Don’t you just love eggs? They’re versatile, delicious, low-calorie, nutritious, and cook up quickly. Because I eat so many, I want the best quality I can buy. That’s not so easy to determine though, is it?
During summertime, I have a friend with chickens who sells me her truly free-range, organic, mucho yummy eggs for a reasonable price. But, come winter, as you know, most chickens go sabbatical. So, I turn to my local supermarkets. Personally, I buy Vital Farms Alfresco Eggs. I like to support their mission and vision, so I made an exception to my usual “buy local” rule in this instance.
The Grand Wall of Eggs
Have you looked at the supermarket’s Wall of Eggs and wondered, “How did this get so complicated?” It’s intimidating! Free range, vegetarian fed, local, organic, non-GMO, Certified Humane, and pasture raised. What do all these terms mean? What do they not mean? Here’s a short primer:
- Free range Hens have outdoor access.
- Vegetarian fed Chicken feed contains no animal ingredients. Hens also had no access to worms, insects, etc. (nutrition boosters), and get no outdoor access. Permitted in feed: GMOs, pesticide and fertilizer toxins, and lots more.
- Non-GMO Means just that: no GMOs in the hen feed. But, synthetic fertilizers, toxic pesticides, artificial colors and flavors, etc, are all allowed. Non-GMO is something, but not much.
- Certified Humane Hens are raised in a manner allowing normal, natural behaviors, and each chicken is allotted 108 sq ft minimum outdoor access year-round to roam, along with other benefits.
- Pasture raised Indicates each chicken has outdoor access on well-managed pastures (sustainable practices). Organic pastures must meet USDA NOP guidelines. (See the USDA NOP and Vital Farms links on my Resources page for a more comprehensive explanation.)
- Organic Eggs are those from non-cloned hens, who have not been given antibiotics or growth hormones, having year-round outdoor access to certified organic pastures—including worms and insects. Hens only fed organic feed, and not exposed to prohibited herbicides, pesticides, or fertilizers.
Besides agricultural designations, there are other factors to consider—like price. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all access healthy, inexpensive, locally raised sustainable food? But, that’s not doable now. So, we must choose: which values matter most to us? What will our circumstances permit? Can we create healthier circumstances?
I invite you to visit my Resources page for links to trustworthy information sources. Although watchdog and consumer groups work to protect the food supply, we are the gatekeepers of our homes. Let’s commit to an informed, balanced, and mindful decision-making process. Food quality affects health, and food dollars drive food supply systems.
I’d be interested in knowing what choices you’re making for your families, and why. Would you mind sharing? Thanks! ~ Deb
What’s your Planet Habit?