Non-organic store-bought white eggs - These are the cheapest types of eggs you can buy. You know, the bright white ones that are all the same size? They generally come from chickens that are stuck in tight cages at large factories where they are fed GMOs, antibiotics, and hormones. The conditions they live in are usually unsanitary and crowded, where salmonella spreads easily. About 90% of the eggs in the US come from this type of scenario where the chickens never even see the light of day.
Vegetarian-fed eggs - This one just makes me giggle. And for this reason, chickens are NOT vegetarians. There is nothing beneficial or natural about a vegetarian-fed chicken. Chickens are omnivores. Their diet consists of plants, bugs, and rodents. It’s not healthy for a chicken to be fed a vegetarian diet only. When they are not fed the proper diet, the chickens become deficient in a protein-based amino acid called methionine. Unhealthy chickens mean unhealthy eggs, which means nutrient-devoid food that won't help YOU.
Cage-free eggs - These chickens may not be bound to their cages at all times, but they are more than likely still smashed into a closed-in structure with hundreds of other hens in the same unsanitary conditions that I listed above. People end up spending more for the cage-free label when the quality is the same as the cheapest eggs on the market.
Omega-3 enriched eggs - These hens are still being fed the same non-organic, GMO-laden feed. They are normally still receiving hormones and antibiotics as well. The only difference compared to the other types of eggs listed above, is that these hens are administered omega-3s in their food.
Organic eggs - These eggs are stamped with a guarantee that the hens are being fed non-GMO, organic feed. While this is definitely better than the other options I have talked about, it still doesn’t mean that these hens have any type of freedom to roam outside in the sunshine, eating grass and bugs. They are often still raised in confined, unsanitary conditions as well.
Pasture-raised eggs - After comparing all of the different egg labels, pasture-raised eggs are the best type of eggs that you can pick up at the store. These hens more than likely live in sanitary conditions where they get to roam outside under the sun, eating grass and bugs as chickens should. These brown eggs are going to be rich and high in omega-3s. Although these are the best store-bought option, by far, they still won’t be as fresh as the eggs you can get right from the farm.
Farm fresh eggs - They come in brilliant colors like blue, green, brown, white, tan, cream, purple, and maroon. Their yolks are golden yellow or rich orange. AND they taste like heaven. These eggs are guaranteed to be fresh and oh-so-full of flavor. You don’t have to worry about these nutrient-dense ovals of goodness having antibiotics or hormones within them. The hens have more than likely lived like queens, basking in the sun and running on plush grasses, eating the bugs of their dreams.
Don’t be afraid to ask your farmer what type of feed the hens eat as well. Chances are if they care to raise the chickens, they care to feed them well. Farm fresh eggs have proven to be exponentially higher in omega-3s, antioxidants, vitamin D, vitamin E, and beta carotene compared to eggs that come from hens raised on traditional feed in confinement.
How do you get your hands on fresh farm eggs, you ask?
1. If you have a local farmers market, try that first. Chances are there will be at least one source, if not multiple sources of eggs there. Shop around and ask questions to figure out which hens will produce better eggs.
2. Ever see those signs in front of farmhouses that say “fresh eggs for sale”? Go there.
3. You can order super high-quality eggs online from trusted farms that ship fresh eggs overnight. Try Polyface Farm, Seven Sons Farm, and Five Mary’s Farm.
4. Start a flock and raise your own hens to produce some amazing, flavorful eggs.