Like meats, egg labels tend to be very confusing. There are buzzwords like, "Cage-Free," "Organic," "No Hormones," "Pasture-Raised" etc. But what do those really mean and which eggs should you buy? Let us help you break it down.
Farm Fresh: Honestly, this term does not mean anything! It's just a "marketing term" to try and sell more eggs.
All Natural: Once again this is just a "marketing term" to make the consumer think they are buying eggs from hens who were raised naturally and on a natural diet. However, this term holds no real weight.
Cage-Free: The hens do no live in cages, but this does not mean that they live in their natural environment. They usually live in aviaries: massive industrial barns that house thousands of birds. Each bird has, on average, 1 square foot of space. This increases the chance for diseases, poor air quality and a higher chance of death (due to pecking from another hen).
No Hormones: This term is misleading, because it's illegal to give hormones to poultry, and no large-scale farms in the U.S. do so. It's like putting a label on a cereal box that says, "No toxic waste."
Free Range: Free-range means cage-free plus "access to the outdoors." "Access" typically meaning a few small doors that lead to a screened-in porch with cement, dirt or a modicum of grass (this is very similar to cage-free for the most part).
Organic: Organic standards help lower risk of contaminated feed and organic eggs usually have a higher nutrient quality. Organic eggs must come from hens that are cage-free, fed organic feed and given no hormones or antibiotics. However, remember that organic by itself does not guarantee a natural lifestyle for the egg-laying chickens.
Pasture- Raised: This is the GOLD STANDARD when it comes to eggs! Pasture- raised chickens spend their lives outside with plenty of room to move around. The birds eat their natural diet and are often times rotated through different pastures to ensure a rich & varied diet. The best way to buy pasture-raised eggs is to go straight to a local farmer. Someone that you can trust and that has transparent farming practices.