Reflections on a Juice Cleanse

Hello friends. As you may know, recently Mr. HP celebrated a milestone birthday, and with that came a month-long food and drink binge for the entire extended family.

pain killers

Add to that the horribly depressing winter weather we had until early April in Virginia, and you get a few people in a state of suboptimal health.

Accordingly, in late March, the ever-adventurous Cheenius, always-obliging MrDr Cheenius, and I decided to do a juice cleanse after the final birthday party to kickstart a new era of good feelings. Fortunately for us, Charlottesville is home to The Juice Laundry, an organic, cold-pressed juice company that offers several types of cleanses to the Central Virginia area. We chose a medium-strength 2-day cleanse, but a wrench was thrown into our juicing plans by a nasty snowstorm that interrupted juice production, delaying juice delivery by a couple days. The new schedule didn’t suit my plans, so the Cheeniuses forged on alone.

Day 1 for the Cheeniuses was a bit rough as their abused systems angrily complained, but by Day 2 they were flying high. I believe the word “magical” was used when they raved to me about feeling the toxins leaving their bodies, and they plan to do a reset cleanse quarterly. Based on their reviews, I eagerly scheduled my cleanse for the following week. Below are my notes.

WHAT

The Juice Laundry 2-day “Normal Wash” cycle. 6 juices + 1 NOMÜ nut milk drink per day. I chose the Creamy Cashew NOMÜ.

Normal Wash juices are:

  • Gentle Green: kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, apple
  • Red Load-ed: red pepper, carrot, celery, cucumber, lemon
  • Rinse + Refresh: cucumber, grapefruit, pineapple
  • Green Agitator: kale, spinach, cucumber, celery, apple, parsley, ginger, lemon
  • Rinse + Recharge: filtered water, lemon, pineapple, maple syrup, cayenne pepper
  • Gentle Green: kale, spinach, cucumber, grapefruit, apple
  • NOMÜ: Creamy Cashew: filtered water, cashews, Medjool dates, cinnamon, vanilla bean, Himalayan pink salt

A cup of black coffee is allowed, but I abstained during my cleanse for the full detox effect.

WHY

From the Juice Laundry’s site:

Juice consumption allows your overworked digestive system to devote more energy to detoxifying, cleansing, purifying, and healing your body and strengthening your immune system.

The Juice Laundry cold-presses and doesn’t pasteurize its juices in order to maximize nutrients and beneficial enzymes and microorganisms.

This cleansing argument resonated most with me, based on my post-celebration physical state:

A cleanse is as much about what you’re leaving out of your body as it is about what you’re putting in.

Also: 2 lbs of produce in each juice!

Also: Why not? Sure, there are plenty of nay-sayers out there, but when it comes to nutrition nobody agrees on anything anyway. If something sounds interesting, the only way to know if it’ll work for you is to try it yourself.

HOW DID IT GO?

Day 1

First juice

Juice 1: Gentle Green. Smells highly vegetal but has a sweetish taste from the apple. Actually very good. Finished it around 10:30. Am not hungry now, but keep thinking about food, probably because I know I can’t have any.

Juice 2

Juice 2: Red Load-ed. Smells like red peppers, and I’m not a big fan of red peppers. The carrots are the main flavor, and I do like carrots. Overall not bad.

Mid-morning: Feeling totally distracted from work (even more so than usual).

Lunchtimeish: Freezing (even more so than usual). Not sure if it’s related to juicing.

Juice 3

Juice 3: Rinse + Refresh. Yum! Fruity! Finally! Pineapple is the main flavor. Crisp though, not too sweet.

2pm: Starting to wonder how I’ll get through all 7 bottles in 1 day.

Juice 4

Juice 4: Green Agitator. Ingredients are intimidating. Also, starting this one at 3pm, feeling a bit of time crunch. Smells very kale/spinachy. No me gusta. Must power through. It’s easier if I do a big exhale after swallowing and don’t breathe in the odor.

5pm: Feel kind of sad. I miss food.

Juice 5

Juice 5: Rinse + Recharge, a little after 5:00. Sweet and refreshing, with a sneaky cayenne burn. Less burn w/ the same exhale through the mouth trick as used for #4.

Juice 6

Juice 6: Gentle Green again. It’s fine. I’m cranky and irritated. This cashew milk had better be amazing.

Juice 7: Cashew milk blend. Yummmmmm. Can take big sips happily. It’s sweet, hearty, comforting.

Bedtime: Stomach started growling as I tried to fall asleep.

Day 2

Morning: Unfocused, blue, blah. Not physical, just mental. Hard to blame it completely on the lack of food since the weather is crap and work is dull. Need to drink faster today to be done with everything by 7:30 for dance class. I miss food. Constraints make me angry.

Mid-morning: Working on #2. Feeling cold and distracted again, but it feels more like my normal levels of cold and distracted.

Early afternoon: The agitator wasn’t as bad today. About to start the cayenne… also less offensive. Huh.

Late afternoon: Mood is unmotivated, blah. Physically a little tired. Really looking forward to eating breakfast tomorrow, and I’m daydreaming about what I should make.

Evening: Finished #6 early, at 5:45. Got a little mood lift late in the afternoon, maybe from a walk? Still not very productive at work.

Day 3

Soooooooooooooo excited to eat. Made spinach and eggs.

In a fantastic mood today. Could it be the weather? It’s still cold and blustery out, but today is the turning day. The past 2 days I didn’t want to interact with anyone at work, felt bristly and irritated and sulky. Today everything is funny, I can’t keep my mouth shut in meetings, I’m singing stupid songs, etc.

Lessons learned: The lack of food forced me to examine my relationship with food, and I want to start cooking more, like I used to. I also want to try adding meat back in, starting with cow. That’s kind of a major realization. I didn’t feel the magical physical changes that the Cheeniuses did–and I was jealous of them for that–but the psychological effects were interesting.

Will I do it again? Maybe, but I’d probably sub in the beet juice for the agitator, or try the Light Rinse cleanse just to make the experience a bit more pleasant. I imagine the terrible mood I experienced on Day 2 would be lessened a bit next time knowing how happy and energetic I’d be feeling the next day.

Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely. It’s all about self-experimentation, and everyone’s mileage will vary.

HP Science Project: Horseback Butter Churning

Recently I attended Transition Charlottesville‘s butter churning skillshare, where Cheenius and Butter Boy taught me that it is possible to make butter by pouring cream into a jar and shaking it. Magical!

But it gets better! They next said you can put the cream jar into a backpack and take it for a hike and it will slosh itself into butter! I immediately thought of horseback riding as an potential jar agitator, and over the weekend I conducted a little experiment. I am happy to report that it was a delicious success! Read on for the details of my science project (please imagine you are viewing a science fair display board) and to learn how you, too, can churn butter on horseback.

Question

Is it possible to shake a jar of cream into butter during a session of horseback riding?

Hypothesis

If I put jars of cream into a pack on my back and ride my horse, then at the end of the session I will have jars of butter.

Procedure

Materials:

: supplies

  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Jar
  • Backpack
  • Bowl, spoon, fresh water (not pictured, for rinsing the butter)
  • Bread (vehicle for finished product)
  • Horse
my unwitting accomplice

my unwitting accomplice

Method:

1. Let the cream sit on the counter for a couple hours to come to room temperature. Fill the jar(s) about halfway with cream. 

jars of cream

2. Put the jars in a backpack. I used a lumbar pack and started with the jars in the main pocket, moving them later to the water bottle holders to keep them from knocking together.

jars-in-backpack

3. Ride your horse. Do not fall off your horse with jars on your back. Do not freak out your horse with the strange jar noises coming from an unknown (to horse) location.

horseback butter churning!

 4. Halfway through your ride, check the jars. You should see a thick sludge of whipped cream. If you have to remove your pack in the middle of your ride because your horse didn’t appreciate the clatter and threatened to unload you, you may have to do some shaking by hand afterward to reach the solid butter stage.

halfway there, and had to remove pack due to irritated pony

halfway there; had to remove pack due to irritated pony

all the way there, after a bit of hand shaking

all the way there, after a bit of hand shaking

5. Once you have a solid ball of butter sloshing in buttermilk, scoop the butter into a bowl and rinse it a few times, mashing it around to get all the buttermilk out. Buttermilk left in the butter will mold and turn the butter rancid quickly.

rinsed-butter

6. Eat the butter!

bread-and-butter

final-butter

Results

I noticed when we started trotting that the jars were a bit noisy, and my horse was acting up a little. My horse is normally sassy, so it’s hard to say if she was reacting to the scary sounds or just being her usual self, but when we started doing more serious work I decided to take the pack off to avoid upsetting her. After about 20 minutes of bouncy riding, the jar contents were a heavy sludge of whipped cream and a friend (hi Josh!) and I finished shaking the jars by hand after we rode. It took less than 5 minutes of shaking to get to the butter stage. I did not expect the jars to make so much noise in the pack (even when separated) and next time will wrap them in cloth to muffle the sounds to spare my poor, sensitive princess pony.

While horseback butter churning may take longer than shaking a jar by hand, it requires less effort. Next time I will give the cream more time to completely warm to room temperature before beginning, to shorten the time required to reach the butter stage, as warmer molecules move faster than cooler molecules. I could also try adding an agitator like a marble or wine cork to the jar to speed up the process.

The type of riding, and the intensity of your session, will affect the time required to reach the butter stage: mellower types of riding, like Western pleasure, where there’s no posting and gaits are smooth, or trail riding at slow speeds, are less bouncy than typical English hunter/jumper riding; and a casual stroll will agitate the cream less than a vigorous training session.

Time to reach butter stage (in minutes):

time to butter graph

Perceived effort required to reach butter stage, on a scale of zero to ten:

effort required

The effects of smoothness and intensity of the ride (rated on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being most roughest/most intense) on the total time required:

effect of types of riding chart

Level of annoyance felt by horse, as a percentage of maximum possible annoyance:

level of horse's annoyance

(Note: these graphs are not based on real data)

Conclusions

Is it possible to sufficiently shake a jar of cream into butter during a session of horseback riding?

Yes! While my jars didn’t quite reach butter stage before I removed my pack, I am confident that they would have if I had kept the pack on until the end of my riding session, based on the short length of hand-shaking time required to finish the butter.

Additional findings:

  • The reason this works is because heavy cream is an emulsion of fat and water, and the shaking causes the fat molecules to stick to each other, building up clumps of butter. See a better science-y explanation here.
  • Two (half) jars of cream turns into A LOT of butter. Bring more bread next time.
  • People at your barn will think you are strange if you attempt this.

Butter Churning Skill Share

On Monday night, our daring dairy divas Cheenius and Butter Boy, after honing their churning technique at home, presented their butter knowledge to an eager group at a crowded Transition Charlottesville Skill Share session. The presentation was fantastic, complete with expert commentary, audience participation, butter trivia and jokes (we learned there are no funny butter jokes), and buttermilk shooters. We tasted the final product on tasty Great Harvest bread and those of us who paid attention to the email and brought containers (thank you for your spare, Rachel!) took home some of the freshly churned gold. Your intrepid reporter’s favorite aspect of the evening was learning about making butter in a jar: pour in some cream, shake it for about 25 minutes — OR throw the jar in a backpack and go for a hike, ride a horse, mountain bike, etc etc etc — and boom, you have butter. Look for a Haute Pasture Research Experiment Report on that soon.

Thank you Cheenius and Butter Boy for a delicious evening!

butter cream

(we started with this)

churning the butter

(then we took turns churning)

shaking the jar

(and we took turns shaking)

butter in the churn

(we peeked a couple times for status updates)

antique butter stamp

(we did not use Cheenius’ antique butter stamp)

jar of almost-butter

(the jar butter is almost done)

bread for our butter

(butter vehicles)

jar of butter

(it’s ready!)

butter from the jar

(the jar butter)

rinsing the butter

(rinsing the churned butter)

butter

(we did it! let’s eat!)

My favorite recipes right now

Obviously all my readers come here for the recipes, so I thought I’d share my two favorite recipes of this winter. They are both quick and easy to make, healthy, and really delicious. Give them a try and let me know what you think!

  1. Spinach and Chickpeas. Mr. HP and I had this simple dish at MoVida in Sydney last month, and it was our favorite of all the creative small plates we tried–and we tried many. (Second favorite: the flan. So good.) The menu listed the ingredients, which we noted for later research: chickpeas, spinach, garlic, cumin, paprika, sherry vinegar. Plugging those into Google yields many hits, and some background (from the Boston Globe):

    In the Andalucia region of Spain, writes Jeff Koehler in the book “Spain: Recipes and Traditions From the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucia,” spinach and stewed garbanzo beans (as they’re called there), are popular tapas fare. Traditionally, crusty bread is pounded with toasted garlic to make a paste, which is stirred into the dish.

    The recipes Google showed me seemed very similar, so I picked Mark Bittman‘s version. I omitted the bread, and when I didn’t have paprika on hand I doubled the cumin, which works–but it’s better with paprika. I recommend a bit of salt, too.

    This was dinner tonight:
    Chickpeas and spinach

  2. Peanut Butter Vegetarian Chili. Again, Google comes up with many search results for peanut butter chili vegetarian, but you need look no further than the first hit.  I’ve made this Peanut Butter Vegetarian Chili from Eating Bird Food several times now to rave reviews among family and friends. It’s healthy, filling, and the flavors work so well together–you don’t taste the PB or cocoa powder. Apparently I didn’t take any chili pictures but those on the recipe page are prettier than any I’d take anyway. It’s a great winter dinner!

In closing, here are some sheep:

sheep

 

HP in Australia #4: The ethics of kangaroo meat

kangaroo

Fun facts about kangaroos:

  • Their long back legs cannot operate independently. That’s why they hop. When they are moving slowly (can’t really call it a “walk”) they pitch forward onto their T-Rex arms and use their thick tails as support as they swing their legs forward. Here’s a video.
  • A joey stays with his momma for up to 18 months, and in the meantime Mom can have new baby tucked away in her pouch. Kangaroos are the only mammal who can produce two different variations of milk at once, targeting the specific developmental stage of each joey. Here’s more about joeys.

When we went on our Wild Kangaroo Odyssey last week (see #4 in my Perth Favorites list–they are not in any particular order btw), the ever astute Mr. HP asked our gracious tour guide where kangaroo meat comes from–are there kangaroo farms in Australia? We were pleased to hear that no, kangaroos are not farmed; kangaroo meat comes from wild kangaroos shot by licensed hunters. Seemed ethical to us. But as I read more, I learned it’s not that simple.

Kangaroos are recognized worldwide as Australia’s mascot. They are protected by state and federal law, and appear on the federal coat of arms. They are also a nuisance to farmers, gardeners, and drivers, and lack natural predators in an urbanized environment, similar to white-tailed deer on the East coast of the US (watching the kangaroos, they reminded us a bit of deer). As with deer back home, hunting helps to keep the kangaroo population in check. The Australian government has strict regulations regarding hunter licensing and kill quotas, and only permits hunting in areas where kangaroos have been declared a nuisance. The quotas are reviewed yearly, based on population trends and climate predictions, with conservation of the species the most important objective. Kangaroo meat is touted as a leaner, hormone- and antibiotic-free alternative to beef, and more environmental: wild kangaroos require far less water and release much less methane than farmed livestock.

However:

For people who are not against kangaroo meat, there is a movement called kangatarianism, which prescribes following a vegetarian diet with the addition of kangaroo meat, since “Australian kangaroos live natural lives, eat organic food, and are killed humanely.”  There’s also a similar cameltarianism movement! Bonus points for great names–and who knew there are feral camels in Australia?

So, as with everything, it’s up to the consumer to understand the issue and make an informed decision for herself on the ethics of kangaroo meat. What are your thoughts?

References
http://thinkkangaroos.uts.edu.au/ethics
http://envirorhi.wordpress.com/2012/03/04/kangaroo-meat-environmentally-sustainable-or-australias-shame/
http://www.dfat.gov.au/facts/kangaroos.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kangaroo_meat
http://www.crikey.com.au/2012/05/02/is-it-ethical-to-eat-kangaroo-meat
http://www.awpc.org.au/kangaroos/eating2.htm
http://candobetter.net/?q=node/908

HP in Australia #3: Perth City Farm

At the end of the free Yellow CAT bus line* just outside downtown Perth lies an urban oasis where once a polluted scrap metal yard stood: Perth City Farm. Their motto: “Working together to create greener cities and sustainable landscapes for the future.”

Perth City Farm

Perth City Farm, managed by the non-profit Men of the Trees, not only grows organic food in the city, but also hosts workshops, seminars, art galleries, and group events. Local volunteers and those seeking training or experience tend the gardens and cafe. The founder’s dream was to create ”… a place in the city with a nursery, gardens, soup kitchens; a whole educational facility where young people could tend plants, meet each other, learn skills and find respect for themselves.”

perth-city-farm-men-of-the-trees perth-city-farm-inside

The Farm hosts a Saturday morning market featuring food and personal and household products from ethical and sustainable growers and producers, and has a popular onsite cafe serving simple breakfasty fare. I visited the cafe on a Monday afternoon, the first day they were open after a 3-week holiday, to find that they’d closed a bit early due to low traffic. It turned out the farm itself is closed on Mondays so I couldn’t observe the workers bustling around–which actually was nice in that I could stroll through the quiet gardens all alone. So even though I didn’t get to try any of the cafe’s food, the trip definitely was not a bust.

perth-city-farm-inside-seating perth-city-farm-inside-path

The Farm’s Facebook page is updated often with hours, events, and photos.

*CAT buses run four free loops within the city. Best part: most people, when exiting the bus, called out “thank you!” to the driver, who thanked them right back. It’s the little things, people!

HP in Australia #2: Perth

Perth is a peaceful, clean, easy to navigate playground for outdoor activities, with its river setting, biking and running paths, and ubiquitous green spaces, capped off by the enormous (larger than Central Park) Kings Park. It’s not all about fresh air though: go downtown Saturday night for some fantastic people-watching, as the ladies (oddly, it really is just the ladies) get all gussied up to hit the bars. Pro tip: don’t wear flip flops if you go out in the evenings, as most places have a dress code banning them.

Favorite things about Perth:

Jacob's Ladder

The view from Jacob's Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder, a popular workout location, is 242 stairs leading straight up to near the entrance to Kings Park. Go there early to share a great workout and fabulous views with half of Perth’s population. You will be sore for days.Lemon scented gum trees

Lemon-scented gum trees smell amazing and have a unique look. Find the column above at the entrance to Kings Park.

Western Australia coat of arms

In the Western Australia government coat of arms, the kangaroos are holding boomerangs!

wild kangaroos

Wild kangaroos! A thoughtful local took us to a lovely park-like cemetery north of Perth to do some kangaroo-spotting. They were all over the place, lounging in the shade and nibbling the grass.

Perth bike lanes

Extensive bike lanes follow the river, and lead into and around the city for bike commuters, bike sightseers, runners and walkers. Remember to stay in the left lane!

Australian raven

Perth coat of arms

The crows (actually ravens) here have the oddest voices, sort of like a long, strangled goat bleat–especially amusing when you get the Doppler effect from a flying crow. The birds around here are fantastic in general.

Friday food market

Twilight Hawkers Market in downtown Perth every Friday night serves tasty global street food in a festive atmosphere. Favorite stall (visually–we didn’t eat there): a French place that had a red carpet and chandelier.

I have a couple HP-relevant post planned, so this is just random travel musings; but I am happy to report the free range trend seems to be just as strong here as in Sydney!

Churn baby churn!

Guest post from Cheenius!

It’s cold, it’s January, everyone just wants to eat healthfully, so Cheenius, Mr. Cheenius, and two intrepid friends got together to… MAKE BUTTER!!! Butter Boy had brought back his grandmother’s butter churn from visiting his family over the holidays, hoping to relive his butter-making experiences from the 1970′s. Why? We find it’s best not to ask sometimes. But, given that three of us were Butter Virgins, it was crucial to have his only slightly creepy guidance. That guy knows butter.

His Butter Babe provided a gallon of non-homogenized heavy cream from Mt. Crawford Creamery [Ed: love their motto!], enabling us to attempt to make sweet cream butter (as opposed to cultured butter, which comes from non-pasteurized cream). Butter Boy kept the cream out of the refrigerator for 24 hours ahead of time so that it would sour a little bit. And then we were ready to start!

Pouring milk into the churn

That’s right!  We crossed the streams!

We decided on 5 minute shifts of churning, which everyone commented wasn’t tiring at all. Although, Cheenius would like to note here that we’re all incredibly fit, truly prime specimens of strength, endurance, and general rippedness. Who can say how the average person would perform under the same conditions? Anyway, it was only 10 minutes before we could see…

Clumpy cream

CLUMPING!!

After another 20-25 minutes there was definitely something buttery happening:

butter in churn

It’s even turning yellow!

And after a total of just 40 minutes we actually had the much-anticipated

Getting buttery

BUTTER!

After using a slotted spoon to transfer the yellow miracle to a bowl, Butter Boy and Mr. Cheenius rinsed our butter with ice cold water until the water ran clear.

rinsing the butter

Then we sat down to warm biscuits with the freshest butter Cheenius has ever tasted. We all agreed the flavor was of buttery goodness! Might have benefited from some salt after the rinsing, but otherwise we all felt quite proud of our accomplishment. Yield from one gallon of cream: 2 lbs. 11 oz. of butter, and 3 quarts of buttermilk.

biscuits and butter

And yeah, afterwards we bellied up to the bar and did buttermilk shooters. THAT’S how we roll on a Saturday night.

buttermilk shooters

Thanks, Cheenius! This wacky bunch will be presenting their churning smarts at a Transitions Charlottesville skill share soon. Keep your eye on the Transitions calendar if you’re interested in attending!

And the best cupcakerie in Charlottesville is…

The Occasion

Cheenius had a birthday, and her birthday wish was to eat ALL the cupcakes. So, she and Mr. Cheenius hosted a cupcake tasting featuring cupcakes from four Charlottesville bakeries. Below, I present the science of the great experiment.

cupcakes

The Contenders

(Descriptions from the bakeries’ websites)

Sweethaus: All of our cupcakes and frostings are small-batch, homemade treats and they come in 2 sizes, mini and regular.

Pearl’s: Our products are perfect for any celebration, offering nostalgic classics and retro creations combined for flawless presentations.

Cappellino’s Crazy Cakes: Featuring over 20 flavors of cupcakes that are as delicious as they are beautiful, Cappellino’s is quickly becoming known as Charlottesville’s premiere cupcake bakery.

Charlottesville Cupcake: Farm fresh eggs, organic ingredients, and the best chocolate and vanilla obtainable will always be our preferred choices. (Available by pre-order only)

cupcake tasting

The Method

Mr. Cheenius ordered basic chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting from each of the bakeries, and cleverly asked for no decorations, such as edible glitter, that might give away the origin of the cakes. He also went to great pains to cut the cupcakes into uniform slices, masking another clue: some bakeries are known for smaller or larger cakes.

The testers were instructed to sample a slice from each new platter and rate them on the following attributes: appearance, aroma, texture, frosting taste, and cake taste. We were able to try any of the cakes again after we completed the rotation of the four to minimize positional bias, and were encouraged to cleanse our palates with milk and/or pretzels between cakes.

cupcake tasting

The Results

Our initial glee at the bonanza awaiting us quickly gave way to sugar jitters and groans of indigestion. Hearts racing, we waded through the tasting and bravely soldiered on to demolish many of the unique flavors, such as red velvet, pistachio, lemon, and Oreo, from each bakery that Mr. Cheenius presented upon completion of the tasting, to keep us occupied while he tallied the results.

cupcakes

The unanimous winner was Pearl’s, although the pistachio cupcake from Sweethaus may have been the overall favorite. We’ll have to do a separate experiment to rate the non-standard flavors.

The sugar overload made us a little batty…

cupcake icing on toilet

Yes, that is glittery icing from an Oreo cupcake. The amount of sugar consumed in a cupcake tasting is not for amateurs. Don’t try this at home, kids! Or do, and invite me.

HP visits Australia: Sydney

Favorite things about Sydney:

New Years Eve Sydney

Sydney Opera House

The Opera House. I cannot get enough of the Opera House. Well, I guess I’m not enamored enough to do a tour or go to a performance there, but I’ve taken 10000 pictures of it and I do plan to hit the Opera Bar.

Surry Hills. We’ve been escaping the tourists, camping out at cafes, drinking in hipster bars, and eating at nice restaurants without reservations. (The restaurants in the CBD we’ve tried have been overpriced with long waits, terrible service and average food.)

Baxter Inn

Baxter Inn. It’s a dark bar in a basement with more types of whisky than you’ve ever seen. And really good non-whisky drinks. Sit at the bar and watch the bartenders work.

Sydney Harbour

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House from the Harbour Bridge

Running through the Botanical Gardens and over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. See “The Opera House” above.

Rainford Street Social

Rainford Street Social, our office away from home. The breakfasts are hearty and delicious, the coffee is fabulous (coffee here is not like coffee at home), they have decent, reliable wifi (good wifi is hard to find around here), and don’t seem to mind that we stay for hours upon hours. We do make an effort to keep ordering more coffees and fresh juices while we work so we’re not total deadbeats.

Free range eggs in Sydney

More relevant to this blog’s theme is the prevalence of free range eggs at cafes and groceries in Sydney. Stopping at a grocery, all the eggs we could find were labelled free range, and they are what was offered at the cafes we’ve breakfasted at–an improvement over what we typically see at home in the States. Are the pro-chicken laws stricter in Australia? Is societal pressure for happier hens greater here?

Now might be a good time to remind us all that “free range” just means the hens must have access to the outdoors; they can still be kept at high density in a barn, and the label doesn’t have anything to do with what they’re fed.

Currently in the state of Queensland, Australia, for a farm to use the free range eggs label, the maximum number of hens per hectare (1 hectare is approximately 2.5 acres) is 10,000, with a density of 12 hens per square meter within a barn [cite]. Contrast that with the EU, where free range hen density is 2500 birds per hectare, with each hen getting at least four square meters of space in a barn [cite]. As bad as the Queensland limits seem, they’re better than the other Australian states, which have no legal definition at all for free range [cite]. Slightly better than the majority of Australia is the US: the USDA definition of free range is that the hens have access to the outdoors. There are no maximum density regulations [cite].

So, it seems Australia and the US are way behind the EU in terms of the legal requirements of the free range label. Fortunately, consumers in all three places are exerting increasing pressure on producers and legislators to improve the quality of life of laying hens. Kudos to the cafes in Surry Hills like Rainford Street Social that use only free range eggs! And, as always, it’s important to keep pushing for change using your dollars. According to Compassion in World Farming, the leading farm animal welfare charity:

The simplest thing you can do to help the hens that lay your eggs is to buy free-range.

We’re off to Perth tomorrow to inspect the egg situation there!