- Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs
- “Grain Fed” / “Vegetarian Diet”
- “Omega-3 Enriched”
These are all slogans you see on different varieties of egg packaging at the grocery store. But what do they really mean?
First of all, brown eggs are no more “natural” than white eggs. Different breeds of chickens lay different coloured eggs, and that is that.
“Grain Fed” and “Vegetarian Diet” are both problematic. Chickens are not vegetarians. Ones that are free to roam in the pasture eat insects, which are vital to their, and our, nutritional needs.
What can be considered “Free-Range” by technical standards is not what you picture in your head when you hear the term.
“Allowed access to the outside” is how the USDA defines “free-range.” This inadequate definition means that producers can, and do, label their eggs as “free-range” even if all they do is leave little doors open on their giant sheds, regardless of whether the birds ever learn to go outside, and regardless of whether there is good pasture or just bare dirt or concrete outside those doors! (Mother Earth News)
“Natural” is a big labeling problem – I’m not sure there are ANY regulations on this one.
As far as the Omega-3 enriched eggs, these are basically conventionally raised chickens except their feed is supplemented with an omega-3 source like flax.
What I’ve found is there is no right answer. I’m not sure any of these options are any better or worse than any other. In my local Kroger, for example, they have eggs that range from 0.99 cents to 5.49 a dozen – all with varying packaging materials and marketing slogans. The dollar eggs have simple styrafoam packaging, and the expensive eggs have cardboard packaging with nice fonts and green coloured logos. Each appeals to a different demographic, but they could very well be the very same eggs inside.
Here is a chart that outlines some nutritional differences between conventional eggs and true free-range eggs.
The only way to know for sure that the eggs you are feeding to yourself and your family are chock full of nutrition is to purchase them from a local farm. John Henry’s sets up at the Royal Oak farmers market on Saturday mornings, Birmingham farmers market on Sunday mornings, and does bi-weekly delivery to many cities in Michigan.
Believe me, you will taste the difference. And for $5.00 a dozen, you can’t beat it! The best part about the eggs from John Henry’s is opening up the carton in the morning and seeing this:
For more reading on the health benefits of pastured eggs, read Meet Real Free-Range Eggs