Report Card on Eggs

image Shopping for eggs can be downright confusing these days. Labels like, “All-natural” give the illusion of health yet often mean nothing. Here is a brief summary of which eggs are best:

Best:  Raise your own chickens. I would absolutely love to do this but I don’t live in an area where it’s possible.

Next Best:  Eggs from a local farmer or friend - raised with plenty of access to the outdoors in a small group. The more freedom a chicken has to live it’s natural lifestyle the healthier it will be for you and for them.

Store Best (not a common label):  “Pasture Raised” - Chickens are allowed to run in a large area outside. They may still be higher in omega-3 fatty acids

Store Best (more readily available):  “Certified Organic” - This is the only label that is regulated. Free of antibiotics, pesticides and animal byproducts. Birds do not live in cages and can roam freely.

Other labels that don’t mean much and aren’t regulated:
“Natural” - Basically doesn’t mean anything. It’s just marketing.
“Cage Free” - Just means they aren’t in cages. They may still be kept in close quarters without any outside access.
“Free Range” - Means they have access to the outdoors but may not use it.
“Hormone Free” - Hormones aren’t allowed anyway.
“Antibiotic Free” - This standard isn’t regulated so it is hard to verify.

The majority of this information is based off of this Culinate article by Kelly Myers.

Here the Humane Society shows how chickens are treated under the various methods of chicken farming.

This fascinating article highlights a sustainable farm in New Mexico. Toward the end of the article the author lists questions you can ask your local egg grower. It also shows how chickens are basically as smart as dogs. 

  • Hey, good article. What’s the difference though between Free Range and Pasture Raised though? They seem to be one and the same to me.

  • Thanks for your comment Dave.
    This is my understanding: The term, “Pasture Raised” is less of an offical classification and more a term used by those who raise Chickens themselves or by those with a small operation. It is more likely with these types of eggs that the chicken will have spent the majority of their time outdoors. This terminology is also not very frequently used. The term, “Free Range” is used on a more industrial scale and doesn’t necessarily mean the animals spend much time outdoors. It’s available but they may not take it. There is no certifying agency to hold the farm accountable to this standard.