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    Archive for the ‘pasture-fed’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Eggs

    s_half-dozen-eggsCan you talk about eggs?

    You have mentioned before that there is no nutritional difference between white and brown, but what about all of the other labels we find on eggs these days, like free-range, cage-free, and organic?

    The cage free eggs I buy at the grocery store seem better than the regular ones (the shells are thicker and the yolks are more yellow), but sometimes I feel like it’s just a big marketing scheme.

    I have heard that cage free chickens often live and are treated the same as the caged ones, only without the cages.

    If that’s the case, the eggs shouldn’t be much different.

    What eggs should we buy and what should we look for on the packages?

    — Kristin MacBride
    (Location Unknown)

    The marketing of eggs is among some of the most confusing — and meaningless — I can think of (yes, even worse than whole grain trickery!)

    Let’s break down the most popular terms and reveal their true meanings:

    • Free range eggs are produced by hens that have access to the outdoors.  Read that again.  Free-range hens only need to have access to the outdoors.  In other words, they may simply be housed somewhere with no doors.  Or, the doors to their abode may be open for twenty minutes a day. Additionally, the “outside” only needs to offer them five feet of space.  It is not required to be a grassy field with lots of vegetation.  A dirty concrete backyard that is accessible twenty minutes a day can still fall under “free range.”
    • Cage-free eggs are produced by hens that are not in cages.  Keep in mind, though, they can still be crammed alongside other thousands of hens in a small space.  They simply are not confined by a cage.  Many “cage-free” hens have no room to walk around.  Additionally, their beaks are still cut off without anesthesia and they may be fed very low-quality feed with antibiotics, hormones, and genetically modified crops.
    • Organic eggs are produced by hens that are fed organically.  While these hens may not legally be in cages, they may suffer the fate of cage-free hens (have no more than an 8.5 by 11″ space to themselves, but just not inside a cage).  They may also have their beaks cut off without anesthesia, and never see sunlight.  This claim refers more to how the hens are fed, than to specific living conditions.
    • The same goes for eggs labeled as “vegetarian feed” or “Omega-3 fortified.” This claim ONLY refers to their feed, not to the conditions they live in.  FYI: I always chuckle when I see eggs advertised as being produced by “vegetarian” hens, since they are naturally omnivorous.

    Is it possible to consume eggs from hens that had a decent life?  Yes.

    The keyword you want to look for is “pasture fed.”  These hens exclusively eat worms, insects, and vegetation found outdoors.  The only caveat is that these eggs are only available at local farmers’ markets.

    Although slightly pricier than other eggs, they are more nutritious.  Studies have found that pasture-fed eggs offer more Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and beta-carotene than eggs produced in any other ways.  This is, partially, by the way, because of their omnivorous diet.

    Eat Wild is a wonderful website for all things pasture-fed.  Click here to see where you can find pasture-fed eggs in your state.


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