Like we learned with eco-labels, consumers have many options!
When it comes to eggs, understanding terms can help make more educated and empowered choices.
Below are some common classifications and terms… there is no quiz at the end.
Free Range: The USDA regulates the use of “free range” only for poultry products, not eggs. Some farms use the term “free range” to denote that hens are permitted to move freely and are not confined in coops. This is more humane than conventional egg farms where thousands of chickens are kept together and require preventative antibiotics to protect against disease due to unusually close quarters.
Cage Free: Cage free means chickens are not kept in cages but does not ensure any access to pasture. Cage free is not the same as free range.
Organic: Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed organically grown feed and are not given antibiotics or hormones. Organic farms are free range. These chickens are cage free and have access to pasture.
Omega-3s: This label appears on some egg cartons. All eggs from pastured chickens are naturally higher in Omega-3s due to the variation in their diet. Additionally, farmers can boost Omega-3 content of their eggs by adding flax seed to the chicken feed.
Color: The color of eggs indicates the type of chicken, not nutrient content. Egg shells can be brown, white, pale green, even blue!
Variety: Duck eggs are considerably bigger than chicken eggs whereas quail eggs are much, much smaller and typically speckled.
Nutrition: Most protein is stored in the egg whites and the yoke contains most of the fat and beneficial compounds (including what aids in the digestion of eggs). Eggs are considered a complete protein due to the type and balance of the amino acids they contain.
There have been numerous studies on eggs, some call them a superfood, some label them health concerns. Ultimately, research hasn’t show an increase in heart disease for those who consume eggs. Eggs do contain some saturated fat but they also contain compounds that help the body digest fat.
What’s your favorite way to use eggs?
Want some inspiration? Check out these recipes!
Source: NCG, National Co-Op Grocers