Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

$4 Organic Eggs Actually Healthier Than $2 Conventional Eggs?

Conventional vs. organic eggs: what's the difference?

A lone hen escapes the battery cages

Photo: Farm Sanctuary (flickr)

A battery cage egg farm with an escaped hen on the walkway between the tiers of battery cages. Are there health benefits to pastured eggs as opposed to those harvested by conventional egg farming methods?

The recent salmonella outbreak has highlighted the negative effects of inhumane egg farm conditions, but what are the differences between a regular carton of eggs and one marked organic or free range/cage free?

Free range eggs are laid by hens that have regular access to an outdoor, vegetated pasture. Studies by Penn State University and by Mother Earth News report that free range chickens produced eggs that contained at least double the vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventional eggs. Additionally, Mother Earth News found the pastured eggs contained less cholesterol and saturated fat and more vitamin A than conventional eggs.

Companies like Country Hen and others often find loopholes around these regulations, and can achieve organic status if they provide the chickens with cages into the air instead of actually to pasture. It seems that the best way to have the healthiest eggs is to research the company or buy locally.

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Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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