• Simply Well Done Ambers.

    From Jeff
    February 18, 2010

The Incredible Edible Egg

“Free Range,” “Cage Free,” “Organic”…what does it all mean? Marketing labels are perhaps the most confusing part of this whole “eating healthy” game. So what do the various terms you see on USDA packages actually mean?


Conventional (i.e., no special label) –Usually less than half a square foot of space per hen. Thus, giving not even enough room for the hen to spread its wings.

Cage Free – As the “label” implies, the hens are not confined to cages, they are able to move about inside a barn. This may seem like a better life, but not optimal because actually parts of beaks are often burned to prevent pecking at themselves and others.  Huge a sign of distress!

Free Range – Implies chickens on lush green pastures.  This term is actually not regulated, so it can be used by absolutely anyone.  Really all that’s needed is a door to the outside that gives the chickens “access” to an outdoor area, whether they actually use it or not.  This is a meaningless term!

Organic – This term means the hens were fed organic feed.  No pesticides.

Vegetarian – The hen is fed a vegetarian feed.  However keep in mind that chickens are omnivores, not vegetarians, and will naturally eat bugs, grubs, etc.

*Pastured- This term means the chickens were raised on a pasture, with access to the sun, grass, bugs, and supplemented with grains and other feed.


So which eggs are the healthiest for us?

The USDA will tell you that all eggs are created equal, just as all vegetables, whether organic or not.  Somehow the output from a chicken doesn’t depend on the inputs in the USDA’s world, which is frankly a ridiculous assumption!  It’s like a chicken is a little computer program that always puts out the perfect solution, regardless of how much garbage you fed into the program.  Too bad it’s not reality.

Read the interesting results found in two articles from Mother Earth Newsregarding the nutrition of truly pastured eggs versus USDA “regulated/labeled” eggs (ie: those listed above).

The truly pastured eggs contain:

–  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

–  4 to 6 times as much vitamin D


Wow.  Who knew?  Therefore, we must really challenge ourselves to make an effort to remain active in understanding food terms and labels!

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