I love eggs!
They are one of the most complete nutritiously dense foods. Plus, they are quick to whip up and have a meal in seconds. But, boy oh boy, has it become an ordeal to understand the carton labels at the supermarket. It seems like every time I look, the packaging has changed and it lists more claims, making it very confusing to know the best eggs to buy. The are too many different labels and certifications, such as, free range, pasture raised, hormone free, organic, cage free, free roaming; here is a simple and easy explanation decoding what they mean to make life easier for you and which I like to buy for myself.
They are not caged but rather housed in large dark pens with no access to daylight, their feed is not regulated, their beaks are cut, the use of antibiotics is not regulated. In other words try to avoid these as much as you can.
Cages are forbidden but they can be on concrete floors, with some access to fresh air and daylight, either by a small door or wall. Their feed is not regulated. Certainly a bit better than cage-free but still not ideal.
Means nothing and the label is just a deceptive marketing ploy. In the US, egg-laying hens are never ever given hormones.
OMEGA 3 ENRICHED
Cages permitted, their feed is fortified with Omega 3 oils (Pasture raised eggs contain naturally twice the quantity of Omega 3 than industrialized egg production)
CERTIFIED ORGANIC – GOOD OPTION
Cages and antibiotics prohibited, access to fresh air and sunlight required, their feed is organic, beak cutting permitted, forced molting allowed. This is my choice of eggs when pasture raised is not available.
PASTURE RAISED – BETTER OPTION
This is the best choice next to having your own coup. These chickens live outdoors and hunt, peck and grace on their natural diets. These eggs are not as readily available; you may find them at farmers markets and some supermarket. Studies show that Pasture raised eggs have 1/3 less cholesterol, ¼ less saturated fat, 2/3 more vitamin A, 2 times more Omega 3 fatty acids, 3 times more vitamin E and 7 more times beta-carotene. Not regulated or enforced but certainly my first choice when available.
Why is this important?
Now you know what all of the labels mean and my pick: pasture raised when possible, otherwise, organic. Picking the best eggs is certainly more costly but it’s an investment in our health and wellbeing. We should start seeing food as preventive medicine, getting sick from dirty food requires a lot more money spent at doctors and pharmacies. Eat good food, eat less and move more is certainly the way to go.
For more detailed information, check out this awesome graphic by takepart.com
For a great egg recipe, check out these Mexican Drowned Eggs