Surprising egg industry facts
Eggs are one of the most widely-used and versatile foods in existence.
Iowa is America’s Top Egg-Producing State
Nearly 15 billion eggs are produced in Iowa every year, with the egg industry employing about 8,000 workers. Other top egg-producing states include Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
The Most Common Breed of Egg-Laying Chicken is the White Leghorn
The breed was first imported to America in 1828 from the Italian port city of Livorno; leghorn is an anglicization of the city’s name. (Fans of the old Loony Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons may remember the strutting, stentorian rooster Foghorn J. Leghorn.)
Only 1.8 Percent of Eggs are Laid in Organic Conditions
We all want to eat more organic foods, presumably, but in fact a very small percentage of eggs are produced in accordance with the USDA National Organic Program standards, and these eggs cost about twice as much as standard eggs. In order to be certified organic, the hens can’t be treated with any hormones or antibiotics, and their feed can’t contain any genetically modified ingredients or any ingredients treated with pesticides or herbicides, and can’t be grown with fertilizers that contain chemical or synthetic additives.
One Leghorn Produces About 280 Eggs Per Year
Leghorns are lightweight and mature quickly, and also don’t brood (sit on top of the eggs and behave threateningly toward all who approach), so they’re perfectly suited to egg production. Some produce up to 320 eggs per year. Hens start laying eggs at 19 weeks, and as they get older, the eggs grow in size; the largest eggs are called Jumbo (30 ounces per dozen), while the smallest are called pee-wee (15 ounces per dozen).
They’re Loaded with Vitamins and Minerals
While they may be high in cholesterol, eggs are a lot more than just that and protein. They also contain antioxidants that help with eye health (lutein and zeaxanthin), vitamins A, B12, D, riboflavin, folate, and phosphorous, and an essential nutrient called choline, which helps with brain function.