Cage Free? Free Range? Organic? Which Eggs are the Best?

Cage Free- Free Range- Organic- Which Eggs are the Best? | Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!

Happy Friday my friends! I hope you had a fantastic Easter (if you celebrate it). My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful time at the beach for the holiday weekend. It was nice taking a break from our normal routine and I gave my body some extra rest since I wasn’t strength training while we were away. We still did a lot of walking on the beach though and found some pretty cool finds!

Crab we found on the beach | Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!
Crab we found on the beach | Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!
Seahorse we found! | Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!
Seahorse we found! | Healthy, Fit & Barefoot!

Even though I wasn’t doing my normal strength workouts I still wanted to keep my protein intake up so I packed overnight oats with me loaded with greek yogurt and almond butter and we made some hard boiled eggs for a quick and healthy snack to eat. If you don’t have an egg allergy, hard boiled eggs are a perfect quick and healthy snack to eat…and don’t be worried about eating the whole egg. The yolk is where all the nutrition is at and the cholesterol that’s in eggs is the good kind of cholesterol for your body.

Speaking of eggs…how do you know which eggs you should be buying? I get this question a lot from my clients and it’s quite confusing to most people. There are regular factory eggs, pastured eggs, pasturized eggs, organic eggs, organic cage-free, organic free range eggs, non-organic cage-free, &  non-organic free range eggs. So…with all the options out there, how do you know which is best?

Organic Eggs -Hens must be given organic feed, which contains no toxic pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides and no GMOs or slaughterhouse by-products. They must never be caged, and they must have outdoor access. The USDA certifies this designation.

  • To get certified organic, hens must be fed ONLY organic feed with no animal by-products (organic feed is less vulnerable to contanimation)
  • Anti-biotics can NOT by used
  • Treated more humanely
  • Unfortunately, in some countries, like the USA, a small outside porch counts as outdoor access

Cage-Free Eggs – Hens must live in an open space, not a cage or a coop, but the “open space” can be inside a crowded henhouse. Both organic and conventional hens can be cage-free.

  • Allowed to roam freely
  • No guarantee to have access to the outside and may never even see daylight
  • Usually fed standard commercial chicken feed
  • Anti-biotics use is unrestricted

Free-Range Eggs – Similar to cage-free, except that birds have some degree of outdoor access—though the amount, duration, or quality of that outdoor time is not specified.

  • Fed a grain mixture but can supplement diet with greens and insects as they roam
  • No restrictions on anti-biotic use
  • Outdoor time can be limited but they have free range to roam

Factory Eggs / Caged Hens – Hens live packed in multi-tiered cages unable to roam, make a nest or even flap their wings.

  • Never see the outdoors or daylight
  • Fed standard commercial diet
  • Anti-biotics use is unrestricted

Pasture-Raised Eggs – Hens are allowed to range on fresh pasture. Often they are housed in trailers that can be towed to different fields.

  • Usually smaller, local organic farms
  • Moved to different patches of land every day allowing chickens to hunt and peck for new crops of grass & insects in addition to organic feed
  • Research finds that these eggs have superior nutritional content. PA State University study found they have 2 1/2 times more omega-3’s and twice the vitamin E
  • Less number of chickens in an area so there isn’t over crowding

My top choice of eggs is to buy local pasture-raised eggs that are fed organic feed and roam freely. Some local farms may call these “free-range eggs” but technically are “Pasture-Raised”.

It’s best to ask your local farmers how the chickens are fed and if they are allowed to roam freely. If you don’t have access to local farms, like if you live in a big city, then I would purchase organic eggs next.

Hopefully, this clears up some confusion and helps you pick the healthiest option that you can afford. My local Amish farm sells eggs for about $1.25 or $1.50 per dozen and I can see the chickens running freely outside every day. Although, they are inside when it snows.

To find local farms in your area: https://www.localharvest.org/organic-farms/

Eat Wild has a great list of pasture-based farms: http://www.eatwild.com/products/

I have found that making hard-boiled eggs is easier when I buy organic eggs instead of using the ones right from the farm. I’m not exactly sure why, but I have read that some people believe it’s because the eggs are too fresh that the shells don’t peel as easily. I have tried so many tricks to try and make them peel easier, but nothing seems to work, so I do buy my organic eggs at the store just to make hard-boiled eggs.

Have you found tried and true tricks for making your hard boiled eggs? Do you buy organic, cage-free, free-range, local? I would love to hear from you!

Stay Healthy my Friends!

XO,

Carrie A Groff

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