Fresh Eggs: Do Happier Chickens Produce Better Eggs? | Midwest Living
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Fresh Eggs: Do Happier Chickens Produce Better Eggs?

At a free-range chicken farm in Missouri - and the kitchens of chefs who love the eggs - we learned why cooks are flocking to locally grown eggs.

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    The chicken and the egg both come first for Jay Maddick
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Marketing eggs - and a lifestyle

At Campo Lindo, Jay and Carol gather their inventory of tawny brown eggs twice a day from hundreds of straw nests. While it's hard to imagine tending 3,000 laying hens as a labor of love, the Maddicks (who married shortly after meeting at the University of Missouri) market their lifestyle as much as their eggs, dressed chickens and grass-fed beef and lamb.

"We print it on our egg cartons," Carol says, pointing to the words: "Eggs from hens that live in a pasture on a real family farm in Lathrop." Campo Lindo's cartons are a distinctive pink (daughter Isabel's favorite color) with green lettering (son Brandon's favorite).

"People buy them because they prefer a local product," says Steve Schwarz, Whole Foods assistant dairy manager in Overland Park, Kansas. "Carol puts notes in cartons about what's going on at the farm. I'm often asked how they treat their hens, and I say, 'Oh, they just love their chickens. Carol refers to them as her 'ladies.' "

Eggs are often called the perfect food. They contain essential amino acids and high-quality protein. Eggs' well-known cholesterol content is less of a problem than previously thought. In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School discount any connection between eating eggs and developing heart disease.

Mounting evidence, including two studies done at Penn State University, suggests that pastured eggs are even higher in certain vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids and amino acids than eggs from industrial-scale operations (a claim disputed by the National Egg Board).

Almost no one disputes that the free-range eggs from Campo Lindo ("beautiful country" in the Spanish of Carol's native Chile) taste terrific and make customers feel good. Who doesn't want to eat eggs laid by happy hens? "People notice. They yell out their car windows at me: 'I love your eggs!' " Carol says with a laugh.

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