This morning I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine. I stumbled on an article about eggs.
You know I try to have the best quality food I can have in this house. I am particularly driven to buy organic produce, and organic hormone free dairy and meat. But eggs? Eggs have always mystified me. There are so many choices, even in the health food store, and under the 15 second pressure I have to make my selection I never can figure out which is "best".
When we're struggling financially eggs just seem like one of those things I'm willing to cut corners on. I hate to say this... but it has seemed to me that what I'm paying for is the quality of life for the chickens. And, believe me, I'm all for that. I really am. Enough to spend $3.79 a dozen... when... we have the money.
When we don't I need it for the diary, produce, and meat. Because that effects (in my opinion) the quality of life for my children.
But am I wrong?
Now that school is back in session and Kid takes a hardboiled egg in her lunch bag EVERY SINGLE DAY I make sure to buy the best quality I can afford. But for the eggs I bake with I might buy a cheaper dozen.
But when I think I've paid good money for good eggs and well treated hens... am I?
Turns out sometimes I'm not.
So here is the label breakdown according to Cooking Light:
Birds must be cage free with outdoor access
Cannot be given antibiotics
their food must be organic & vegetarian
Certified Humane Raised & Handled
Meet humane requirements for raising and handling chickens and eggs.
Chickens are out of cages with continuous access to food and water.
They may not have access to the outdoors.
Animal Welfare Approved
Independent family farms with flocks up to 500 birds.
Chickens are free to spend as much time as they desire outdoors on pesticide-free pasture.
Cannot have trimmed beaks.
United Egg Produces Certified
Gives food and water to caged hens.
The following terms are unregulated... so... it might not be wise to pay more for them (ouch! I have!! many times!):
So that is the long and the short of it. I am still unclear if "Free Range" has any meaning (I believe once I watched an expose that revealed that it did not mean what we'd think it meant). Or what it really matters (to me) what feed the chickens are fed (for our health)... in terms of eating their eggs not their meat. If I can find out I'll let you know.