I’m sure if you are reading this, you’re one of those people who buy eggs nearly every week, yet stare at the eggs section and look at all the options. White, brown, free-range, vegetarian-fed, cage-free, omega-3 enriched, organic, pastured—what the hell, I just want some eggs! Well my curiosity finally got to me, and I looked a bit into the differences of each.
First of all, I think most of us who are vegans, conscious vegetarians, or paleo, are all in agreement that we don’t want any battery eggs. No thanks. This incredibly inhumane condition produces a subpar form of this (normally) healthy food. That being said, which of the many “healthier eggs” is best for the chicken and your own wellbeing? In this article, I break down the different types of eggs to give you the pros and cons of each. But if you just want to know the answer (like I would), just click here.
Regular Grade-A White or Brown Eggs (Conventional)
I will start off by saying that the difference between white and brown eggs is non-existent. That’s about the only pro to these eggs, other than the fact that each one has seven grams of protein.
Now, if you’re like my parents, you’re wondering, “What’s wrong with these eggs? I’ve been eating them my whole life and I’m perfectly healthy.” My motto with health and fitness has always been, “If you’re the happiest you could possibly be, don’t change anything you’re doing.”
Some vegans and other hardcore health advocates might get angry when they hear something like that, but my philosophy is: if someone is truly happy, the amount of positivity that would be spread to the world from that person would negate the amount of negativity caused by their environmentally unfriendly dietary decisions.
But going back to these eggs, they not only force the chickens into inhumane situations like battery cages, but they’re also inferior in terms of nutrition. Aside from that, these egg farms do a lot of shady things, such as simply mass murdering all of the male chicks because the cost of raising them as chickens exceeds their budget. I don’t agree with this tactic at all, and for that simple reason, I stay away from these kind of eggs.
This term is simply laughable. For one, it means nothing to me for the sheer fact that the chickens could be getting fed GMO corn and they could even say they were fed a vegan diet. The terminology gives the illusion to those who may not read into the behind-the-scenes stuff (as much as I and those of you reading this article) that the chickens are healthier, but, NEWSFLASH: chickens are omnivores! They eat bugs. Just like your dog would be feasting on a cute little rabbit or maybe even a gazelle if they could catch one if it were in the wild—bottom line: they’re not vegan! Or vegetarian for that matter. So this phrasing the egg companies use is really nothing more than a marketing ploy. Cue the disappointing cartoon sound effect.
Cage-free eggs are what I am guilty of purchasing and are the marketing ploy of the decade. Cage-free only means the chickens are not in battery cages. They can still be in very close quarters and in most cases are—And by close, I mean real close. Most times the quarters are only the size of a Macbook, presenting very inhumane conditions for the chickens to live in.
We’ve encountered yet another example of a misleading marketing ploy. While free-range is a little better than cage-free, it does not guarantee that you’re getting healthy chickens roaming around a pasture. According to USDA regulations, the chicken needs only to have ACCESS to a door leading outside, and doesn’t actually need to go outside to be considered free-range. With that being said, however, Mother Earth News suggests these eggs are in fact healthier than the average. According to a study conducted by the site, free-range eggs had significantly higher health benefits than conventional ones.
Free Range vs Conventional
- 33% less cholesterol
- 25% less fat
- 66% more Vitamin A
- 100% more Omega-3’s
- 200% more Vitamin E
- 600% more beta carotene (this is probably why the yolks of good eggs are so dark)
According to the USDA, organic eggs “come from uncaged hens that are free to roam in their houses and have access to the outdoors. The hens are fed an organic diet of feed produced without conventional pesticides or fertilizers.”
Okay, so this is good news, but pay attention to the wording. Once again, we see “access to the outdoors.” This doesn’t guarantee they are actually roaming outside as chickens would naturally do; however, it does seem like these eggs are the healthiest you can get with exception to the ones below this.
I initially heard this term through Dave Asprey, the guy who started that crazy cool coffee trend where people put grass-fed butter and MCT’s in their coffee, who said something about eating eggs, then alludes to “pasture-raised of course.” I initially didn’t really know what that meant, even though I worked at Whole Foods at the time. When I finally looked for them at the grocery store, I saw they were $7! I then remembered how he so casually alluded to the fact that he ate them and laughed. “Oh pasture-raised, of course. PSHH. I can’t afford this shit!” Literally never gave these a second thought until recently, hence why I’m writing this article.
As of now, people are saying pasture-raised is the term to go for. Penny hoarder actually wrote a decent article (one I wouldn’t expect from them considering the topic) about this, and say these are the best on the market, but could be hijacked by conventional farmers at any time, due to the fact that the term isn’t regulated by anyone. For this reason, I’m a little skeptical.
Another thing Penny hoarder said, which is actually incorrect, is they assumed the perceived health benefits of pasture-raised eggs are the same as Free-Range, a term they basically said was hype, yet the article they sourced for that information conducted their study with free-range eggs. Now, it’s assumed the health benefits of free-range would absolutely carry over to chickens that are even healthier, but that’s just the thing, they’re healthier. I would assume the health benefits of TRULY PASTURED EGGS would be heads and tails better than random free-range ones, but without anyone regulating them, WHO KNOWS!
My Bottom Line
However, if you have the money and or are willing to spend it to possibly better your life in the long-term, buying pasture-raised eggs is definitely the way to go (assuming the term doesn’t get hijacked by the conventional farmers sometime soon).
Though I can’t cosign the site’s validity, Cornucopia has an online egg scorecard rating 136 egg producers on 28 different criteria and it seems legit. I was shocked to see the local farm eggs I buy in Ohio (Sauder’s) are from confined chickens and are only a 2 star rated farm! Not-so-shockingly though, Vital Farms’ (Pasture Verde) Pasture-Raised eggs (the ones you see in Whole Foods and other local grocery stores) were only a four-star candidate beneath a hefty list of other 5-star egg producers, mainly ones from Western United States. But Vince, you mean the midwest isn’t progressive-minded when it comes to food production?! “Whaaaa?” (Colin Cowherd voice) Shocking.
I hope you enjoyed this article and it was useful for you. I know I learned a lot in writing it and I hope that was reciprocated to you all through my writing. Whether you choose to buy into the pasture-raised terminology or not is up to you, and whether you choose to try the farms Cornucopia recommends is also TOTALLY up to you, do what you want—you’re a grown-up for God’s sake! You earned it buddy. But do me a favor and don’t do anything blindly. That’s all I ask.
Here are the sources I used that I refuse to put in proper format. I’m done with that college shit.