CHICKEN & EGGS: Which came first? Doesn’t matter. What matters is how they are RAISED!
Organic vs. Free-Range vs. Cage-Free vs. Pasture-Raised vs. Organic Pasture Raised…. (Wow, right??)

Basic Overview:

  • Cage-Free & Free-Range are highly unregulated labels, and the basic principles are completely voluntary for farmers to adhere to. Even if the guidelines are followed, they are not truly out there foraging for natural food sources on the sunny grassy knoll. Cage free means birds are not confined to cages – but unfortunately it doesn’t mean that they aren’t still confined (and still often placed together in large groups.) Free-Range means there is supposedly outdoor access granted to the birds, though it’s not quantified or monitored, and again – is voluntary. They are often allowed a small hole by which to access the outdoors if they choose. Most often they are able to get out onto another caged-in cement surround, on which there are no grubs, insects or worms to feed on or grass to forage in – or anything at all that might draw them to this outdoor location. [In other words, the suppliers could be making things look better than they really are with a better-than-conventional label (and higher price tag). It is said that most do adhere to the label’s guidelines, as weak as they are. But if you ask me, it’s like guaranteeing that I’m getting enough vitamin D into my system through sun exposure simply because I am allowed to go outside.]
  • Organic (in connection to eggs and chickens) refers to the feed being given the chickens/ egg-laying hens. That feed must adhere to the standards upheld by the organic industry’s third-party-regulators (which may vary by country.) Although it is a higher level of assurance, it still doesn’t cover how they are managed, and they are not necessarily (or likely) getting natural forage from their (again unquantified) outdoor exposure.
  • That leads us to Pastured or Pasture-Raised/ Pasture-Based labels. If it states that the animals are ‘pastured’ or pasture-raised’ – then they are given access to natural pasture for foraging of grasses & insects & grubs, and spend most of their time outdoors in large spaces. *All chickens are supplemented with some degree of feed for their digestive needs – so you are still potentially getting exposure to those residues. Try to find pastured eggs and chicken that are also verified NON-GMO. This is the next best option, and one we often purchase in my family’s household.
  •  Last but not least…. Organic + Pastured labels signal your creme de la creme in eggs or chicken! These birds receive the best conditions, care, and forage & feed. You have outdoor-based animals living on grasses, grubs & insects, plus supplemental feeds that are certified organic (which also means the feed is NON-GMO.) It’s the best thing you can find – next to having access to a local farmer’s market with providers who don’t supplement with feed at all, and whose birds live outdoors by day. (Or owning your own backyard chickens!) *{We have recently transitioned to these. After all, they are only a dollar more than the non-gmo eggs!}

Bottom line is this: Organic + Pastured is obviously the best. It’s going to cost you a bit more – but when you add up the benefits, I happen to think it’s worth it. I also happen to believe in the value of authenticity. I will pay more for the real deal over a mock-up any day! Did you want that diamond, or that cubic zirconia? You’ll obviously pay more for the diamond, and get more enjoyment from it too. But here’s the thing. Sometimes I’ll go for a less-costly diamond too… Maybe it’s not as rare. My version of this is the Pastured, non-GMO eggs that still sit only slightly below the top-shelf organic, pastured eggs. *{When deciding between organic & non-gmo – NON-GMO is more pertinent. We want to definitely avoid GMOs!}

Benefits of Pastured Eggs:

  1. MUCH higher omega-3 content naturally.
    *NOTE: Those touted or advertised solely as “Omega-3-Eggs” are generally conventional eggs being pumped full of those omega-3s via flax seed feeds or other supplemental sources included in their feed. These often mimic hormones within our bodies – so I say, why chance it? I’ll stick with pastured to get that truly natural source of omega 3s in my eggs…
  2. Naturally lower in ‘bad’ fats/ cholesterol and higher in healthy fats (those omega 3s!)
  3. Higher nutritional components, including our much-needed vitamin D, vitamins A & E, beta carotene, & lutein.
  4. We shant leave out that lovely authenticity-value as discussed above. 😉
  5. And obviously – happier healthier birds!

Remember too – whatever we are willing to pay for – will be produced more…. The more production, the greater the competition. The greater the competition, the better the product (usually) evolves to become…. AND – the more they compete on price as well. LET’S INSTIGATE CHANGE. (And send the rest packin’!) We are POWERFUL. Let’s use that power for good!