You walk into the supermarket and see a wide assortment of eggs–there’s organic, free-range, cage-free, standard Grade A, and whatever other labels are popular these days.  Many people don’t think that there’s any difference between organic and non-organic eggs–aside from the price.((Kids especially have no particular favorite when it comes to smashing them all over your kitchen floor–which just happens to be hardwood–now do they?))  Have you ever thought about nutrient content of eggs?  Why do you see eggs with added Omega 3?  How do they get added Omega 3, anyhow, if eggs are supposed to contain them already?  Are eggs really contributors to high cholesterol like the whole medical association of western medicine wants you to believe?

I never really gave much thought to the nutrient content of eggs.  When I buy my organic free-range eggs, I know that I love the deeper yolk color and general flavor.  I know eggs are healthy for you, but I’m not a big fan of eggs so I don’t eat them often (well, unless you include baking with them).  Some nutrients found in eggs include Omega 3, Vitamins D, A, and betacarotene (you know, the stuff you find in carrots), folic acid, B12, lutein, and zeaxanthin (in fact, egg yolks are one of the richest sources of these two antioxidant vitamins).  You will also find cholesterol and saturated fat in eggs.  Now how much of the latter two you find will depend upon the egg you purchase.

Before you set off on your grocery store run, let’s look at some of the labels and what they mean.  You have standard Grade A eggs, for starters.  This label is a complete sham. It is voluntary, it is unregulated, it is a black spot on the USDA procedures.  All this does is allow egg farmers to boost the price of their eggs.  Then you have free-run or free-range eggs.  This is also a bit of a sham if you aren’t familiar with the farmer you get them from.  As this Ohio Pork & Poultr article depicts, free-run/free-range eggs are merely just telling the consumer that the hens are outside their cages some of the time.  Not necessarily in pastures to roam as they should, they could just be roaming on cement floors for 5 minutes, and be deemed free-range/free-run. ((To be fair, there are good organic farms that label their eggs as free-range which are actually cage-free.)) Not exactly what a consumer thinks when they see the price and the title, now is it??  I was quite honestly shocked, myself, at reading that little tidbit of information.  Now what about cage-free/pastured eggs?  These are the “Maserati” of the egg industry.  These are organic farms that truly care about the health of their animals ((as do some quality free-rangers)).  These hens are foraging in grass, eating insects, catching some rays, enjoying the good life, and the nutrient quality of these eggs proves it.

According to Mother Earth News and the Ohio Pork and Poultry article linked above,  the cage-free eggs have up to 10x the Omega 3 content versus factory-farmed egg (which has to add Omega 3 to their grains), anywhere from 3-6x more vitamin D (in fact two of the cage-free eggs will net you at least 63% RDA of vitamin D), 66% more vitamin A, up to 7x more betacarotene, higher folic acid and vitamin B12 content,1/3 LESS cholesterol, 1/4 LESS saturated fat in comparison to factory farmed eggs.  One of nature’s little powerhouses, there are even studies that are starting to show up which link the good eggs with the job of helping to protect from cancer.  Your own little experiment can show you: fry up a factory vs cage-free egg in your own breakfast one morning.  Can you see how watery the factory egg white is?  Does that even look appetizing?  Maybe to some, but not to me.  

The old adage “you get what you pay for” is very true for pretty much any food we eat today, eggs included. Why pay the big farms for eggs produced by hens whose beaks are chopped off because they are in such close quarters the farmers are afraid they’ll peck each other to death?  Why pay for farmers to add all sorts of unknown antibiotics into the grain feed of their factory hens because they are sick and dying from such unstable pen conditions?  Why pay the big guys for the liquid starvation of their hens so they all molt together?  If you have a conscience and truly want to experience the nutrient density of an egg, visit your local organic farmer–you’ll get it cheaper buying directly from them vs buying in the store.  Most of these farmers will be more than happy to show you where their hens are feeding and housed.