Their feed itself must be 100% organic, which means no hormones, antibiotics, arsenic, or byproducts of poultry slaughter. And the eggs are inspected and certified to be pesticide and antibiotic-free.
In 2007, Mother Earth News surveyed 14 flocks of truly pasture raised egg producers and compared it to the USDA nutrition stats for conventional eggs. The survey, found that pasture-raised eggs contained:
Omega-3 enriched eggs contain 39% less arachidonic acid than conventional eggs. This is inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid is over-consumed by most people on a Standard American Diet. Omega-3 eggs also contain 500% more omega-3 than both conventional and organic eggs.
This one is a bit of a head-scratcher. Fertile eggs have become a popular trend, promoted as being more nutritious. But there is no evidence of any nutritional advantages or even of chemical changes unless the egg is incubated at the proper temperature for at least 72 hours.
For more mainstream and consistent egg sources the best eggs to buy are certified by third-party organizations to be organic, pasture-raised, Certified Humane or Animal Welfare Approved, and USDA grade A or AA.
Over time, as egg production has increased, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed a complex system of regulations to ensure eggs are processed and handled in a healthy manner and labeled correctly before they hit the market.
The USDA defines cage-free eggs as eggs laid by hens that are able to roam vertically and horizontally in indoor spaces while having access to fresh food and water. The trend toward using cage-free environments rather than the longtime standard of battery cages in the U.S. has been increasing sharply over the last several years. As of July 2022, 105 million cage-free hens have produced about 35% of the eggs on the market. That number has increased from about 10% in 2012, according to the USDA. Although this method of egg production is accepted as more humane, some cage-free farms may restrict outdoor grazing.
Egg carton labels cover a broad range of terms, but what do they all mean? And which one is best? And what exactly is the difference between a brown and white egg? A registered dietitian demystifies the egg.
You might think that brown eggs are healthier or seem more natural in some way, but rest assured: Brown eggs and white eggs are the same. The only difference is the color of the shell. Nutritionally, they are identical.
Next, cage-free eggs are actually quite similar to conventional eggs. The chickens that lay cage-free eggs still get their beaks and wings clipped and live in close quarters with minimal sunlight and no guaranteed access to the outdoors.
Out of the three types of antibiotics approved by the FDA to treat diseases in hens, none of them have had any marked effect on the eggs. In fact, these antibiotics actually prevent the hens from laying infected eggs.
These eggs come straight from chickens raised on a pasture, which typically indicates that they could freely roam full access to sunlight. These chickens ate an organic diet, complete with bugs and worms for nourishment.
In any grocery store you can spend anywhere from $1 to $4 on eggs. These protein-packed little guys used to be considered one of the most economical sources of high-quality protein, but more choices and production practices mean wider range of cost.
Inexpensive and readily available, these eggs were laid by hens usually housed in a very full hen house, often without seeing daylight. Although the hens may not be treated as well as others, the eggs are full of the nutrients outlined above and a great protein choice for breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack.
These are eggs laid by chickens who usually are housed in an open barn. The chickens may still have little space to roam, but they are not caged and are allowed perches and nest boxes to lay their eggs.
These eggs come from chickens who are able to roam free outside, sometimes under a shaded canopy. The time they spend outside is determined by the farm, but their ability to get more movement and fresh air is what makes these chickens unique. In addition to eating grains, these chickens forage for plants and insects for food.
Healthier than conventional? This guarantees there are no animal byproducts or questionable ingredients in the hen feed. This may be important to someone following a vegetarian diet, but there is not clear evidence that these eggs are healthier for you.
Each farmer determines how they raise and feed the hens. This is the perfect place to inquire about practices. Eggs purchased at the farmers market may or may not be less expensive than store brands. However, for safety purposes, ensure that the farmer washed and refrigerated the eggs within 36 hours to reduce risk of salmonella.
Healthier than conventional? Most common brands found in grocery stores supply 160 to 225 milligrams omega-3 per egg. The Institute of Medicine recommends 1.1 to 1.6 grams of ALA (omega-3 fatty acids from plants) daily. Other institutions recommend additional sources of omega-3 fats, such as DHA and EPA, because it is unclear how much ALA is converted into DHA and EPA in the body. While fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel can supply substantially more EPA and DHA than omega-3 fortified eggs, this type of egg may be a good option for those who do not eat fish or other omega-3 plant sources like flaxseed, chia seeds and walnuts.
If food cost is important to you, conventional eggs may be the perfect choice for your family. Reasons for choosing non-conventional eggs can range from concerns about farming practices to whether the other foods in your diet are providing enough needed nutrients. No matter the egg you choose, always know that you have a choice and you decide what you consume and how much.
Organic eggs first popped up in grocery stores in 2002 when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) instituted the USDA Organic Certification. Farmers desired to create a food system that preserved the environment, supported family farmers, and treated animals with respect as living beings, and consumers bought food products as an alternative to the industrialized food system.
In terms of chickens eating organic feed and not being given antibiotics, you have very little worries with most organic egg operations. Most of the challenges around ranking organic eggs have to do with how humanely the chickens are treated. Here are some of the criteria that are ranked.
Backyard Eggs and Vital Farms are products from the same company, but the Vital Farms eggs are Certified Organic. The hens are raised in the same way according to similar standards, but all their pasture and feed is organic.
John:Egg yolk color is determined by the amount of xanthophylls included in the feed, Xanthophylls are natural pigments found in nature in only plant and vegetable sources. They are not found in the worms and little bugs.Yellow corn has about 8 mg xanthophylls per pound. Marigold extract is an excellent source and is generally only used for eggs to be used in bakery products and egg noodles.
December 2016, we just bought 2/18 egg cartons of The Happy Egg Co. and are not happy. The store was out of the eggs we normally buy which has rich orange yellows. Happy Eggs were pale yellow. Last time we go for their bull.
Thanks for that info, I get my eggs from healthy tradition s in Wisconsin, they test for glyphosphates (round up) and do not use any soy or corn to feed, which I find VERY IMPORTANT. If the container says vegetarian-fed, the hens are probably fed corn and soy.
I recently started buying vital farms eggs but my package says pasture raised alfresco eggs. What is the difference between this and the backyard eggs? I paid $7.49 in whole foods foe this brand and $6.49 in Shoprite
Hi Joyce,All those varieties are by Vital Farms. The pasture raised alfresco eggs are the same as the backyard eggs. Then Vital Farms also has organic pasture-raised eggs. So the only difference is whether or not the hens are eating all-organic feed or not.
What none of these companies address, however, is where they source their hens from, and what happens to all the baby male chicks that are unwanted because of their inability to produce eggs. Are they buried alive and thrown into grinders fully conscious as so often happens on other factory farms?
I just got back from Europe (Netherlands and Romania) and the cheap eggs ($3-4) I bought were better than anything I could get from typical large retailers in San Jose no matter what the source or cost ($8-10).
I have been noticing this with Happy Eggs as of late as well. As a family of four, we eat about 4 dozen eggs weekly and have noticed that about 3-4 eggs per dozen of the Happy Egg brand are now extremely pale yellow compared to the rest of the eggs. I am not sure what is happening, but it is enough of an instance that we are considering switching to a more expensive/inconvenient but localized source.
I just got the Happy Eggs brand here in California and the yolk was very pale yellow. I am still investigating on all that eggs claims and controversy. In corporate America everyone lies (ok almost everyone), I guess the only way is to start raising our own food.
When you get the true backyard raised eggs you will note: orangey yellow yolks, the shells crack much easier (I wonder if commercial raised eggs are given something to harden the shell) and the whites are fluffy and actually raise up like a cake if you do fried eggs. They are also very juicy. Vital farms was our go- to but even now comparing it to back yard raised I have some doubts but we use in a pinch when we do not get them from the neighbor.
I think women have bought into this idea of humane treatment of chickens because of their nurturing instincts. Consumers are buying eggs, the topic of your report, not chickens. And the mood of the chickens (happy) is not transferred to the egg. At least I see no evidence of that. 781b155fdc