I LOVE to eat eggs. They’re fast, delicious, versatile and a powerhouse of nutrition. Up until a few years ago I would spend the extra buck or two at the grocery store to buy organic eggs. That was until I experienced farm fresh eggs.

My omelettes were transformed into something way tastier, things I baked, using the same old recipes, tasted better and, even though I was eating more eggs, my cholesterol numbers were perfect.

Once you experience farm fresh eggs, it’s hard to go back.

organic-vs-farm-fresh

What ARE the differences between store bought organic and farm fresh eggs?

Not only is the color of the yolk different, but farm fresh eggs are actually better for you than store bought eggs (even the organic ones). Farm fresh eggs, that come from hens with free roaming access to worms, insects, grass, alfalfa, etc., are known to have less cholesterol, less fat, more omega 3, more vitamin E and D and more beta carotene (you can actually see it in those orange yolks!)

Many years ago when I lived in Spain and I was shocked that eggs were not refrigerated. It turns out that one main reason we refrigerate eggs in the US is because store eggs are OLD (often at least several weeks old). The US also uses a process to wash off the protective layer of the egg, which would otherwise prevent contamination. When you purchase eggs directly from a farmer, you can ask them how they’ve been treated as well as the farm conditions where the eggs came from (most local, family-run farms are cleaner and more sanitary than bigger factory farms where many “organic” eggs come from). You may also be able to visit the farm and see for yourself.

Avoiding the egg aisle at the grocery store also saves me a lot of time too. Who has time to decipher all of those labels? I always wondered why I couldn’t buy cage free AND organic eggs at the store (it felt like a hard choice every time I went!)

What do those labels mean anyway?

“vegetarian fed” eggs Chickens are NOT meant to have a vegetarian diet, so this is a big red flag for me. Chickens should eat bugs, worms, and grass.

“organic” eggs While it’s a good thing that that the organic standard prevents them from being fed antibiotics or pesticides, most commercial organic chickens are kept in cramped, unsanitary, unnatural conditions with little to no access to outdoors or natural sources of food.

“cage free” eggs According to the USDA, “cage free” means “the flock was able to freely roam a building, room, or enclosed area with unlimited access to food and fresh water during their production cycle.” So technically no cages, but still indoors or outdoors on concrete. These hens are often given antibiotics to prevent disease and their “food” is not regulated.

“natural” eggs This is another marketing term that actually means nothing. The USDA says “the natural label does not include any standards regarding farm practices and only applies to processing of meat and egg products.”

So there you have it. more expensive eggs but not much more bang for your buck.

Reasons to buy from a local farmer:

Buying eggs (and other foods) from a farmer is the only way to truly know where your food comes from. Small family farming is an art form that I strongly support and I’ve found that having a relationship with the people who grow my family’s food is one of the best ways to support my family’s health. Being able to ask questions and visit the farm allows for a trust that no label can provide. And the food is so incredibly yummy.

Finding high-quality organic eggs locally is getting easier and more common. If you don’t know of a farm co-op nearby it may be time to start one. Different co-ops work differently. For the one I belong to, we place our orders with the farmer directly and they deliver to one location every other week.

Resources for connecting to a local farmer or setting up a co-op with your neighbors:

http://www.nofa.org/

http://www.eatwild.com/products/index.html

http://www.localharvest.org/