Organic Eggs from Pasture Raised Hens – is it worth paying a premium?
Did you think that you were being careful by checking that your eggs were not broken in the carton? Read on.
Pasture raised hens produce the most nutritious eggs with deep yellow, almost orange yolks and clear, bouncy whites. For the ultimate egg, look for both pasture raised and organic designations – meaning that the hens have only foraged on organic feed.
My dad who plays tennis and rides his stand-up paddleboard before 7 AM every morning, comes home to organic, pasture raised eggs. They MUST be healthy.
Organic Pasture Raised hens are treated humanely and spend most of their lives outside, foraging year round in open fields and woods – eating a diverse, organic, nutrient rich diet. They return to a safe hen house at night to roost and lay eggs. They may be given additional, organic feed.
“Compared to eggs of the commercial hens, eggs from pastured hens had twice as much vitamin E and long-chain omega-3 fats, more than double the total omega-3 fatty acids, and less than half the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. “Vitamin A concentration was 38 percent higher in the pastured hens’ eggs than in the commercial hens’ eggs, but total vitamin A per egg did not differ.”
Subsequent research suggests that pasture raised hens produce eggs with more vitamin D than other eggs.
Read your egg carton labels carefully before buying:
- Don’t be fooled by the ‘Cage-Free’ label. Although it sounds good, hens can still be raised in smallish enclosures.
- Both ‘Free Range’ and ‘Pasture Raised’ are designations for eggs from hens raised humanely. The difference is that Pasture Raised hens roam in even more open space than their Free Range cousins who can still be restricted to small spaces.
- You still need to look for the ‘organic’ label to ensure that the hens are eating only organic feed. Not all eggs from pastured hens are organic.
- You want ‘Pastured’ eggs, not ‘pasteurized’. The latter describes a low heating treatment for ‘factory’ eggs used to kill bacteria.
The Certified Humane organization is dedicated to creating a more humane world for farm animals by creating standards for space and living conditions. Only farms that meet the Certified Humane standards can use this designation on their labels.
Spoiler. Organic Pasture Raised Eggs are more expensive to produce and to buy than lesser eggs. To make sure that you are getting what you pay for, there are two sites which help you find locally produced, Organic Pasture Raised eggs.
Local Harvest. Just type your zip code into the search box and find local farms that sell organic, pasture raised eggs. Be prepared to work for your eggs, many of these farms require local pick-up.
EatWild is a source for finding wild nutrition from modern food. It claims to be the #1 clearing house for information on pasture-based farming.
Nancy wrote an ASE article on eggs a few years ago which clarified the labels we see on our eggs cartons and makes it easier for us to choose eggs from hens who are raised in a humane environment.
Header Image: www.vitalfarms.com