If you’re looking for the healthiest eggs to eat to add to your healthy diet, you should prioritize pasture raised eggs.
The term “pasture-raised” may initially seem confusing because there are so many different types of eggs available on the market.
But don’t worry; we’re here to help! This post will explain pasture-raised eggs, why they’re the gold standard, and how you can find them in your area.
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Why prioritize pasture-raised eggs?
Pasture-raised eggs come from chickens free to roam and forage on grassy pastures. This contrasts with most commercially-raised chickens, confined to crowded cages inside warehouses without access to the outdoors.
The living conditions of pasture-raised chickens are much more humane, and they can also eat a more natural diet that includes bugs and plants. This results in eggs that are higher in nutritional content.
Why are pasture-raised eggs the gold standard?
Pasture-raised eggs are not only more nutritious than other types of eggs, but they also taste better.
If you’ve ever tried fresh, farm-raised eggs, then you know how different they are from the ones you find in the grocery store. They have a richer, more robust flavor; the yolks are deep yellow or even orange.
Pasture-raised eggs increase the nutritional content
It’s no wonder that pasture raised hens who live in a healthy environment and are fed properly, produce healthier, more nutritious eggs than those who are caged up and never experience outdoor living and never get their fresh air.
Let’s start with the fact this is one of the highest-quality proteins for those that stick to a low carbohydrate diet. One large egg has 7 grams of protein, and it contains all the essential amino acids your body needs to perform optimally.
Eggs from pasture-raised chickens have up to twice as many omega-three fatty acids, and they also contain higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
But what about cholesterol?
You may have heard that eggs are high in cholesterol and that you should avoid eating them if you’re trying to lower your cholesterol levels.
First, only 20% of cholesterol comes from our diet. Second, pasture-raised eggs have less cholesterol than commercially-raised eggs. So, in terms of nutrition, the benefit exceeds any potential risk from cholesterol.
How are they different than other types?
Now that you know what pasture-raised eggs are and why they’re the best choice, let’s take a look at some of the other types of eggs that you might find on the shelves. The next tier down would be free range.
Free Range eggs:
Free-range eggs come from chickens that have access to the outdoors, but there is no guarantee of how much time they spend outside. The hens may or may not have access to grassy pastures.
Then you have cage-free eggs that come from chickens that are not kept in cages but may still be confined indoors. The hens may have some space to move around, but they don’t have access to the outdoors
Finally, you have conventional eggs that come from chickens that are typically confined to cages inside warehouses with no outdoor access.
Big commercial egg producers will typically use this method as it’s the cheapest way to raise chickens. These hens are usually fed an unnatural diet of grains and soy, which doesn’t support animal welfare.
What are the other confusing terms about eggs?
Now that we’ve gone over the different types of eggs, you might be wondering about some of the other terms you see on egg cartons.
Organic eggs come from chickens that are fed an organic, vegetarian diet and are not given antibiotics or hormones, and they still may or may not have access to the outdoors.
The term “natural” is not regulated, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to eggs.
Brown vs White Eggs:
The color of an egg’s shell is determined by the breed of chicken. Brown eggs tend to come from larger breeds, while white eggs come from smaller breeds. The nutritional content of brown and white eggs is the same.
The eggs are regulated by the USDA
The Egg Safety Rule went into effect in 2010 and focuses on the producers of 50,000 or more laying hens.
Under the provisions of this regulation, egg producers are required to adopt safety measures to minimize risks associated with pests, rodents, and other hazards; purchase chicks and hens from suppliers that manage for Salmonella in their flocks; and comply with testing, cleaning, and refrigeration requirements to prevent SE.
So, even though the USDA regulates the labeling of eggs to ensure that consumers are not misled about the content or quality of the eggs they’re buying, it doesn’t mean you are buying the highest quality.
For example, terms like “fresh,” “pure,” and “natural” can only be used if the eggs meet certain criteria, but as we have already stated, they don’t mean much to how healthy the eggs actually are.
There is a Better Way!
Bonus: for the environmentally conscious
In addition to being more delicious, pasture-raised eggs are also better for the environment. The chickens that lay them have a much smaller carbon footprint than their industrially-raised counterparts.
In addition, because they’re allowed to roam freely outdoors, they are instrumental to effective regenerative farming practices that restore healthy soil and a biodiverse environment.
Now, let’s find our eggs
Now that you know all about the healthiest eggs possible, and if you’re interested in trying them but aren’t sure where to start, there are a few to consider.
You may be able to find pasture-raised eggs at a grocery store that specializes in natural or organic products. I have had success with my store carrying the Vital Farms brand.
Vital Farms pasture-raised eggs come from family farms in the United States. Our hens are humanely raised with plenty of room to roam and forage on our pastures. The result is delicious, nutritious eggs that are better for you, the farmers, and the planet. Plus, they do a great service by ensuring proper packaging from the local farmers they source from.
Egg Packaging Code and Freshness
Purchasing fresh eggs from a grocery store or farmer’s market can take time and effort. Therefore, the USDA requires that all egg cartons carry a code indicating the packaging date and the farm where they were laid.
This code is usually a three-digit number on an egg container’s side or end panel.
In this Julian system, the Julian date is a three-digit code representing the consecutive day of the year, starting with 00, 01 for January 1st and going up to 365, which would be December 31st. So, for example, if you see “001” on your carton, it was packaged on the first day of the year.
Purchasing fresh eggs from a local farm or farmer’s market is the best way to ensure they are as fresh and healthy as possible.
You can find local small family farms near you or local farmer’s markets. You’ll likely be able to find several vendors selling eggs from pasture-raised chickens, and you can ask them about their specific practices.
Dutch Meadows offers online shopping and delivery.
- Pastured Free Range Eggs
- Conveniently Shipped in Protective Packaging
- Bulk Discounts Available
You can also check out other online directories like LocalHarvest.org or EatWild.com to find a farm near you. You can evaluate the quality with a helpful scorecard.
Wrapping it up
I hope this article helped clear up some misconceptions about egg production methods.
If you’re looking to improve your health, pasture-raised eggs are the best option. These eggs have been instrumental to my ketovore diet results. They aren’t only more nutritious than other types of eggs, but they taste better too!