Confused About What Eggs to Buy- You’re Not Alone!
Raise your hand if you stand in front of the egg section at your local market overwhelmed and confused as to what would be the best choice. I know I do! I look at descriptive words like cage-free, free-range, organic, brown, vegetarian fed, large, X large, no hormones added and so on. Plus the price can range from reasonable to pretty darn expensive. So what eggs are worth paying more for?
Some Terms and What They Really Mean
- Battery-caged: Birds live stacked in a cage packed with as many as ten hens, with no ability to walk or spread their wings. Due to more public outcry, more states are changing the laws to push for more cage free eggs. These eggs tend to be cheaper.
- Cage Free– Chickens raised in cage-free environments stay indoors but have unlimited access to food and water. They can be packed in like sardines though. According to an article on mashed.com, “Consider cage-free to be a step in the right direction, but if you’re truly looking to vote with your dollar at the supermarket, you can do much better”.
- Free Range– Chickens have a shelter but can go outside. There are no regulations on how long the birds stay outside—just that they can if they want to. Free-range hens with eggs that are “Certified Humans” must have access to at least two square feet of outdoor space for up to six hours a day.
- Pasture Raised– Farmers will say that these birds feed in open spaces where they can eat plants and insects. This may not mean that they produce nutritionally better eggs.
- Vegetarian Fed– This means that they are fed corn and soybeans with no animal protein. Although if they are free range, this is probably not entirely true.
- Omega-3 – May be on the label when these fatty acids, linked to heart, brain and eye health, are fed to hens in the form of flaxseed, algae or fish oil. A regular egg has about 30mg of Omega-3s, while an “enriched” one can have as much as 350mg.
- Organic– These eggs must come from uncaged hens that have access to the outdoors and are fed a diet grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. Farms get inspected regularly for compliance. So this label does mean something!
Ok so are you more confused then before?? It can really make your head spin! Some good advice from mashed.com- “If you can, buy eggs from pasture-raised hens direct from a farm or farmer’s market. When at the store, look for organic eggs from pasture-raised hens and earn bonus points for finding the Animal Welfare Approved label. If you can’t find those, look for organic, free-range eggs, preferably non-vegetarian. Finally, traditional eggs that bear the seal of a reputable, third-party animal welfare certifier will probably be better than eggs bearing no certifications or seals”.
Sounds like solid advice to heed the next time we go shopping. I will be searching for some local farms in my area to visit too 😉 How about you?