Posted on April 3, 2012
Before we get into this post, please don’t forget to get in on this giveaway for a 10-pack of all-natural Orchard energy bars. I’m so excited to share them with you; they will come in handy on the trail or in the yard this spring!
Now, on with how to demystify all those egg labels …
Unfortunately, eggs are no longer just eggs. The choices in the stores are immense, and ultimately, you’ll be (I hope!) eating your beautiful eggs. While the timing for this post is convenient, what you learn here you can keep top-of-mind year-round.
In the good ‘ol days, it used to be that you could walk into a local store or your backyard coop, and there would be one or two kinds to choose from, usually brown and white. These days, unless you are lucky enough to have your own hens, your egg choices have expanded considerably – and probably your level of uncertainty and confusion too.
Blame it on the multitude of labels out there, some of which, unfortunately, can be deceiving. What does it really mean when we opt or don’t opt for eggs that are organic, free-range, or vegetarian-fed?
I was recently gifted (thank you, Mom!) a copy of Earthbound Cook by Myra Goodman, co-founder of Earthbound Farm. I adore this cookbook (even with its meat recipes) because she has peppered it throughout with eco-friendly kitchen lessons, including one on egg label claims (pages 376-377).
As with anything else, knowledge is power and we can vote with our wallet. I found it educational and think you will too. I’ve done my best to summarize your egg choices here:
• Certified Organic: The USDA National Organic Program sets standards and requires annual third-party audits to verify compliance. Hens are uncaged and are required to have outdoor access. In addition, they must be fed a 100% organic all-vegetarian diet made from crops grown without chemicalpesticides, fertilizers, irradiation, genetic engineering, or sewage sludge. The birds can never receive antibiotics or growth hormones.
• Animal Welfare Approved: This is a free program, which audits and certifies family farmers who raise their animals on pasture or range with high animal welfare standards. Chickens must be able to move freely, forage, dust-bathe, spread their wings and engage in other natural behavior.
• Certified Humane: The birds may be kept indoors but are not allowed to be caged. Living conditions must allow natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust-bathing. Hens must be raised with access to shelters, resting areas, and sufficient space. Humane Farm Animal Care, a non-profit organization, certifies producers and conducts third-party audits to verify compliance.
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