How to Choose Quality Eggs


We don’t have the reply to “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” however we are able to train you How to Choose Quality Eggs!


Choosing eggs ought to be easy.

It actually ought to be however with so many phrases plastered on egg cartons nowadays, it’s exhausting to know for certain which eggs are the most effective eggs in order that’s why at present we’re speaking all about how to select high quality eggs as a part of our Real Food 101 Series.

Want extra Real Food 101? Check out these posts to get your fill of data and turn out to be a savvier shopper: How to Choose Quality Red Meat, Understanding Poultry Labels, and How to Choose Safer Seafood.

But for now, let’s speak about how to select high quality eggs, we could?

So. Many. Terms.

Nowadays, it’s nearly unimaginable to choose up a carton of eggs within the retailer that doesn’t have a smattering of phrases splashed everywhere in the label. From cage-free to vegetarian-fed to farm-fresh, we’re cracking open the thriller behind these phrases to enable you be a wiser shopper.

American Humane Certified: American Humane certifies three sorts of humane laying hen housing: Cage-Free, Free-Range, and Pasture. Each kind meets their rigorous animal welfare requirements. To study extra about specifics such because the minimal quantity of sq. ft per hen, kind of outside enhancements, and many others. 

Antibiotic-Free: Hens that produce licensed natural eggs usually are not given antibiotics until completely essential (during which case, their eggs can not be offered as natural) so that you most likely gained’t see the time period ‘antibiotic-free’ on cartons of natural eggs. Hens who produce eggs for the traditional stream, nonetheless, could obtain antibiotics of their feed and/or water. If they do, then the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) disallows using this time period on the label.


Cage-Free: This merely implies that the hens usually are not saved in cages however they might nonetheless be packed wing-to-wing and beak-to-beak in overcrowded barns which put them in danger for illness transmission, aggression and fewer than sanitary residing situations. Our take is that cage-free is a start however it’s solely a part of the story should you’re involved about animal health and welfare. You’ll want extra data from the label or the businesses web site to decide how the hens had been raised.


Farm-Fresh: Though this time period could deliver to thoughts bucolic farms set amongst a sea of rolling inexperienced pastures, it has completely no weight behind it and isn’t regulated so you’ll be able to ignore it.


Fertile: Rumor has it that fertile eggs (from hens who’ve been hanging across the rooster) are extra nutritious however this doesn’t seem to be wholly backed by science. All commercially raised eggs are non-fertile. Though it isn’t dangerous to eat fertilized eggs if that’s what you’ve gotten entry to they might not price paying extra or going out of your method for.


Free-Range or Free-Roaming: Here’s one other unregulated time period that provides you a little details about hens’ residing situations. This time period merely signifies that the hens weren’t saved in cages and that that they had entry to the outside. It doesn’t, nonetheless, let you know something about how a lot entry they’ve (i.e. the variety of hours per day), whether or not or not that entry leads to grass, filth, or cement, and eventually, whether or not or not the hens even make the most of that entry. In overcrowded barns with small doorways that open to ‘egg porches’ (screened-in cement areas) hens is probably not in a position to even get to the doorways to use them once they’re open.

One exception to this rule is a time period coined by our pals at Organic Valley: “Free-to-Forage”. Chickens are naturally social animals however additionally they take pleasure in free-roaming, mud bathing, perching or roosting, and pecking round for bugs and grubs within the grass and below leaves and straw. Though not a regulated time period, it implies that their hens have all been giving free entry to pasture, contemporary air, and sunshine. In addition to healthy feed, cage-free residing, and different primary care, additionally they provide their hens with behavioral and environmental enhancements resembling bushes or constructions to present shade and a sense of safety, each grass and filth areas within the pasture the place the birds can scratch and dust-bathe, quite a lot of grasses of various heights to entice bugs and provides the chickens locations to discover, loads of doorways to encourage hens to go outdoor, and pure lighting and perches within the barn. (Note: This put up is just not sponsored by Organic Valley. We simply needed to level out a time period that, although not regulated, really has requirements in place which might be monitored and a part of the requirement to be an egg producer within the Organic Valley cooperative of household farmers). 

Another exception is the third-party certification from Animal Humane Certified, a voluntary third-party animal welfare audit program that helps make sure the humane therapy of food animals raised within the United States (see extra above).


Hormone-Free: By legislation, hormones can’t be administered to poultry within the United States so you’ll be able to ignore this time period on the label (the identical goes for whenever you’re buying poultry merchandise for dinner. Read extra about understanding poultry labels right here.)


Humane Farm Animal Care: Certified Humane Animal Care touts themselves as “the leading non-profit certification organization dedicated to improving the lives of farm animals in food production from birth through slaughter.” They are a third-party certifying group whose label communicates to shoppers that the food merchandise have come from amenities that meet exact, goal requirements for farm animal therapy. Click here to study extra in regards to the animal care requirements for laying hens required for eggs to carry this label.


Natural: You most likely already guessed that that is one other bunk time period when added to egg cartons because it actually solely signifies that nothing unnatural has been added to the eggs.


Omega-3: Eggs from hens which might be allowed to roam on pasture and eat bugs and grasses are naturally greater in omega-3’s. Most eggs labeled Omega-3, nonetheless, have been given feed that was supplemented with omega-3’s (often from flax seeds or fish oil).


Organic or USDA Certified Organic: To have the opportunity to declare ‘Organic’ on their labels, farms have to be licensed natural and feed their hens natural hen feed which accommodates solely approved-pesticides, no-GMO components, and no hen or mammal byproducts. The hens should even be cage-free and have entry to the outside as climate permits.


Pasteurized: Pasteurized eggs are regulated by the FDA. Shell eggs are subjected to sufficient warmth to destroy potential pathogens however not sufficient to cook dinner them. These eggs are sometimes really helpful for individuals who are immune-compromised.


Pastured or Pasture-Raised: Though not a regulated time period, it’s typically used to point out that the hens who laid the eggs spend most of their days on pasture. Because chickens, like most animals, want safety from the climate and predators they’ll’t spend their complete lives outdoors. They nonetheless want barns or coops during which to retreat at night time and through opposed climate situations. To discover out whether or not or not the eggs you’re shopping for are really from pastured hens you want to do some analysis. If the farmer is native, ask how the hens spend their days. If you’re shopping for eggs within the retailer, verify the corporate’s web site or give their customer support division a name to discover out extra data.


UEP Certified Regular and Cage-Free: The United Egg Producers oversees the use and requirements of this time period which, in accordance to their web site, implies that “eggs are produced by hens raised on farms dedicated to responsible, science-based methods to ensure optimal hen care for both cage and cage-free housing”. In order to use this brand, producers should implement the UEP Certified requirements on all farms, which is verified by third-party audits.


Vegetarian-Fed: The pure eating regimen for all chickens is one which’s high in protein and carbohydrates. Chicken feed is the primary supply of nutrition and will include soybeans, corn, barley, oats, rye, wheat, and different grains plus seeds for fats. Choosing organically produced eggs means the feed the hens ate was natural, freed from artificial pesticides and non-GMO. Chickens additionally love to peck round for bugs and grubs. And sometimes they’ll snack on tender inexperienced grasses or leaves however they’re not grazing animals so grass doesn’t make up an enormous a part of their eating regimen and bugs and grubs contribute solely a small quantity of protein as a result of they’re extra for satisfying a hen’s pure tendencies to scratch and peck than anything.

Other phrases you would possibly see on egg cartons and what they imply.

Size and Grade: Eggs are graded not solely by high quality (Grades AA, A and B) but in addition by dimension, starting from peewee, small, medium, giant, extra-large and jumbo. Recipes (together with ours) usually use giant eggs until in any other case specified. If you’re inquisitive about how the sizes differ or how you should use them interchangeably in recipes, check out this post which features a helpful chart and tips for substituting eggs of various sizes in your recipes.

According to the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association: “Eggs are graded based on their quality and appearance. Grade AA eggs have thick, firm whites and high, round yolks. Their shells are clean and unbroken. Grade A eggs are like Grade AA, but their whites are “reasonably” firm. Grade A eggs are often offered in shops. Grade B eggs have skinny whites and wider yolks. The shells are unbroken, however would possibly present slight stains.”

Brown vs. White: Whether the egg is brown or white has no bearing on its nutrition. Different breeds of laying hens lay totally different colours of eggs. Eggs might be white, brown, tan, speckled, and even pink, gentle blue or olive inexperienced relying on the breed. What’s necessary when figuring out how to select high quality eggs isn’t the colour of the egg however reasonably how the hens who laid them had been raised.

10 Reasons to Keep Backyard Chickens |

Our suggestions:

As with purple meat, poultry or seafood and shellfish, our suggestion is to select the highest-quality eggs out there in your location and funds, protecting in thoughts the care and welfare and environmental elements at any time when potential. Local farms and yard flocks are the most effective locations to supply eggs however grocery shops may also be a fantastic place to supply this glorious protein supply when you know the way to select high quality eggs. Take the time to learn the labels and use what you’ve realized right here to make the only option for you and your loved ones.

Hungry for extra?

Eggs are some of the versatile meals since they can be utilized in each candy and savory recipes and so they’re a comparatively cheap supply of protein – even should you spring for the costlier ones. If you’re in search of scrumptious recipes utilizing eggs, you’re in luck as a result of we’ve acquired many to select from. Here are a couple of of our favorites:



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About Jessica Beacom

Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist residing in Boulder, CO along with her hubby and two daughters. She’s been described as a ‘actual food evangelist’ and loves sharing her data with others to assist them break freed from the eating regimen mentality and discover their very own food freedom. In her spare time she enjoys CrossFit, telemark snowboarding, mountain biking, educating herself how to play the banjo and tenting out below the celebrities.

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