EGGS: Pastured vs. Cage Free vs.Free Range

Eggs. I love them. My 16 month old and I eat them for breakfast nearly every morning. They’re full of nutrients, but make sure you eat the WHOLE egg, yes even the yolk.  Why are eggs so good for you? Well, first of all they are a protein powerhouse. One egg has 6 grams of high quality protein in it, so you if you 2 eggs every morning, you’re starting your day with a good amount of protein. Eggs also contain Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Omega 3s, cholesterol, and fat (cholesterol and fat are both good for you despite what you’ve heard).

Now, the hard part. Deciphering between all the egg lingo on the cartons at the grocery store or farmers market. “Cage Free,” “Free-Range,” “Vegetarian Fed,” and the list goes on. I used to be just as confused as you when choosing eggs. I thought that I was doing the right thing by buying “organic free range” eggs. Now that I’ve learned the difference between the labels, I want to share them with you. Here you go:

CAGE FREE: In my mind, I’m thinking chickens roaming around in the grass when I read these words. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. All “cage free” means is that the chickens are not kept in a cage. They can still be kept in tight quarters with no room to walk around. They have little to no access to outdoors, and are left standing in their own poop.

FREE RANGE: Another label that sounds really good and makes you think that the chickens are treated in a healthy manner. “Free range” means that the chickens have to have some exposure to the outdoors. There are no regulations for how long or how big the space is. (Think of a big warehouse that has a door to the outside with a small area for chickens to stand in.) Some of these spaces are so crowded full of chickens that some chickens don’t even make it to the outdoor space.

VEGETARIAN FED: We may see this label and think, “Ok, these chickens must be healthy since it sounds like they eat vegetables.” WRONG. Chickens were never intended to be vegetarians. God created them to eat bugs and insects. “Vegetarian fed” chickens were raised on industrialized, genetically modified feed. These chickens are never allowed outside.

PASTURED: **This is the GOLD STAR for eggs & what you want to look for in eggs. Your best bet is to find these eggs at a farmers market or from someone you know who raises chickens. Pastured eggs mean that the chickens are raised in the pasture, free to roam around in the grass as they please. Some farmers still feed their chickens soy, so be sure to ask questions to find eggs from chickens that were not fed soy. (Or other GMOs) Pastured eggs are much less likely to carry salmonella. Factory raised chickens’ risk of salmonella increases dramatically because the chickens are pumped full of antibiotics and GMO feed, as well as having no exposure to sunshine, thus they are sick and unhealthy.

Mother Earth News did a study in which they compared the nutrients in real pastured eggs to supermarket eggs.

Compared to supermarket eggs (from factory farms), real pastured eggs have:

5 times more vitamin D

2/3 more vitamin A

2 times more omega-3 fatty acids

3 times more vitamin E

7 times more beta carotene

Thanks to Cheeseslave for this nutrient break down.

So yes, pastured eggs cost more…..but when you look at it from a nutrient standpoint, you’re getting more nutrients for your buck with pastured eggs compared to supermarket eggs. Pastured eggs also taste MUCH better and have more flavor. Compare them for yourself. You won’t want to go back to factory farm eggs.

This is an AMAZING video of why you want to buy pastured eggs, and why the eggs you’re buying at the grocery store are not what you think they are:

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