HOME > Chowhound > Ontario (inc. Toronto) >

Discussion

HELP! trying not to travel too far for cage-free eggs..impossible dream?

  • i

Hello
I am seeking cage-free eggs. I normally only ever see true cage-free free roaming eggs from Hope ECO-Farms at Big Carrot and Brickworks evergree.
It is killing me to commute there, especially in the winter.

Are these anywhere closer to Yonge & Lawrence, organic wasteland? (We managed to kill the first organic grocery store here in record time because people would not support them.).
thanks!
Idas

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
    1. re: crawfish

      Culinarium carries the "Small Flocks Delight" eggs, this is a cooperative started by a number of farmers in south west Ontario to pool their resources and operate a grading station so they can sell their eggs in stores and not be limited to the farm gate but I don't know if the are fully cage free.

      1. re: bytepusher

        I too am interested in eggs from cage-free roaming hens. Eco-farm is a co-operative of 3 farms. Small Flocks Delight eggs are apparently from Hope Eco Farms. You could always call them to find out how the hens are raised:

        HOPE Eco Farm (Franz Seeberger Family)
        10737 Walker Road, Aylmer • 519-765-1031, ext.3

        HOPE Eco Farm (Ira Stoll Family)
        50521 Glencolin Line, Aylmer • 519-765-1031, ext.1

        HOPE Eco Farm (Mervin Miller Family)
        52013 Glencolin Line, Aylmer • 519-765-1031, ext. 4

        1. re: Flexitarian

          I'm curious about Small Flocks as I do buy them....

      1. re: prima

        I'm gonna visit the Hope Eco Farms in the spring to see how these hens are really raised. I don't mind paying a premium for what I think these eggs are but I want to know that that is indeed what I am getting. I'll report my findings.

        1. re: Flexitarian

          i just found this on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2sWyK...
          if you do still visit, i'd be interested to know whether the video accurately reflects what you see!

          also thanks Idas for the original post, i was wondering the same thing recently about where to find cage-free eggs

          1. re: Flexitarian

            I like you. You do all my legwork for me.

            This is VERY appreciated.

            Please report back in the Spring, Flexitarian. I'm sure we'll all benefit from your fantastic effort.

              1. re: Idas

                Me also! I don't mind paying a premium either. A member of the Toronto Vegetarian Association once suggested I get my own chicken (as a pet) who could produce eggs for me since then no harm no... foul.

            1. re: Flexitarian

              I did a taste test this weekend. I bought Costco's Burnbrae eggs and then went to The Big Carrot and bought Hope Eco-Farms' 'Small Flock's Delight Brown Eggs from Hens on Green Grass'. No doubt the Burnbrae eggs are raised in the most factory/industrial way with caged hens. The Small Flock's, although labelled as being from hens on green grass, does say in small print on the carton that in the winter 'dried legume provided and lots of loose litter.

              I soft boiled both eggs so I could taste them as unadulterated as possible (and it's also my favourite way to consume an egg). Maybe it is the fact that it's the winter and Small Flock's hens aren't running around outside and foraging on fresh grass and other things they can find, but I found the Small Flock's eggs only very slightly more flavourful and that was only in the yolk, not the egg white. And the colour of the yolks were very similar. Also, since one egg was brown and one white I wasn't sure if I was biased knowing which was which. Maybe I'll have to prepare them without the shell to remove this bias.

              Now I know that taste isn't the only reason to buy Eco-Farms' eggs, as their hens are raised much more humanely, but it is one of the major differences I was looking for.

              I am going to try the taste test again in the spring to see if eggs hens raised on mostly grass taste any different. Has anyone had a different experience with 'winter' eggs?

              1. re: Flexitarian

                To me, I could give a sh!t about how they taste (well that's a bit dramatic but you get my drift). Insofar as this product is concerned what truly matters to me is how they are treated.

                Taste is always important to me of course, but in this case it's mainly about the bird's quality of life as well as the environmental and even socio-economic benefits smaller flocks help foster.

                1. re: magic

                  Maybe it's the Chinaman in me, but taste trumps all. I'm not going to pay $6 for a carton that tastes not much different than Burnbrae. If taste is taken care of, the other things fall into place accordingly (living conditions, animal welfare). Taste = numero uno.

                  I buy Homestead Farms eggs usually, labelled as free run (they're ok). When lucky sometimes I get these eggs a farmer sells on the side since they're not licensed, their private stash. Highly illegal, but man are these the only eggs I've ever had in Ontario that brings back memories of uber rich yolks in Asia. It tastes like the chickens eat a lot of nasty critters, delicious.

                  I do my egg purchasing at Fiesta and Gasparro's.

                    1. re: aser

                      Actually it wasn't $6/carton. The costs were as follows:

                      18 Burnbrae Farms eggs from Costco - $3.69 = 20.5 cents/egg
                      12 Small Flocks eggs from The Big Carrot - $8.49/12 = 70.75 centsegg

                      So, Small Flocks was 50 cents more per eggs or 3.45 times as much. I didn't expect them to taste more than 3 times better but something up to twice as good. Now I have to do some soul searching about buying these eggs in the winter to support the living conditions of the hens.

                      1. re: Flexitarian

                        I'm 99% certain the small flock eggs are $6.50 at Fiesta. I've also seen them at around that price at Qi health food stores.

                        For the record, I've had small flock eggs before. I just don't taste any value in them when compared to other free run/free range eggs that are in the $4-5 range. I buy those instead. I feel there should be incentive for farmers to produce a better tasting product. I reward their efforts with my wallet. I admire their ethics but at the end of the day I don't feel we should put up with average quality eggs (taste wise) at double the costs. It's done easily in many different parts of the world, why is it so hard to achieve in Ontario? Why are the illegal eggs I get for $5 far superior to these?

                        To expand on the taste philosophy. If something tastes good, it's most likely the animals were raised with care. I highly doubt a stressed/confined animal would yield tasty meat/eggs/dairy. So again, taste is my number one barometer.

                        Big Carrot is friggin expensive.

                        This entire thread can be summed up by "first world problems".

                        1. re: aser

                          I'm not sure that treating animals with compassion should be a first world problem. Not sure what you mean by that.

                          It's a problem. Pure and simple. And it has global environmental, social, health, and political implications. I hope you're not diminishing this issue as one only the privileged cares about.

                          And even if that were true, thinking of this as a first world problem is a problem in itself.

                          1. re: magic

                            Us complaining about the quality of our eggs = first world problems aka http://whitewhine.com

                            1. re: aser

                              Ahh. I get it. Like "champagne problems". Gotcha.

                        2. re: Flexitarian

                          Fiesta Farms has a sale on Small Flock now for $6.29

                          $8.49 is steep. Even for me. I find Big Carrot crazy expensive.

                          There's a place in north St. Lawrence Market building (west side of building) that usually has them for $6.49.

                          1. re: magic

                            The place that sells Small Flock for $6.49 in St. Lawrence Market is called Golden Orchard - top level, west side. Near the pizza place.

                            1. re: magic

                              Another reason to visit the St. Lawrence! thank you Magic.

                      2. re: magic

                        I'm with you on this one magic. We made a decision a few years ago to avoid mass farmed anything as much as we possibly can. Well I know I'm only one person making small choices, those choices matter much more to me than the cost or the slight difference in taste.

                        1. re: JennaBean

                          Exactly. I'm paying more than double for a product that I honestly cannot sense a taste difference in, when compared to industro-eggs.

                          But to me, knowing that I'm supporting something that goes far beyond taste alone makes the cost worth it. For me at least.

                      3. re: Flexitarian

                        I get free run farm gate eggs for $2 per dozen, but I had to move to SW Ontario for this bounty. They are still rich and flavorful in winter, but better in spring. The hens can go out any time to get scraps, bugs, seeds, or grass. The photo is from December.
                        I encourage anyone interested to develop a farm gate itinerary on your days off.

                         
                         
                  1. I've bought eggs farmgate off several Brampton farms for a few years. I''ve resigned myself to skipping them in the winter since there's no taste premium. It's become a seasonal thing for me.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Kagemusha

                      Care to share where I could go in the summer in Brampton to get these eggs?

                      1. re: Flexitarian

                        I toyed with the idea of just having to get my own chicken...though in my neck of the city the peeps would have a COW. My parents (still at Keele and Wilson) used to have them when I was a little girl. Those were some damn good eggs.
                        Thanks to everyone for the interesting comments and incredible research. I got eggs from Culinarium yesterday. Taste differences or not, the karma of that egg sits best in my stomach and worthy of a financial sacrifice for me.
                        Just a side note, egg colour in my mind is been obliterated because farmers can doctor the egg colour with marigold petals in feed so esthetics aside, IMHO a good egg comes from a good farm. You people ROCK. I love ya's.

                    2. I thought loblaws sold free range chicken eggs..??!!??

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: KraTToR

                        Unfortunately I understand that "Free-range" doesn't mean humane. By definition by the Ontario Egg Farmers association, all Free-Range means is this: A production system where hens have access to the outdoors.
                        This access hatch can be pathetically small and unreasonable for the number of hens in that particular egg production factory.
                        My lay-person (no pun intended ) assumption of the Egg definition mean "access to outdoors " does not certify that the hens are not at times caged.

                        http://www.getcracking.ca/Farmers/PDF...
                        There is also a lot of information on chowhound on the egg issue.
                        Id

                      2. For an update on this interesting discussion: for those looking for new outlets, Galati's on Leslie north of Finch (Pickle Barrel Plaza) has been selling Small Flocks Delight for several years. I switched from Longo's to Galati's just to buy them, because my own taste test (as a lifelong eggoholic) found them vastly superior even to other organic eggs. They carefully say they aren't organic becUse their feed willpower haven't all been certified yet, but their taste comes closest to the eggs of the foraging chickens at the homesteads of my friends in Kenya.

                        And Newsflash! Galati's has just started selling duck eggs from the same Mennonite cooperative that produces Small Flocks Delight. I've waited forever to be able to buy them in North York -- ever since I fell for their taste and texture in Indonesia many years ago. If you want pure Egginess, get to Galati's for them! (and also check the Internet for the wonderful images and stories about the Balinese and their ducks. . .)

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Eggoholic

                          Eggoholic, you made me crave for the preserved/salted (blue) duck eggs from Indonesia. I've tried various preserved/salted eggs from asian supermarkets, none come close to the taste of those blue eggs.

                          1. re: Eggoholic

                            Eggo, I must give Small Flock another try. Few months ago I bought a box from the same Galati ( saw it in other grocers as well) attracted by how the hens were raised and fed.

                            I was "disappointed" by the taste. Not much difference from the others: farmers markets, organic, free range/run eggs that I have tried. Also its yolks were not much different: bright yellow, not the darker stronger coloured yellow bordering on orangy which I prefer. ( I understand that some say that colour of the yolk depends on the type of feed.)

                            I want to emphasis that my experience is based solely on taste and visual and would love to know which egg source/ brand is the most nutritious ( esp organic, free range/run) amongst those commonly found in the marketplace/grocers.

                            Thanks for the tip about the duck eggs.

                          2. We have 18 hens that free range for a portion of the day and have a large cage and large coop to move back and forth between. Have you the room/inclination to keep a few hens? The eggs can't be beat. None of those runny whites and pale yolks when you crack open an egg.