Learning About Eggs.
Last week, the very hospitable Hudson family invited a group of 12 bloggers and myself to visit their family farm and to learn all about eggs. My experience at Burnbrae Farms was absolutely amazing. It really opened my eyes to the way I’ve always thought the egg industry to be and how, as a consumer, have been making my buying decisions. You can also read my expectations, here.
We set off in the “party bus” (yes, literally a really cool party bus) and made our way to Lyn, Ontario. We had a light breakfast and of course, we had the pre-boiled eggs from Burnbrae Farms. Sue Hudson and Margaret Hudson joined us and on route to Lyn, we discussed everything we wanted to know about Burnbrae Farms, its history and egg facts.
I learned that Burnbrae Farms helps inner-city kids in Toronto by providing food for breakfast clubs. That eating an egg a day is actually really good for you and that we are all most likely deficient in essential fatty acids in our diets. Margaret is very educated in the business of eggs and nutrition. It was eye-opening to learn so many facts about eggs and nice to hear beautiful memories that she shared about life on the farm.
Fuel to Learn!
We arrived at the farm in Lyn and we were greeted with a feast! We were served savory salads (I chose the wedge) that were topped with eggs of course! We also enjoyed a delicious, flaky onion Quiche. There was also the option of fresh omelette with chorizo, cheese, veggies and more–all made to order.
Take the Tour!
After a delicious lunch, we were taken through a tour of their facilities. Walking through and seeing how are eggs are cleaned, “candled”, handled and packaged was pretty cool. Everything was very organized, the staff looked happy and most importantly, I was able to see that quality, safety and consumer health is very important to Burnbrae Farms.
I have always invested and purchased organic eggs that come from “free-run” or “cage-free” with the mentality that I was serving my family a “better” product that was cleaner, more eco-friendly and where the livestock had a better quality of life. I was intrigued and very interested in visiting Burnbrae Farms for this very reason.
I wanted to see the living conditions of the animals, to get the facts and to make a new informed decision or maintain the one I already had. I also must note, while I do care about animals, I believe that chickens are livestock, they are meant to provide the world with food. For me, buying organic and free run gave me a whisper of satisfaction that the animal had more space but, I am in no way an activist. It was more about the nutrition and quality of eggs that I give my family. Boy, did I learn though!
Conventional Housing Systems.
Eggs that are farmed this way are the cheapest in price, smallest eco-footprint and since hens that live in these housings are ins smaller groups, they show less aggression. Also, seeing that the animal’s waste falls onto a conveyor belt and is cleaned often is something that blew me away. The animal is never in contact with its own waste and this helps to better control the spread of disease. Not to mention, this barn house takes up less space and energy to run. Thus, it’s more environmentally friendly.
Enriched Colony Housing Systems.
This housing was surprising to me, since it definitely has the animal’s well-being in mind. These housings have all the same benefits of conventional but, with the added benefits of perches, nesting areas and more space. This helps with the overall health of the chicken since it is naturally inclined to nest. This provides the privacy and ability for them to lay their eggs as they would outside of one of these systems.
Free Run Housing Systems.
These were my ladies, my hens that provided the eggs that I serve in my house, that I bake with and that have always been in my home. While we were not allowed to touch the chickens, we were able to observe all three systems from behind glass. The purpose is to observe but, keep them healthy.
In the Free Run Housing system, I was surprised at the vast amount of them, they were all congregated in one area and the entire barn house was empty, all while they stayed in one area. The hens also looked slightly disheveled and that was due to the fact that the larger number in these much larger barn houses would leave the weaker hens susceptible to the more dominant and they would get pecked at. My biggest concern was that they had ample access to their own waste because they were free to roam where they pleased. Although Burnbrae Farms does very well at keeping any sickness away, there is always an increased risk.
Not to mention, these houses are using more space and more energy and not being used to its full capacity because the hens like to be altogether. Out of all 3 systems, this one has the highest carbon footprint.
Here’s the kicker.
An egg from a conventional housing system compared to an egg from a free run system have the exact same nutritional value. No more, no less. They are fed the same feed, although the organic producing hens are fed organic feed. All which result in a 100% protein, Omega 3 rich, delicious egg.
A Wealth of Knowledge.
After going through the tour and meeting the entire Hudson family, we were invited into the lovely Helen-Anne’s home as their guests. We we served a delicious dinner, dessert and drinks a plenty. We were able to take in the grounds and animals and just relax. They ended it with an amazing bonfire, complete with s’mores.
Sue Hudson is the amazing person behind their marketing team, she is gracious, down to earth and a pleasure to be around. She was kind enough to spend the afternoon with me before my late train and we went out to lunch. I appreciate her kindness and look forward to meeting again!
Helen-Anne was amazing and a gracious host, she loves animals and you can truly see that. To invite a group of rambunctious bloggers into her home was a feat but, she was ever so welcoming. Ted Hudson was our token gentleman and he was very kind and helpful.
Did I mention Grandma Joan was awesome? You can see her pictured below with my good friend Shannon, she joined us for lunch and she is so savvy and stylish, totally loved her! I just want to thank every single person who welcomed us with their hospitality and endowed us with their knowledge!
Learning About Eggs.
And so much more.
After learning about Burnbrae Farms, their practices, their different housings and their complete transparency with their consumers. I am proud to say that I am absolutely pleased and happy to feed my children and my family, ANY Burnbrae Egg. I was pleasantly surprised about the differences and very excited to see and hear about the innovations that are to come and the products that they will continue to provide, us, their consumers.
They have been awarded 13 times for the innovations in eggs that make eating better easier for Canadians. They provide choice and options for what the consumers want and need. They are the #1 egg producer in Canada and every egg cracked at McDonald’s is a Burnbrae egg, how cool is that?
Burnbrae Farms has “Doors Open” days where they welcome the public to take the tour as well and to see where their eggs are coming from. I encourage anyone who has the interest to take the tour and perhaps, your opinion will be changed like mine was. While I do appreciate a free run system, I am much more comfortable with buying eggs from a conventional system now. I also love the option to get Omega 3 enriched eggs and now know how they become this way!
There’s something refreshing about knowing where your food comes from and when you see it with your own eyes, it’s even better! Make sure to visit Burnbrae Farms for more information or hit @BurnbraeFarms on Twitter. They are an amazing bunch and I look forward to many more sunny egg-filled days to come!
What type of system would you like your eggs to come from?
Let me know, til then–cheers m’deres!
Note: I am participating in the Burnbrae Farms Blogger Farm Tour program as a guest of Burnbrae Farms. All opinions are 100% my own.
Nancy Polanco is a freelance journalist, lifestyle content creator, and editor of Whispered Inspirations. She is a proud Mom to Gabby and Michaela. Having worked as part of a health care team for almost a decade, Nancy is happy to be back to her passion. She is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TODAY’s Parents, and an Oprah Magazine Brand Ambassador.