Eggs – Confusing Choices!
Once upon a time, the egg selection in the grocery store was Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large or Jumbo. Period. Now? The selection is so confusing it's enough to make one reel. From "Organic, Cage-Free, Vegetarian Fed" to nearly everything else you can think of. How do you make the best selection? It may not be what you think.
For example, by definition, "cage-free" requires that hens have access to a yard – but in conventional egg production, that doesn't necessarily mean they spend any time in it. Nonetheless, those eggs may be labeled (and priced) as "cage free". Eggs that can currently be labeled as "organic" are not necessarily from healthy happy hens.
While flimsy definitions of "free range" allow such facilities to sell their products as free range, please beware that a hen that is let outside into a barren lot for mere minutes a day, and is fed a diet of corn, soy, cottonseed meals and synthetic additives is NOT a free-range hen, and simply will not produce the same quality eggs as its foraging counterpart… –Dr. Joseph Mercola
Some of the factory farm operators literally raise millions of birds (both conventional and organic) with as many as 85,000 “organic” hens in single buildings.
True free-range eggs are substantially more nutritious than non.
|Mother Earth News' 2007 egg testing project|
- Eggs generally come from one of two sources: confined animal feeding operations or CAFO’s, where the hens are typically kept caged indoors, or smaller farms where the hens are not confined, but rather allowed to pasture freely.
- Hens’ natural diet consists of seeds, green plants, insects, and worms. CAFO birds are primarily fed a diet of corn and soy-based feed*; most of which is genetically engineered. The difference in diet makes the eggs they produce vastly different nutritionally.
- You can tell the eggs are free range by the color of the egg yolk. Foraged hens produce eggs with bright orange yolks. Dull, pale yellow yolks are a sure sign you’re getting eggs form caged hens that are not allowed to forage for their natural diet.
- Free range eggs are truly an ideal food; it’s not only one of best proteins you can get, it’s also one of the least expensive. They’re best eaten raw, or soft-boiled. Scrambled eggs are the most damaged, and will not provide the same health benefits as raw or partially cooked eggs
* Keep in mind this is "vegetarian feed" – so egg cartons that promise you "Vegetarian fed" are not necessarily offering benefit (and likely charging more)!
Your local farmer's market is a great source to find eggs laid by the happiest and best fed hens. If you don't have easy access to such, ask the staff in a natural food store, such as a Co-Op, which brands are from small, local producers or where else you can find eggs from "foraged hens". And use the Cornucopia Institute's Egg Scorecard to help identify the brands that are masquerading behind the term "Organic".
Now you know….. Eggcellent!!