Have you noticed that there are so many choices when it comes to buying eggs, it is not only confusing but you have got to wonder if the way the cartons are labeled is misleading. How do you decifer those labels? If the label says Cage Free you would assume those chickens get to run around on a pasture because they weren't caged and eat grass and bugs all day. Well follow along with me and lets just see how free, how healthy, your choice of store bought eggs really are.
*Cage Free: These chickens are raised with no cages. But did they ever get to see daylight? More than likely they were raised in a overcrowded barn without bars, having never seen what is was like on the outside.
* Grass Fed: A chicken that is grass fed you would hope would have access to pasture land and was able to eat all kinds of grasses. They should not be supplemented with any antibiotics or hormones to encouge growth or even grains to make them fatter. But that is not necessarily so, they can be pasture raised but they are more likely to be raised in confinement and fed grass andthey can be given antibiotics if they have disease.
*Free Range: If a chicken is a free range chicken it should have access to the outdoors each day. But unfortunately that may not be the case. Did you know that if a carton says Free Range on it, that can mean that if its a laying hen used only for eggs that it can be raised in a barn and never see a blue sky outside. Legally, that chicken can be a Free Range chicken if the barn doors are left open for a certain amount of time, but never allowing the chicken outside.
*100% Vegetarian Fed: These chickens have been raised on grasses, hay, and other kinds of weeds found on pasture land. But that does not mean they ever touched their feet on pasture land or see a sunrise. Most of the time these chickens are being raised on corn and other grains and grasses. They can be given supplements and additives if the farmer chooses, while being raised in a overcrowded barn.
*Natural: This is the buzz word of the day. The word NATURAL does not tell you how the chicken was raised, it could be raised in a cage that is crowded with a ton of other chickens and still be considered having natural eggs. It also means the chicken can be raised with antibiotics and hormones. What the label NATURAL does have to state is whether the egg was artifically colored, was processed or has any artificial ingredients.
*Organic: There are alot of standards that have to be met to get the Organic Label on anything, and they are all controlled by the USDA. Those standards are that the chicken cannot be grown using sewage sludge (yes that's a common feed for chickens) cannot be genetically modified, irradiated or pumped full of chemicals (antibiotics or hormones). The chicken must have access to the outdoors, which just means the outdoors is available, they may or may not ever go out there.
*Pasture Raised: This is how every animal should be raised. And in a time not too long ago farmers did raise their animals on the pasture. They are raised humanely and they eat grasses, bugs and whatever else is available in the soil. The big caveat here is whether the farmer is using chemicals on that pasture, if so the chickens are consuming those chemicals, which in turn means you are eating eggs that may have fertilizer or insecticides in them.
These are the most common labels you see on a carton of store bought eggs. Which one is the right one for you and your family?