Photo: Farm Sanctuary (flickr)
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.
- Research Shows Eggs From Pastured Chickens May Be More Nutritious (Penn State University)
- Are Organic Eggs Really Healthier and Tastier and from Happier Chickens than Conventional Eggs? (Organic Consumers Association)