The Difference Between Organic, Pastured, and Free Range Eggs
With so many different labels of eggs, such as “organic” and “free range,” it can get a bit confusing as to which ones taste better and which ones are healthier. And then there are the ones without any marketing claim, aside from the big stamp "JUMBO EGGS". This article will help you understand the different labels in the supermarket.
Growing up I thought eggs were simply…eggs. My first introduction to fresh organic pastured eggs was from my fiancé’s aunt. I picked her up from the bus station and noticed her gripping a box firmly, but carefully. Of course, I was curious as to what type of goodies she brought for us from Vegas, her hometown. “They’re fresh eggs! My chickens had fresh eggs yesterday!” I thought to myself, You have chickens? Like, pet chickens?! And the eggs…they came from your chickens?!
Can You Tell Which Egg Yolk Has More Nutrients?
When we got home, we immediately fried a few, and scrambled the rest. Oh…my…goodness… let me tell you…I have been missing out. Of course, they tasted like eggs, but with a special “oomph” to it. That night, I counted chicken eggs instead of sheep before falling asleep.
These pastured eggs are richer in color and flavor, with a deep orange yolk. They may be different in size and color, but the one thing that remained consistent was the pleasant surprise that woke up my taste buds.
Pastured chicken eggs are the best choice and they will give you more bang for the buck. They have more nutrients than conventional eggs!
Pastured Chicken Egg Nutrition
Eggs are probably among the best source of protein. Egg whites contain a lot of the amino acids while the yolk is rich with vitamins and minerals.
According to a study from 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project, conventional store bought eggs are nutritionally inferior to pastured eggs. Compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
- 1⁄3 less cholesterol
- 1⁄4 less saturated fat
- 2⁄3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
- 4–6 times more vitamin D
Chicken Farm Utopia...
Chicken Feed May Be Your Feed Too!
Did you know that chickens are naturally omnivores, and should be eating bugs, insects, and grub, which in essence produces nutrient-rich eggs? They are not vegetarians!
Chicken farmers may add soy and corn to their chicken’s diet, pumping them up with GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms)! These ingredients are much cheaper than animal products.
The Reality of It...
Tricks to Tell if the Eggs Are Fresh
- Hard boil them. Store eggs that have been on the shelf for a long time will cause evaporation of the whites, which is why the white shell is easy to peel off. Fresh eggs will be hard to peel because the whites are pressed hard against the shell.
- Put it in a bowl of cold water. If it sinks to the bottom and lies on its side, it’s fresh. If it stands up, it’s about 1–2 weeks old. If it floats, it’s an old egg.
The Traditional Method of Raising Chickens
So What's the Difference?
- Chicken farming is all about PROFITS. Don’t be fooled by clever marketing phrases on the cartons. A box of eggs with a picture of a pretty chicken frolicking on a green grassy field with the wording, “Fresh Eggs” is tricky and deceiving. It translates to “Miserable Chickens: buy these eggs so we can make more money while you eat a low-nutrient egg.”
- Chickens are raised in factories where they are crowded together in a very confined area, trampling on each other every day. Some are kept in individual cages with no room to move. It might have never crossed your mind, but this is a potential breeding condition for bacteria and disease!
- Well by golly, there goes the farmer’s profit if some of the chickens died! So what do they do to prevent that from happening? They stuff antibiotics down their system, which means some of these antibiotics can end up in your eggs. Hormones can also be given to boost up their egg production. It makes sense from a profit perspective since more laid eggs equal more profit.
- Pastured eggs are laid by chickens that are raised on the green pasture, with access to the sun, bugs, and fresh air. The chickens eat a natural omnivore diet full of bugs, the way Mother Nature wanted them to do.
- Cage free systems are still not the best, considering they are still living in crowded hen houses. This means they are trampling around in their own feces and other chicken’s feces. They have no room to move or even spread their wings. No fresh air, no sunlight.
- You would think the next best thing is free range. You immediately visualize beautiful landscapes of hens wandering around a green bed of beautiful grass with the sun shining on them all day. In fact, free range is not much different from cage free, with the exception of a tiny door or ramp that leads to another tiny area. They must have access to the outdoors. With thousands of chickens confined in one area, do you think they actually use that door?
- Organically raised chickens must be fed food that is free of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics. That must be good news right? Not necessarily. However, they are your next best choice if you don't have access to pastured eggs.
- Read this article to learn more about organic eggs. You will be amazed!
- This term may be used to imply that chickens are eating a “healthier” diet, when in fact they are eating corn, soybeans, and grain.
Omega 3 enhanced eggs
- These chickens are fed a diet of flaxseed or fish oils.
In conclusion, chickens that are free to run around and eat grass, bugs, and greens just lay a much superior egg. No egg produced in a large commercial egg factory/operation can compare. Of course, you could eat more conventional eggs to reap the same amount of nutrition, but then you are adding more calories to your diet.
Small local farmers supply fresh eggs from chicken that are raised organically in a nice environment with a large open area. You might even be lucky enough to purchase the eggs on the same day they are laid. Find a local farmer in your area that raises chickens humanely. Ask questions and learn how the chickens are raised and fed. If you live in the city, and do not have access to a nearby farm, visit this non-profit website, Local Harvest, to learn about deliveries.
Remember: Happy and Clean Chickens Produce the Healthiest Eggs!
Questions & Answers
© 2012 Kim Lam