Where do your eggs really come from? What do all those confusing terms and labels really mean? Hopefully we can clear up a bit of the confusion for everyone by answering some common questions.
Is there any difference between white eggs and brown eggs? Nope. They taste exactly the same. In fact some hens lay blue, green, pink and other colored eggs! They all taste the same and have the same nutritional value, depending on where you get them of course.
I buy “cage-free” eggs from the supermarket. Doesn’t that mean the hens get to roam outside? Not necessarily. It just simply means they have unlimited food and water and roam around freely in their habitat which is usually indoors. Most likely they are very crowded.
Farm Fresh, that means I can be sure my eggs are fresh right? Only if you know your farmer and you get them straight from them! A factory farm is still called a farm. And that is the worst possible place to get your eggs.
I’ve heard free-range are the best eggs to buy. Is this right? Well…. Just like cage free this really means they can move around in their habitat. They may have a door to the outside but they may also be so crowded they might not be able to find it. Their conditions are usually unsanitary and crowded most the time. Again, know your farmer.
Unfortunately all three of these pictures you see here could be classified in your grocery store as “cage free”, “farm fresh” and even “free range” as long as there is a door leading outside. Disgusting isn’t it?
Here are a couple more labels you may have seen.
Omega-3 Enriched –This means their food is supplemented with foods higher in the Omega 3’s such as soy,flax-seed, and fish oil.
Natural– Simply means minimal processing but has no regulations on the farms or food used.
Organic– Organic has the USDA seal stating that the hens are fed organically and are free of hormones and antibiotics. They are usually free-range which we know means access to the outdoors. They might not be grazing in a field. Know your farmer.
Pasteurized – Pasteurization is exposure to heat to kill off any possible bacterial. This might be good if you eat them raw but it destroys the nutritional value. Getting clean eggs from a farmer you know makes this not necessary.
Pastured Eggs– At the moment this is the only label you can trust. Hopefully it will stay that way. Personally I don’t trust any egg from a supermarket. Pastured or grass-fed is what you are picturing when you see the hens out in the fields grazing away all day. At night they will head to their coops. This is true FREE-RANGING! They come and go as they please, have access to plenty of water, bugs, earthworms and other critters. They are living the high life. Their eggs have up to 20 times more healthy Omega 3’s than those poor factory farmed hens. So who needs Omega 3 added eggs? Pastured raised is how it was done “back in the day”. It is how we do it here at Cheese Acres. Our chickens have a huge fenced in area they stay in for protection against predators when no one is home. When we are here they are let loose for true free ranging of all the property. They go where they want to.
The nutritional value of such eggs far exceeds others.
From Mother Earth News pastured eggs have:
• 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
I’m concluding today with this final advice. Don’t let grocery store labels fool you. Buy truly fresh eggs from a local farmer. Know your farmer.