Eggs are one of the trickiest foods at the grocery store.
Labels like “cage-free” (which means nothing), “free range,” “pasture-raised,” etc. make it difficult to know exactly what you’re buying and which brands of eggs are best.
If you have heard that naturally-raised, free range chickens and eggs offer you a better bang-for-your-buck, even at $5-$6.00 a dozen, it’s true. Free range is better for us humans nutritionally and it is the best for the hens.
As it turns out, all those lower-priced $-a-dozen, commercial eggs at your supermarket aren’t providing you or the chickens much of a choice at all. Eggs are another example where extra care for the laying hens pays big dividends for you, the consumer, and it is also more sustainable for the chickens and the land.
Recent tests conducted by Mother Earth News magazine have shown once again that eggs from chickens that range freely on pasture provide clear nutritional benefits over eggs from confinement operations.
Why Free Range Eggs
Mother Earth News collected samples from 14 pastured flocks across the country and had them tested at an accredited laboratory. The results were compared to official US Department of Agriculture data for commercial eggs. Results showed the pastured, free range eggs contained an amazing:
* 1/3 less cholesterol than commercial eggs
* 1/4 less saturated fat
* 2/3 more vitamin A
* 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
* 7 times more beta-carotene
3 EGG BRANDS YOU CAN TRUST
1. THE HAPPY EGG CO.
All Happy Egg Co’s farms are truly free range, with hens guaranteed at least 14 square feet per bird. Hens are given wooden perching towers, sand pits for dust bathing (a natural behavior), plus clean water and feeding troughs – all rarities in the egg industry, believe it or not.
What I like best about Happy Egg Co eggs is that you can find them at conventional grocery stores (Safeway/Vons, Kroger/Ralph’s, etc.), and they’re the least expensive free range eggs at $4.99/dozen.
2. BACKYARD EGGS (BY VITAL FARMS)
Eggs from pasture-raised and truly free range hens are the most nutritious and tastiest in my opinion. Backyard Eggs provide at least 108 square feet of pasture per bird, so the hens have a huge amount of space to roam and eat grass, bugs, worms, etc. (eating these little critters are what make the egg yolks so golden).
Backyard Eggs are also Certified Humane, and Non-GMO Verified (this is a big deal since most non-organic hens eat GMO feed). Cost: $5.99/dozen
3. VITAL FARMS
Backyard Eggs and Vital Farms are products from the same company, but the Vital Farms eggs are Certified Organic. The hens are raised in the same way according to similar standards, but all their pasture and feed is organic.
Vital Farms eggs are more expensive, but you are guaranteed eggs from hens who have never been exposed to pesticides or antibiotics. Cost: $6.99/dozen
Vital Farms sell highly nutritious organic eggs raised by healthy, humanely treated chickens. If you can’t raise your own chickens, these are the best we know of.
Check Eatwild’s Pastured Products Directory to find free range eggs near you.
A NOTE ON COST
If you’re buying eggs for less than $3-4/dozen, odds are very good that your eggs come from inhumanely treated hens. It costs a lot to raise hens in the right way, which is why great eggs are priced higher than most regular grocery store eggs. Paying more for eggs guarantees you a better product and your farmer a fair wage, plus ensures better animal and environmental welfare.
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Thanks for reading!