Local Food Focus
Jackson County offers a wide variety of local foods from its 245 farmers. Cooperative Extension supports local foods by asking consumers to spend 10% of their food budget on local foods. With North Carolinians spending $34 Billion on food annually, we as consumers can keep 3.4 billion here at home by following the 10% rule.
Eggs will be our local food focus today, as they are an excellent source of protein and only contain 80 calories. The Ancient Egyptians first died eggs to celebrate the Spring Equinox and Ancient Chinese also used fresh eggs.
Today, the average American consumes 250 eggs per person and we still dye eggs to celebrate spring.
North Carolina ranks 11th in the nation for egg production with 9 million birds laying 11.5 million per day. This interesting statistic deduces that there is 1 chicken per man, woman, and child in North Carolina.
Many time we are asked at the Extension office if there is a difference in white and brown eggs. The answer is no, nutritionally the eggs offer the same nutrients. Hens with brown ear lobes and feather lay brown eggs and hens with white feathers and ear lobes lay white eggs. Next Spring if you have not tried dying the brown eggs do so, you may enjoy the rich earth tone color they provide.
Many grocery stores in North Carolina have fresh eggs within 24 hours of the hen laying the egg. Hens begin producing eggs they become sexually mature at 18 weeks. Before they are mature they are referred to as pullets.
When purchasing local free range eggs – food safety should be your concern. According to Dr. Ben Chapman, Food Safety Specialist at NC State University; eggs should be refrigerated within 36 hours of the hen laying the egg. Eggs should be clean and free of manure. When washing fresh eggs water should be tepid so that bacteria enter the porous shell.
Eggs are graded small, medium, and large many recipes require large eggs are the best buy for the grams of protein and mile high meringues.
Omelets make a fast breakfast or dinner. You will need an 8″ sauté pan treated with pan spray over medium heat, to 3 beaten eggs, add 2 tablespoons of water or milk to make your omelet fluffy, pour egg mixture in the hot pan, leave undisturbed in the pan until the eggs begin to develop a skin, then begin lifting the eggs around the edges with a spatula. Continue lifting until the eggs are dry and add your favorite ingredients to ½ of the eggs. Fold the other half over the ingredients (onions, ramps, tomatoes, bacon, and cheese), plate, and enjoy. You may even enjoy your omelet topped with your favorite salsa.
For additional information and recipes please contact me, Sherrie Peeler at the Jackson County Extension Center 828 586 4009.