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Egg-stra! Egg-stra!

Read all about…eggs

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Egg-stra! Egg-stra!

An egg is truly a marvel of evolution. Nature designed it to provide food for the growing embryo inside it, and humans have embraced it as a dietary staple. Ancient civilizations as diverse as Greece, India, and Egypt gave it a place in their cultures as a symbol of creation and fertility.

An egg is truly a marvel of evolution. Nature designed it to provide food for the growing embryo inside it, and humans have embraced it as a dietary staple. Ancient civilizations as diverse as Greece, India, and Egypt gave it a place in their cultures as a symbol of creation and fertility.

Eggs are unmatched when it comes to nutritional value. Because an egg is a whole food, it is easily digested; fats in the yolk aid in assimilation of the proteins in the whites. Chicken eggs are rated highest in terms of net protein utilization by the human body.

Cost-wise, eggs represent one of the best values for your food dollar compared to other forms of protein. Unlike legumes, another protein bargain, eggs contain all the essential amino acids we require.

The Business of Eggs

Eggs are laid by a variety of birds, but the most commonly consumed today are from chickens and ducks. What was once a simple reflection of farming life with a few chickens in the yard providing eggs for the family is now a billion-dollar business in Canada.

The Safety of Eggs

Inspectors from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) monitor egg grading and processing plants to ensure safety standards are met.

The CFIA and the Canadian Egg Marketing Agency (CEMA) have established the “Start clean-Stay clean” program which is designed to ensure egg producers meet international safety standards at all steps of the process.

Nutritional Information for One Boiled Egg

  • 5.6 g fat (1.6 g saturated)
  • 215 mg cholesterol
  • 75 calories
  • 5.5 g protein (about 12 percent regular daily intake/RDI)

A rich source of:

  • B vitamins (including choline–important for nerve transmission and reducing inflammatory process)
  • Vitamins K, D, and A
  • Tryptophan
  • Selenium
  • Iodine
  • Antioxidants such as lutein (important for eye health)

Industry Figures

  • Annual - 16 dozen eggs a year per person
  • Production - 29 million hens from registered producers laid 536 million eggs in 2006
  • Uses - 70% of production in Canada used for fresh for table; 30% used in value-added foods and processed forms such as liquid, frozen, and dried
  • Imported - 21 million dozen eggs or egg products (mainly from US)
  • Exported - equivalent to imports, mainly processed forms

Industry Terms

Organic-from hens raised under certified organic guidelines and fed only organic feed

Free range-from hens who have access to nesting boxes, open floor space, perches, and outdoor runs; may or may not be certified organic

Free-run-from birds that are allowed to roam in an enclosed facility; may or may not be certified organic

Omega-3-from birds raised on feed enriched with flaxseed as an EFA source; may or may not be organic

Battery-raised-hens raised in small cages under constant artificial lighting to stimulate egg production (average battery hen lays between 250 to 300 eggs a year); fed nonorganic feed that can contain GMOs and pesticide residues; treated with antibiotics to prevent diseases that can flourish in over-crowded conditions

Brown vs. white-egg shell colour is determined by the breed of hen; the nutritional value is the same

Grading

  • The Canada Grade A designation on an egg carton means consumer grade eggs that are clean, free of cracks or leaks, and are safe for human consumption.
  • Eggs are graded at registered grading stations to ensure industry standards are met.
  • They are then weighed and sorted according to their size.

Sizing

  • Jumbo 70 g or more
  • Extra large at least 63 g
  • Large at least 56 g
  • Medium at least 49 g
  • Small at least 42 g
  • Pee wee less than 42 g

Pricing

  • Egg pricing is set by CEMA (Canadian Egg Marketing Agency), a national marketing board operating under provincial government authority.
  • Prices are based on provincial costs for feed and operations as well as pricing in neighbouring provinces.

Buying

  • Check best-before date on carton.
  • Check each egg for cracking or breakage.
  • For cooking purposes, the fresher the egg the better.

Storing

  • Always keep eggs refrigerated (avoid storing in refrigerator door) and discard any that have cracked shells.
  • Store in original egg carton.
  • Use by best-before date.

Cooking

Poached

Crack egg gently into a teacup or small container then slide it into a large perforated spoon to drain off the runny part of the whites; add egg to pan of water close to, but not at, a boil

Scrambled

Keep pan temperature low and stir constantly for a creamy texture; be patient and remove eggs while still slightly underdone as residual heat will continue to cook them; if using watery ingredients such as mushrooms, cook them separately, drain on paper towel and add to eggs as they are setting

Hard or Soft Boiled

Add vinegar to water before immersing eggs to avoid cracking; keep water at a gentle simmer–avoid boiling

Peeling a Cooked Egg

Fresh eggs have sticky shells while older ones peel off more easily due to internal moisture loss; if you plan on boiling eggs, then look to that carton that’s been in your fridge for a week rather than one fresh from the store

Eggs and Cholesterol Worries

Egg consumption declined in the 1960s and 70s as some medical reports linked high cholesterol levels in the diet to heart disease. Recent studies indicate food cholesterol does not raise blood cholesterol levels as previously thought; saturated fats raise blood levels more than cholesterol itself.

Most of the fat in eggs is not saturated. People with heart health concerns should still exercise caution around consumption of fatty foods. These concerns led the food industry to create products such as cholesterol-free eggs made up of egg whites and vegetable oil-based yolk substitutes.

Recipes

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