We spent most of the month of October at our vacation home in Florida then returned home for most of November before returning to our vacation home November 29 to stay until December 20. One thing I do notice when shopping in the grocery stores where our vacation home is, is the food labelling. It's not like I don't see food labelling at home in Ontario, it is I see a lot less of it because of our heavy reliance on whole foods home grown, bought directly from the source (eg. farmers, farm markets, orchards, etc.) or bought in bulk from the bulk food stores.
When I opened the eggs a couple of days later, I found one was broke. Normally, I check store bought eggs for breakage but at 2 AM the old brain was a bit fuzzy. Each egg had a 'use by date stamp' with a code below it. I've seen this type of thing on eggs before. The use by date is the last date you should use your egg for freshness. The other code is the traceability code.
Traceability codes are on most commercially prepared products, cheeses, some meat products, dairy, some bakery goods, canned and jarred foods, and dairy. The traceability code is usually found under the best by or use by date. It is normally a series of alpha numerical characters separated into groups as the one on the eggs. The groups may be separated by spaces or dashes. Essentially, the code can gives information from the grower to the processing plant. This is the code that is used when a food product is recalled which is one reason foods should be stored in their original packaging. If you have a mobile device, it is easy to check the traceability code while you are shopping before buying.
Here's a short video that explains how eggs are graded and how they can be traced back to the producer.
We bought the extra large eggs at Walmart on November 30 for $2.08. I pay $2 per dozen from the organic farm and $3.49 at the grocery store for free range eggs at home (Ontario). I put the code AX-P1306-306 into The Egg Tracker at My Fresh Egg. This dozen eggs were processed on November 1, 2012 from Cal-Maine Farms located in Bushnell, Florida. They were Grade A, extra large sold under the brand name Sunny Meadows. I got all that information just from the code that was on the egg using The Egg Tracker!
What I found concerning was the eggs were already a month old when we bought them. I wasn't pleased about that. The use by date was December 15 which means the eggs had a freshness span of 45 days. When I buy eggs from the organic farmer at home, the eggs were collected the same day so not even a full 24 hours old! In other words, the eggs we normally use are fresh not days old. To date, I have not found a source for fresh (hours old), free range eggs at our vacation home. I have an app on the iPad called Eat Local to find farmer's markets near our vacation home so that has been a huge help as far as finding fresh, local produce. Now we just need to do a bit of networking to find fresh sources for meats, cheeses and eggs.