I am Sue Berliner, a.k.a. the SWEAT Princess and publisher of SWEAT Magazine, Arizona's Sports and Fitness Resource. My mission is providing information and inspiration for a healthier life.
The unmarked budget truck pulled into the parking lot at 40th Street and Indian School in Phoenix. The drivers of several cars strategically parked near the truck. I pulled into the parking lot, wearing big dark sunglasses and a cap.
A tall and thin blond haired young man stepped down from the driver’s side of the truck. A woman with flowing silver-grey shoulder length hair exited from the passenger side. As they rounded the back of the truck and started to lift the roll up rear door, people emerged from their cars.
The first time I purchased pastured grass fed beef, chicken, lamb and eggs from Anya and Josh, it felt like a drug deal.
Josh would pull a bag of frozen meats from one of the 15 cubic feet freezers or large coolers that filled the truck. Name tags hung from each bag indicating whose order it was. Anya reviewed the order sheet, pulled the appropriate number of cartons of eggs and adjusted the total for any additions or deletions based on product availability.
Like an addict, I was hooked after my first sunny-side-up taste of their eggs from Josh’s Foraging Fowls. The perky and vibrant yellow-orange yolk catches you by surprise. It screams nutritious and explodes with flavor. I hate to burst your yolk, conventional or “free range” eggs just do not measure up.
In 2007 Mother Earth News tested 14 flocks of chicken from around the country that ranged freely on pastures or are housed in moveable pens that are rotated frequently to maximize access to fresh pastures and protect the birds from predators. Cheryl Long and Tabitha Alterman reported on the findings in a feature titled Meet Real Free Range Eggs in Mother Earth.
The two reports said free range hens basically stay near their food, water and nests. The picture of fowl pecking across a field is far from reality. Claims of free range only means hens have access to the outdoors. While more expensive, the nutrient content is the same as other eggs.The USDA defines free range as allowed to access the outside. Meaning producers can, and do, label their eggs as free range, even if all they do is leave little doors open on a giant shed. That is regardless of whether the birds learn to go outside, there is pasture, bare dirt or concrete outside those doors.
If it is the middle of July in Arizona and someone leaves a door open for you, are you going outside? I am not.
Here is what they learned about pastured (or real free-range) versus other eggs:
- . 1/3 less cholesterol
- . 1/4 less saturated fat
- . 2/3 more vitamin A
- . 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- . 3 times more vitamin E
- . 7 times more beta carotene
Why the difference?
They attributed the dramatically differing nutrient levels to diets. True free-range birds eat their natural diet: a variety of seeds, green plants, insects and worms, usually along with grain or laying mash. Factory farm birds never go outdoors or forage. They eat the cheapest mixture of corn, soy and/or cottonseed meals, with all kinds of additives.
The same came be said for grass fed beef and lamb. When compared to conventional meats, they provide more good fats, and fewer bad fats. They are richer in antioxidants and are a great source for hard to find vitamin B12. And most important, they do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics or other drugs.
I stumbled upon Anya, Josh and the A Bar H Farms when sourcing pastured eggs. At the time I ate red meat but rarely bought it. Now, I buy and eat beef or lamb two to four times a week. I keep the portion size small about three to four ounces. I buy a variety of cuts and experiment with different preparation methods.
Their farms are located in the high desert of Southeastern Arizona. They deliver to Phoenix, flagstaff and Tucson about every six weeks and have several convenient pick up spots in each community. On an average delivery day to Phoenix they deliver about 2500 pounds of meat to an average of 200-300 customers.
It is affordable and you get more nutrition for your dollar. Cuts range from about $5-$18 per pound. Pastured eggs cost $4.25 a dozen, about the same as organic not really “free range.” Though no drugs are included, you will have to buy those elsewhere.
To learn more about A Bar H Farms and grass fed and pastured products visit:
A Bar H Farms
Meet Real Range Free Eggs
PS: Since first writing this article in May 2010, Josh and Anya have shifted Chiracahua Pasture Raised Meats at cprmeats.com. May 28, 2011.