In our home, we go through about four dozen eggs a week. We eat them for breakfast in the form of omelettes and scrambled eggs or as a key ingredient in muffins, paleo pancakes, and more. We oftentimes make hard-boiled eggs or veggie egg muffins for lunch, and sometimes we even use eggs as part of an ingredient for dinner!
These tiny nutritional powerhouses are literally nature’s perfect food since they provide such a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, protein, and healthy fats!
I will be following up this post with another one all about why I believe eggs are one of the healthiest foods you can eat (especially for children and pregnant women).
One of the biggest dilemmas many egg lovers face (besides sunny side up or over easy) is what type of eggs to buy.
What Do All of Those Labels Mean?
Walk into your local supermarket, and you’ll see a wide array of egg options. We have varieties of boxed liquid whole egg and egg whites, organic eggs, pastured eggs, free range eggs, cage free eggs, vegetarian fed eggs, omega-3 eggs, and more! Some people also choose to buy their eggs directly from farmers!
With all of these choices, how is anyone supposed to make sense of these confusing labels and determine which one is the best?
Just your regular carton of eggs…hens are raised in crowded cages without access to nest boxes, perches or litter, removing any opportunity to perform natural behavior (they cannot even stretch their wings).
This deceiving label is all smoke. This might as well just be a regular carton of eggs because it generally is! It means nothing in regards to a hen’s living conditions, feed, or quality of the egg.
Unlike the conditions mentioned under the “standard” heading, these hens have never been confined to a cage. Instead, they have the freedom to roam in their living space (either a building, room or open area) with unlimited access to food and water. Although the hens rarely go outdoors, they can still perform most of their natural behaviors including nesting, walking and stretching their wings.
These eggs come from hens that are fed a diet supplemented with a source of omega-3 fatty acids, often flax seed. This often gives the eggs a deep orange color. Omega-3 eggs are from caged hens unless specified on the label as coming from a cage-free system and there is no consensus on exactly how much omega-3’s are in the eggs.
Similar to omega-3 eggs, this label doesn’t indicate anything pertaining to the actual egg quality or the living conditions of the hens. The only distinguishing difference with these eggs is that the hens receive a feed that doesn’t contain any animal by-products.
This is an unregulated label, but generally it refers to hens that are kept mostly inside but cage-free, and permitted access to an outside space for a significant portion of their lives. One of the biggest benefits to hens that are allowed to roam outdoors and forage for food like small bugs and insects is that these chickens produce eggs that are naturally higher in vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids.
These eggs come from hens that have been fed 100 percent organic, vegetarian feed (other than what they forage on outdoors) free from antibiotics and hormones and have spent at least 1/3 of their lives outdoors. Animal health and welfare standards such as minimum space requirements and provisions for nest boxes, perches and litter have also been met.
What We Eat
In our household, we tend to favor either free-range eggs directly from a farmer, or organic eggs purchased locally.
We have tried many different eggs, and the taste and naturally bright orange color of a fresh, organic egg is our favorite!
So there you have it! Hopefully I have helped to demystify some of the confusion surrounding egg labels and have given you a better idea of the quality of the eggs that you are buying.
Want to know more about why eggs truly are nature’s multivitamin? Check out this post!