The average person is typically driven by sales, good deals, and great finds. Unfortunately, when it comes to our grocery cart, we need to be apprised of what that good deal really means. When one package of eggs is priced at $0.99 and the other is $4.95, it’s hard not to buy based on price. But, let’s talk about what you’re really buying and, more importantly, what you’re not buying.
Farm Fresh These eggs are typically priced the cheapest, going for around $0.99 a dozen. Why so cheap? Well, these chickens are treated like machines to produce as many eggs as possible while only being fed the cheapest food available. In addition, these chickens are caged with no ability to roam.
Cage-Free Generally priced around $2.50 a dozen, these eggs are generated from chickens who are not caged. But, to be cage-free does not necessarily grant access to the outside world. While they can roam, they cannot go outside. Remember though, these chickens are also being fed ground up cow or poultry parts (like some Farm Fresh chickens). So, if you’re a vegetarian you can stay in the same price range so long as you ensure the label states “Vegetarian Feed”, “All Natural” or “Omega-3 Enhanced.” Keep in mind, however, these three distinctions do not mean the chicken is cage-free, simply on a healthier diet.
Free-Range The notion of free-range simply takes the price from $2.50 to $4.00. While the animals are able to roam and have access to the outdoors, this does not mean that they actually experience the outdoors. All that is required in order to be free-range is the option to access the outdoors, but nothing more.
Certified Organic Entering the $4-$5 range, these chickens receive a vegetarian certified organic diet while also having the ability to roam. Though, not unlike the cage-free category, these chickens are not caged, but typically do not have access outdoors.
Pasture Raised Eggs jump around $10 a dozen with this label. These eggs are produced from chickens that are free to roam wherever they like eating grass seed, grains, insects, worms, and, naturally, what is best for a chicken’s diet.
Overall, it’s more than just a price tag. For some, it becomes an ethical issue and a health issue. Whether or not you find an animal being caged cruel or not, the nutrient quality of the egg is dependent upon what it is being fed. With that being said the best nutritional value eggs (proving to contain almost 20% less cholesterol) are those labeled, “Vegetarian Feed”, “All Natural”, “Certified Organic” or “Pasture Raised.”