What Type of Organic Eggs Am I Buying?

What type of eggs should I buyIf you’ve ever wondered about what those new organic-y sounding descriptors are for eggs, you’ve come to the right place. I’m always forgetting the nuances and decided to finally write this to remind myself. This is a handy summary of the types of chicken eggs that you can buy at your local grocery store or farmer’s market:

Pastured:

  • Chickens are kept outdoors (I’m not sure if this includes at night, when they’d be very susceptible to predators),
  • Eat grass and bugs (not a vegetarian diet, which is not natural for chickens).

I’ve only found these at select farmer’s markets. These will be the priciest eggs, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits of eating more “natural” eggs, with the impact it will have on your wallet.

Cage-free:

  • In the US, chickens that are not raised or kept in cages.
  • They may still be in a barn with lots of other hens.
  • Access to the outdoors isn’t assumed.
  • They may still be eating chicken feed.

Free-range:

  • In the US, chickens are allowed access to go outdoors,
  • they have a chance to engage in more natural behaviors (like walking around, versus being confined to cages which occurs in conventional egg production facilities).
  • They may still be eating chicken feed.
  • The assumption here is that free-range chickens are treated more humanely.

Note: “Free-range” is still broadly defined, with regards to USDA approval of the term. Outdoor access doesn’t specify whether that has to be a field (it could be gravel), nor is there a minimum amount of time outdoors specified, nor how much space a hen should have.

With this reminder, I think I’m going to make the effort to buy the pastured eggs, but if I’m in a hurry, I may pick up the cage-free eggs at the local Trader Joe’s.

Sources:

National Geographic, http://greenliving.nationalgeographic.com/cage-vs-range-eggs-2872.html

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range

Lexicon of Sustainability, http://www.lexiconofsustainability.com/pop-up-art-shows/pastured/

WebMD, http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/egg-types-benefits-facts

Cheeseslave, http://www.cheeseslave.com/how-to-buy-organic-eggs-pastured-vs-free-range-eggs/

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2 Responses to What Type of Organic Eggs Am I Buying?

  1. Kent Bunn says:

    One of my coworkers raises chickens up in Penngrove, and brings eggs into work. I’m pretty sure his count as pastured. 🙂

  2. Pingback: What Type of Organic Eggs Am I Buying? | Dring Drong

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