Why I don’t Believe in All Natural Eggs

Posted by on July 26, 2014

 Ever go to the grocery store to buy your eggs and get lost in all the labeling? I know I did! With about a dozen choices, how does someone choose the best, most high quality egg? Well, it starts with the labeling…As some of you guys may know by now, I’m passionate about high quality, sustainable food. One of my biggest pet peeves in life is deceptive food labeling. Let’s take a look at some of the popular labels out there…

“All Natural”: This term really means nothing. To say something is “natural” just means it wasn’t man made. Its an obvious term since we know we didn’t make the chicken. Kind of a “duh” term.“Vegetarian Feed”: To any unbeknownst customer it may seem appropriate that their chickens should eat an all vegetarian diet. Seems plausible. The problem with this term is that chickens are not vegetarians at all. Quite the opposite! Chickens who are allowed to roam free in their natural environment eat all sorts of things.  Grasses, flowers, seeds, bugs, mice, small snakes and any other small forms of protein they can get their beaks on.

“Cage Free”: This one really kills me. I know I use to have visions of happy chickens frolicking in grassy meadows. The label of cage free is the biggest insult I can think of. For this term it means that yes, these birds are not crammed in to tiny wire cages but instead they are now crammed in to one large ware house which is just one big cage.

“Free Range”: This term is similar to “cage free” but the difference is that if the chickens have the opportunity to venture outside of the ware house they can deem it “free range”. What they consider to be an “opportunity” is a very small door that they can walk through. There is no regulation on how much time or when these poor birds are allowed to roam. The other problem with this label is that these chickens normally choose not to go outside. Why? Because they know the ware house is their source of food. Why would they go outside when they have never been out there and they know they get guaranteed food and shelter.

Now that we’ve gone over the key terms to look out for let’s look at some of the terms we should look for as positive ones:

“Pasture Raised”: This term in particular is key. You want your chickens to be able to roam in open pasture looking for bugs, eating grasses, seeds and stretching their legs.

“Certified Organic”: This one is a hit or miss for me. I considered not putting it on the list because becoming certified organic is very expensive. Feeding chickens “certified organic” feed means their food has no added antibiotics or pesticides. Again, this one isn’t a deal breaker in my book. If I wanted to start selling my eggs today I’d have to pay a small fortune just to become certified. Even though I know exactly what my girls are eating and I know that they are 100% organic and backyard raised! Ok, so I don’t have rolling green hills to call them pasture, but I have a nice back yard for them to roam in and forage for bugs!

Unfortunately, buying pasture raised eggs is usually not found at your local grocery store. You will have to do some research. You can find wholesome, pasture raised eggs at higher end grocery stores. Another great option is your local farmers market. The best part of buying it from your local farmer is that you can ask questions about their chickens diet and how they are raised.

I was actually introduced to pasture eggs from one of my patients. Making small talk with her lead to me finding out she raised chickens and had eggs coming out of her ears!  With that, she would bring me a dozen eggs every week for $2! I couldn’t beat it and the eggs were amazing. I recommend making small talk, asking around and you just may find that a co-worker, friend or neighbor may be raising chickens of their own. Do your research, ask questions and educate yourself. Eating a real food diet is more enriching when you know where your food is coming from. Tell me where you find your eggs! I’d love to hear your egg-cellent stories!!

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