Do you know how to read egg carton labels?
Eggs are a pretty important staple in a lot of recipes and are also a great source of nutrients, vitamins, and protein. I usually boil half a dozen or so at a time and have them sitting in the fridge for a quick snack or just to have them ready to put over a salad or something of that nature. Better yet, I can buy eggs in bulk, save money, and freeze them for later!
I have spent many a time standing in the grocery store in front of the great wall of eggs. China has their great wall, and my grocery store has a great wall of eggs. And they all claim to be the best or most “natural.” Phrases such as “cage-free,” “free range,” and “certified organic” pop out all over the place, and it can be quite overwhelming to discern which are best for me—especially when the youngest child sitting in the buggy is attempting an escape or pulling egg cartons down himself. Clean up on aisle 5; it wasn’t me…
Knowing how to read egg carton labels can become invaluable when you are planning your kid’s lunches for the week! If you would like some help planning them and new, fresh ideas, you can join MOMables here! You can also sign up for our FREE weekly newsletter that gives you extra ideas sent straight to your inbox!
Quick guide to egg labels:
Cage-Free: The chickens don’t live in cages. Instead,they generally live in barns, but they lack the ability to get outside, which doesn’t allow them to supplement their diets with natural foods (worms, seeds, insects, green plants). The nutritional value is usually the same as conventional grocery-store eggs.
Free-Range: The chickens don’t live in cages. Instead, they have some access to outside conditions, but the duration, quality, and amount aren’t specified by the USDA. They may or may not get access to natural dietary sources, and there are not restrictions to what chickens may be fed.
Certified Organic: The chickens don’t live in cages. Instead, they have some access to outside conditions, but the duration, quality, and amount aren’t specified by the USDA. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of pesticides and antibiotics, but forced molting through starvation is permitted.
Natural: This only means that no additional ingredients were added to the eggs such as coloring or flavorings.
Omega-3–Enriched: Additional omega-3s are added to the eggs in order to elevate the level. Omega-3–enriched eggs have been shown to have a shorter shelf life than non-enriched eggs.
So if you have seen anything like these phrases, you now know what they mean. But that still may leave you scratching your head asking, well, which kind should I buy? Ultimately, the decision is up to you. But pastured eggs would be your best choice.
Pastured eggs come from free chickens that live as chickens should. Their diet is made up of all kinds of seeds, green plants, worms, and insects. Their ability to range freely allows them to eat as much or as little as they would like, which is obviously much more natural! Generally grains or laying mash supplement their diets, and no antibiotics or hormones are added!
Nowadays, more people are looking for sources of pastured eggs, so it’s becoming easier to find those sources because there are more of them. I would suggest finding a local farmer, and purchase your eggs directly.
Here is another incentive for buying pastured eggs versus general store-bought. Pastured eggs have:
• ⅓ less cholesterol
• ¼ less saturated fat
• ⅔ more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
Don’t you feel better knowing you can feed your family completely natural and healthy eggs!?