Do you understand all these egg labels?
Do you ever scratch your head and wonder WT@$%^ – aka you’ve got to be kidding? Okay, maybe that wasn’t appropriate, but I put it out there anyway.
Usually one has this reaction when something is common sense to you, and the rest of the world seems to not get it. They may not get it because they don’t know, or they choose to ignore the truth or reality.
When it has to do with your food – there is a third possibility for your confusion – like big agriculture, marketing, and government muddling terminology and truth. The egg and poultry industry seems to have more labels and regulations than many other industries.
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve investigated every egg label I could find. I’ve read through too much USDA, marketing, and agricultural garbage when it has to do with eggs. And the USDA refers to your eggs as “shelled eggs” meaning you are buying your eggs as an egg in a shell. Eggs not in the original shell have different rules and labeling.
I found 23 different labels besides nutrient information, count, the farm name and location that could be on your egg carton. I thought holy cow – you’ve got to be kidding. How in the world can anyone know what egg to buy from your grocery store?
And I grow laying hens at my homestead every single day. I know how to get the freshest eggs, with the least amount of intervention and let the chickens be chickens in nature. Maybe now you understand why I thought – you’ve got to be kidding – when I began researching egg labels.
Which came first the chicken or the egg?
Good question, the answer depends on your perspective. But what I do know is how a healthy chicken is raised and what they eat in the wild.
First, chickens are considered poultry or domesticated fowl. They are omnivores, meaning they eat seeds, insects, grasses, vegetables and more.
This time of the year I can see my chickens scratching for bugs, biting off the top of flowers, catching worms, eating small frogs and garden snakes.
Our chickens run about in the yard, pasture and barn at will. During the day I rarely see the chickens just sitting around or hiding in a building. Sometimes the chickens appear to be snuggling and pushing themselves into the dirt, which is called dusting. This keeps the chickens clean and healthy. If a chicken is kept in a pen, on concrete, in a cage or building how can they naturally take care of themselves? How can they dust themselves, keep clean and healthy? They can’t – can they.
In the non-snow months, we give very little grain to our chickens. And the grain they do receive is organic. They get their fill of bugs, garden leftovers, and other stuff like nuts and fruit from the trees. In the winter the chickens still get household scraps and organic chicken feed. They dust themselves in the barn ground and scratch for food in the barn at will. The chickens go outside when it’s not too cold and the snow has melted.
And their eggs show it. In the summer months the egg yolks are much darker, a yellow-orange, not some pale yellowish yolk. In the winter the yolk is lighter colored but still much deeper in color than a store-bought grain fed egg. The darker yolk is an indication of a more well-rounded fed chicken, and a more nutritious egg
As far as egg color goes, our chickens lay white, dark brown, light brown and blueish eggs. The egg color depends on the breed of the chicken, nothing more.
In my book chickens weren’t meant to be locked in a building all day, live in a cage, or live on a concrete floor. They don’t need antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, and they must be treated in a humane way. Let chickens be chickens.
Chickens aren’t meant to eat only vegetarian feed – they are omnivores. How can a chicken be fed vegetarian feed without being locked up in a building and grown on a concrete floor? If they are outside on the ground they would also get bugs.
If you don’t want GMOs or pesticides in your stomach why would you feed eat something that has been raised on GMOs and chemicals?
Yes, I understand why you are confused about the labels on your eggs. They are ridiculous, confusing and not very truthful in my book.
So how should you buy eggs?
Personally, I’d buy eggs locally where they feed organic feed and let the chickens run in the pastures. A place where you can talk to the grower. If that isn’t an option decide what is important for you and your eggs. Is it how the chicken is being treated, fed, or lives? If you don’t want GMOs or the ground sprayed where your chickens run – buy organic.
Yes, I tend to go with certified organic when I can’t talk to the grower because it gives me more information and peace of mind.
Below is a list of labels that could be on your eggs. Click on any label to gain more information about that specific terminology.
- 100 percent natural or natural
- American Humane certificate – not egg specific
- Antibiotic-free or no antibiotics
- Cage Free or free roaming
- Certified Humane Raised and Handled – not egg specific
- Egg Color
- Enriched colony
- Fertile egg
- Free Range
- Gluten Free
- Good Source of Protein
- Good Source of Vitamin D
- No Added Hormones or Hormone free
- Non-GMO eggs
- Nutrient- Enhanced Eggs
- Omega 3
- USDA Organic not specific to eggs
- Vegetarian Fed or vegetarian eggs
- Vitamin Enhanced
- Zero Carbohydrates