Understanding labels: the egg confusion

If you take a stroll down the refrigerator isle in any grocery store, you will probably notice that an egg is no longer just an egg. Purchasing this kitchen staple entails deciding if you like your eggs cage-free, free range, vegetarian-fed, fertile, enriched, certified humane, organic and more... As with milk and meat, the humble egg has been brought into the food labeling world's no-man's land.

As confusing (and annoying) as it is, it is important for us to understand what these labels mean. Every dollar we spend on food has consequences on our health, the environment, and of course, animal welfare.

Factory farmed eggs have been dubbed "the cruelest of all factory farm products:" hens are tortured and condemned to live their life in tiny, shared crates where they do not have the luxury of enough room to spread their wings. Spending much of their life in filthy, feces-ridden cages under severe physical and emotional stress, the conventional egg is an inferior product, lacking in virtually every nutrient that its (truly) organic counterparts are able to boast. What's worse, is that these hens are fed a dangerous amount of antibiotics, which of course are passed into the final product sold on our supermarket shelves (and eventually ingested by us...). Not appetizing.

To help, I put together the below resource with a list of commonly used labels on egg cartons in the hopes of helping you cut through the marketing clutter so that you may make an informed decision about your purchase:

I now purchase pasture-raised eggs from a farm I know and trust. My conscience is clear, the eggs honestly taste better, and the yolks are a brighter, richer color than the mass-produced ones I used to buy - truly egg-cellent ;)!