If you’ve become interested in improving the kinds of foods you eat, eggs are probably one of the foods you’ve taken a good look at. There are options out there for those who want better eggs. The hard part is figuring out what “better” really is.
Now my personal favorite eggs are the ones I get from my sister once in a while. She doesn’t live close enough that we get them often, but she has backyard chickens. They roam the yard during the day, eating what they find, plus the scraps the family gives them and the chicken feed my sister uses. I don’t know all the details. I do know the shells are much stronger than the shells on grocery store eggs, and there is a visible color difference in the yolks.
But not everyone has access to backyard chicken eggs even part of the time. It’s worth looking at your options and really knowing what all the terminology really means, because it’s not necessarily what you think.
Note that the color of the eggshell really doesn’t matter. My sister’s chickens product brown or green eggs, depending on the breed, but there’s no difference in the quality of the eggs due to their coloration.
Cage Free Eggs
Cage free chickens have things just a little better than your standard caged chicken. They’re usually in a building full of chickens, crowded, but they can at least walk and stretch their wings. They probably don’t go outside, however. They probably do get treated with antibiotics. It’s an improvement but not much of one.
Free Range Eggs
This one doesn’t usually mean what you think it means. Take your cage free chickens and give them a little access to the outdoors. This does not mean they have access to pasture where they can eat grass and bugs. There are no rules about how long each chicken gets outside.
Organic chickens can usually go outside some, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics. They are also give organic feed. The facilities are inspected annually by an agency with USDA accreditation.
Pasture Raised Eggs
Pasture raised chickens lead the kind of life you’d think free range means. They have free access to come and go from their coop, and can eat grass and bugs as they find them. They are usually given organic feed and not treated with antibiotics. This is as close as you can get to raising your own chickens in the backyard.