin. We know this farmer and we are able to ask him if he’s feeding his hens GMO grains, or not (he’s not and was insulted when I even asked, but that’s Austin for you). When that is not possible, we buy pasture-raised, non-soy fed, organic eggs from Coyote Creek Farm in Elgin, TX. To find out where you can buy pasture-raised eggs, check www.eatwild.com.
“Cage-free eggs” has little to no meaning of significance. The hens can still be crowded in the factory farm’s barn with little room, and they are not eating what normal, healthy chickens need to eat to stay healthy or to produce healthy eggs. When I learned what the USDA considers to be cage-free, I laughed. Then I felt bad. The poor chickens! If you want to know more about the various designations and what they actually mean, visit www.humanesociety.org.
We also learned a little bit more about how eggs are processed and brought to market in the USA. After being removed from the cages, the eggs must be washed and sanitized, as mandated by the USDA. This washing and sanitization removes the natural protective layer of the egg, called the cuticle, which is perfectly designed to protect the egg from bacterial contamination.
You see, eggshells are porous, and the cuticle seals the eggs so that they are less likely to absorb anything after being laid. While the USDA classifies egg washing and de-staining compounds as potential food additives, because they may be absorbed into the egg itself, the FDA has no published regulations for the egg producers to follow. Some states even require that the eggs be coated with vegetable or mineral oil, a petroleum product, before being sold. If you’ve ever had trouble getting egg whites to form peaks when beaten, you may be in one of these states!
In the EU, it is illegal to wash the eggs at all before selling them. They think there seems to be more risk of contamination when the cuticle is stripped away by our fervent washing. Gee, sounds pretty reasonable to me. And truly, you are not going to be ridding the eggs of all possible Salmonella by fervent washing and sterilization since the bacteria is harbored in the hen’s reproductive tract and can actually be inside the egg, not only on the shells. US hens are not typically immunized against Salmonella – EU hens are.
Larger organic famers usually use a non-toxic, organic USDA-approved wash and sterilization solution. If the farmer has less than 3000 hens, they are not held to these regulations. They may dry brush their eggs or use a gentle washing method that does not compromise the cuticle.
Yummy for Your Tummy
Egg whites, in particular, are a very clean source of protein. They are easy for us to metabolize and they are fat-free and low in calories. There are no rules about how to prepare them. We feel that, unless you are buying your eggs from a reliable source, you should cook them and not eat them raw because of the potential to be exposed to Salmonella. Another reason for cooking egg whites is that they contain biotin, a B vitamin we need, but are avidin, which binds the biotin and keeps it from being metabolized in our bodies. Heating the egg deactivates the avidin and releases the biotin so we can assimilate it.
There are a few important things to know about egg yolks. The dietary cholesterol eggs are known for is contained in the yolk. While dietary cholesterol is not something to be concerned about with the Misner Plan foods, if you have high cholesterol, you will not want to be eating two or three yolks per day. We do not eat more than five yolks each per week, personally. When Ivan had active cancer in the prostate, he did not eat egg yolks at all. They are high in Omega 6 fat or arachidonic acid (AA). AA has been linked in some studies to the production of higher levels of prostaglandin E2, which research has shown stimulates cancer cell proliferation. If there is any inflammatory condition present in the body, the higher levels of AA can be problematic.
We eat soft-boiled or poached eggs with the yolks still runny. We also eat scrambled egg whites and gently set one egg yolk in the middle of each portion before taking the pan off the heat source so that it will be heated enough to deactivate the avidin, which is also present in the yolks. If I use a raw egg in a smoothie, I run it under hot water from the tap for about one minute before breaking into the blender. I do bake with eggs now when they are needed in a recipe, and if a flax egg can be substituted (such as in a pancake recipe), I use it instead. When Ivan’s cancer was active, I baked with egg whites only.