Alright, let's talk about [chicken] eggs!
Last night I had my son help me with this little experiment. We bought a carton of conventional, white eggs from the grocery store and collected a carton of our own free-range chicken eggs. For those of you that don’t know, I live on a grass fed, organic, dairy farm and with that, comes our free-range chickens!
First let’s break down the type of chicken eggs that are readily available for purchase in supermarkets-
Battery-Cage Eggs AKA Regular Conventional Eggs: These hens are confined to a space that’s roughly the size of a piece of computer paper, unable to spread their wings- for their entire lives. They are fed grains, usually genetically modified organism (GMO) grains.
Brown Eggs: The color of your eggshell means absolutely nothing. You wouldn’t pay more for a black iPhone than a white iPhone, would you? Eggs come in a variety of colors- brown is no better than a white, green, or blue egg.
All-Natural, Farm Fresh, Hormone-Free: Just like your brown egg, these words mean nothing when it comes to egg selection. These words are greenwashing at its finest!
*”Greenwashing is when green PR or green marketing is deceptively used to promote the perception that an organization's products, aims or policies are environmentally friendly.”*
Cage-Free: I hope you haven’t been spending money on these! The 12 count conventional eggs we purchased for this experiment were $0.89. Sitting right next to those eggs, were the cage-free 12 count for $2.48. These chickens are packed by the thousands into multi-level aviaries (glorified chicken coops)! Essentially these chickens live in a warehouse, not in battery-cages, but still never get to see the outdoors.
Free-Range: When I think of free-range, I think of chickens frolicking through fields. WRONG! The USDA just mandates these chickens “have access to the outdoors.” Access to the outdoors is very different than actually going outdoors.
You are what you eat! Think about it, if you lived on grain, would you be healthy? Chickens are omnivores by nature and will eat (or try to eat) just about anything they can get their beaks on. When outdoors, chickens will usually eat protein and vitamin-rich foods like insects, grubs, vegetation and seeds.
When a chicken is fed mainly grain, they miss out on the flavonoids and carotenoids that bring increased nutrition value to the eggs we eat- along with their own health.
What does this mean? It means that on top of functioning like a chicken should, free-range chickens eat a surplus amount of flavonoids and carotenoids! This is good for us egg-eaters.
According to a study done by Mother Earth News, here’s how real free-range eggs compare to traditional, commercial eggs:
My suggestion is, do everything you can to buy local free-range chicken eggs! Go to the farmer’s market, stop and visit an Amish family selling eggs, branch out and find friends that have their own chickens, etc. Sure, spending $0.89 at the store seems a whole lot easier, but so does keeping chicken in cages- and we now know that consequence.
Let’s get back to health,
Dr. Taryn Stittleburg, DC, CFMP, PSc.D