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Eggsploration: All About Eggs

Eggsploration: All About Eggs

Eggs are a pretty phenomenal source of nutrients. And because they’re cheap and easy to prepare, they’re a staple in most non-vegan eaters’ diets. But not all eggs are created equal. 

You probably already know that from shopping at your local grocery store. While cartons used to be fairly basic, today’s egg options are bedazzled with a dizzying array of info. Beyond showcasing the egg producer’s brand, they give you a little info about the hens that laid said eggs and the lives they lead. Should you care? 

A quick overview of egg terminologies

To help you decide what’s important to you when egg shopping, it’s helpful to get the scoop on what the different labels on an egg carton mean. Here’s what you should know:

  • Organic: When eggs are marked organic, it means the chicken ate feed with minimal pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and commercial fertilizers and didn’t get any hormones. It also means antibiotics were only used if the hens were actually sick, they weren’t forced to molt, they had outdoor access, and they’ve lived in “healthy, low-stress environments.” 
  • Free-range: Free-range is a USDA term that simply means the hens are given access to the outdoors. But that might not be more than a small pen and the USDA doesn’t regulate how much time the farmers have to give the chickens outside.
  • Cage-free: Most egg production facilities that have cages use cages that are smaller than a foot in any direction. When chickens live in a USDA-certified cage-free environment, they can roam freely in their enclosed area (but it’s often in an indoor space). 
  • Certified Humane/Animal Welfare Approved/American Humane Certified: These markers on a carton of eggs mean the hens have safe, humane living environments. You can compare these different labels here
  • If you’ve ever wondered the difference between white and brown eggs, wonder no more. It all comes down to the chicken that laid them. Generally speaking, lighter-colored chickens lay lighter-colored eggs. There’s no notable nutritional difference between different egg colors, though, so don’t stress it. 

    Why you should care

    Chickens who get to spend time outside lay eggs with more vitamin D in them, so it’s worth noting their living condition. Organic eggs tick a lot of the boxes, so they’re a good bet if you’re looking for the best eggs for your health and good conditions for the hens. 

    But if you really care about animal welfare, keep an eye out for Certified Humane, Animal Welfare Approved (the same certification we have for our ICONIC cows), or American Humane Certified labels. 

    Yes, egg shopping is more involved than ever. But you also have way more control over the type of eggs you’re getting — and the type of farming you’re supporting. Get out there and get crackin’!

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