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Food and Nutrition

Grocery Spotlight: Pasture-Raised Eggs

Enara Staff
/ March 1, 2019
pasture eggs

We loved spotting these pasture-raised eggs at Costco recently. Wondering what the words pasture-raised really means? With so many labels popping up on egg cartons these days, it can be confusing. We did a little research into what some of the most common terms mean, and how they could impact your health, animal welfare, and the environment.

Natural: means product must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients, but sets no standards about farm practices. Applies only to meat after slaughter, not how the animal was raised.

Vegetarian Feed: means feed doesn’t have animal byproducts (such as ground up chicken) in it. In the wild, chickens are not necessarily vegetarian though (may eat worms and bugs).

Cage-Free: term regulated by the USDA. Means hens can move freely within the hen house and have unlimited access to food and fresh water. But usually means no outdoor access.

Free-Range: also regulated by the USDA and means hens have some access to the outdoors, although no regulation on what that outdoor access really means or how much space is given. If certified humane, means at least 2 square feet of outdoor space per bird.

Non-GMO: means hens are fed a diet free of GMOs (genetically-modified organisms), but doesn’t mean the feed is organic.

Organic: term regulated by the USDA. Means eggs were produced in a way that didn’t harm the environment. Doesn’t necessarily mean hens were given access to the outdoors.

Pasture-raised: not a term regulated by the USDA, but sets high standards for quality of life for hens. Certified human mandates 108 square feet per bird, and because they are free-roaming, it’s better for the land too.

Certified Humane/Animal Welfare Approved: sets certain standards for how farm animals are treated, including continuous access to the outdoors and no hormones or antibiotics used.

Bottom line: if you are concerned about animal-welfare or environmental practices, look for pasture-raised or certified humane/animal welfare approved eggs. Although usually pricier, check out Costco for a great deal on these high-quality eggs!

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