Well, in the commercial egg industry the answer is easy; the egg comes first and the chicken is just a means to the egg.
What this means for us as consumers is that we need to do our homework if we want to eat healthy eggs from healthy chickens and not just blindly trust the egg carton label.
That'd be a big mistake.
The reason being that there actually isn't much regulation in the egg industry, so chicken farmers can pretty much get away with murder, and they do.
So let me break it down for you, so that the next time you're pushing your shopping cart through the grocery store aisle, past the dozens and dozens of eggs, you are informed.
When it comes to deciphering labels, YOU the consumer, have to take charge of your health, because no one else is going to do it for you. Know that just because it says "cage free," it doesn't mean the chickens are frolicking in the sunshine on prairie grass.
C'mon, we know better than to think that's true by now. There are tons of articles and documentaries about CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) and abused and battered hens in factory farm cages.
Don't let the marketing lingo on the box fool you. Educate yourself to make the healthiest choice for your body and your brain.
So let's take a look at some of your choices and find out what the 'CLUCK' those labels really mean?
Ignore this. It's the egg farmers way of getting their eggs graded by the USDA to charge higher prices. It doesn't really mean a whole lot!
Thousands of chickens housed together in a dark warehouse. Not as confined as battered hens in cages, but still, who wants to live their entire lives in a crowded factory?
Thousands of chickens housed together in a warehouse, but they have access to the outdoors. This can be blatantly misleading because in such a crowded space, they most likely can never make their way outdoors, even if they wanted to.
And having been born and bred under these conditions, they likely aren't even aware the outdoors exists!
This simply means, as long as it has USDA Certified Organic label, that the chickens eat a veggie, organic diet and aren't given antibiotics or animal by-products to eat.
What we don't always hear is these chickens live the same lives as cage-free and free-range chickens except that their diet is healthier, even though it's still not even close to their natural diet.
Put that carton down! This is a blatant marketing ploy and I fell for it, for years. These chickens live in the same cramped warehouses as described above. They eat a poor diet, which results in less omega-3 in them, which is why they get supplements in their feed, such as flaxseed.
It's like stripping the vitamins out of oats and then claiming they are packed with vitamins, because they are factory-added!
ALL NATURAL FARM FRESH
Don't be fooled by these terms. They dupe you into believing the product is healthy. If it says nothing else on the label to indicate its stature in the egg world, they are likely battered chicken eggs.
These chickens live in tiny little cages and are fed animal products, hormones and genetically modified corn and soy. Like a chicken zoo, but worse!
SO WHAT EGGS SHOULD I BE LOOKING FOR?
DON'T BE DISCOURAGED; THE ANSWER IS COMING!
"PASTURED OR PASTURE-RAISED"
These terms refer to chickens living the happy, outdoor lives they were born to live. They run around on fresh pastures, eating healthy grain, seeds, plants and insects.
These eggs have 1/3rd less cholesterol, 1/4 less saturated fat, 2/3rds more Vitamin A, 2x's more Omega-3, 3x's more Vitamin E and 7x's more beta carotene, than any other eggs out there.
WHERE CAN I BUY PASTURED EGGS?
VITAL FARMS, PETALUMA PASTURES, CLOVER & THE HAPPY EGG COMPANY can be found in many different supermarkets, like Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Raley's and even Target, Walmart and CostCo, but the best place, by far, is to get your pastured eggs at your local Farmer's Market.
These eggs are a little more expensive, but you and your family are worth it!
So while you're enjoying your new Pastured Eggs grab yourself my 'free' list of 30 balanced great tasting snacks....