Confused about which eggs to buy? With a myriad of labels to choose from, the egg aisle can be totally overwhelming. Let’s take a look at the best options.
FAQ: Is there a difference between white and brown eggs? No. Only the color and the kind of chicken that laid it. Brown eggs are not more nutritious than plain white eggs.
These are your best options:
- Pastured Eggs: Here’s the rock star of eggs! Always buy these if you can! Unfortunately, you’re not likely to find them at a typical grocery store (and if you are, count yourself very lucky!). These are true free-range eggs and usually come from a local source that allows the chickens to forage their faves like worms and bugs. Most chickens also eat supplemental feed which is hopefully organic. This all depends on your local farmer, so be sure to ask what the chickens are eating. Do a little investigating to find pastured eggs near you, like a farmer’s market. It’s absolutely worth the effort; the nutritional profile of a pastured egg is definitely superior to a supermarket counterpart. This is reflected in the color richness of the yolk (see pic below). When chickens eat what they are meant to eat, their eggs offer a nutritional power punch!
- Organic Eggs: This means the chickens are given feed with little to no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or fungicides. Any time you can reduce the chemical load in your food, that’s a good option. This doesn’t mean the chickens are treated well OR that they are eating what they are supposed to be eating. But, hey, we’ve got to work with what’s available to you, and this is a decent option.
- Omega-3 Enriched Eggs: This usually means the chickens are fed some flax or fish oil to boost the Omega-3 content. We all need more Omega-3s in our lives, so these are a decent option too.
(If you can find eggs that are organic AND omega-3 enriched then that’s an even better option. They’re not available in my area, but if they are in yours, buy those!)
This photo shows a pastured egg with its rich yellow/orangey yolk, an organic cage-free egg, and a plain ‘ol white egg. There’s little difference in yolk color between the organic and the standard egg:
The rest of the labels you see are pretty much marketing ploys:
Cage-Free Eggs: This evokes images of happy chickens with lots of space to roam. Not likely. Just because they’re not in a cage doesn’t mean they’re outside in the fresh air or eating an optimal diet. There’s little regulation with this label.
Certified Humane Eggs: These are a little better than cage-free because the standards are better regulated and enforced. However, it still doesn’t mean the chickens are uncaged in an outside environment.
Natural: This means nothing. It’s meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy that you’re buying something naaaaatural.
Free Range: This means the chickens are uncaged and have access to the outdoors, but it doesn’t guarantee they actually went outside or that they have been fed well.
Vegetarian Fed: Chickens are not (by nature) vegetarians. They enjoy worms and bugs…good protein, ya know? But this label means that they are not fed any animal protein. They’re probably eating corn and soy, which is vegetarian but not good for you.
Pasteurized Eggs: These eggs went through an extra pasteurization step to kill bacteria and inhibit food born illness. This might be a good option if you consume raw eggs or foods containing raw eggs.
And there you have it. I hope this helps you navigate the egg aisle with less stress!