The Benefits of Pasture Raised Eggs
Did you know that, compared to supermarket eggs, TRULY pasture raised eggs 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 D
7 times more beta carotene
So why is that? Well first of all approximately 98% of all eggs purchased in the U.S. come from battery cage hens, and labels such as "Farm Fresh," "Cage Free" and "All Natural" can be misleading, as they tell you nothing regarding animal welfare, what the animals are fed, or how nutritious the eggs are likely to be.
Hens raised on sunshine, bugs, and grass produce eggs with deep orange, gooey yolks and thick milky whites with distinctive eggy flavor that just taste great! But what about those supermarket eggs with labels such as "cage free," "free range," or even "organic?"
Cage free is a loose, unregulated term where eggs could be from chickens confined to a barn with no access to outdoor space (and bugs, grass and sunshine!). These chickens may live in dark sheds and crowded conditions. There is no regulation or inspection required.
Free range hens are supposed to have access to the outside, but there is no regulation as to how long they need to be outside or how much room should be given. Also no inspections required.
Pasture raised eggs should come from hens raised on grassy pastures. However, this label is also unregulated so can mean anything at all.
What about organic? Certified organic eggs come from antibiotic and hormone free hens that have "access" to outdoor areas and are fed an organic diet and requiring inspection. However, industrial scale egg producers are gaming the system, producing "organic" eggs in huge factory farms, crowding tens of thousands of chickens in 2-story buildings with small concrete porches passing as "outdoor access." The USDA's National Organic Standards Board hears regularly from well-funded and organized industry lobbyists, which is why organic egg standards are so low in the first place! These industrial scale producers are placing family scale organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage, and driving many out of the organic egg business.
So be careful out there! Don't trust those labels, find out where your eggs come from.