Organic eggs are a healthier bet than regular, because chickens fed a pesticide and hormone-free diet will produce eggs that don't contain pesticide and hormone residues. And if an egg is not only organic but comes from a "pastured" chicken, even better, because chickens allowed to roam freely and eat a diverse diet are going to produce eggs packed with more nutrients for us.
But not all eggs bearing the organic label are pastured (far from it) and the label "organic" can mean a wide variety of things. A new report from organics watchdog the Cornucopia Institute reveals that many organic eggs are produced at factory farms where chickens are crammed into cages and fed an unnatural diet of commercial feed—but because the feed is grown without pesticides the resulting eggs qualify as USDA Organic.
Even if you don't care about the chickens' quality of life, you should pay attention to this report because the conditions under which chickens are raised affects the health properties of the eggs they lay:
"Research at Pennsylvania State University reveals discernible nutritional benefits to the consumer from raising laying hens on pasture. When compared with caged hens fed only a commercial diet, pastured hens produce eggs with twice as much vitamin E and 2.5-fold more healthy omega-3 fatty acids."
To see the rankings of various brands of organic eggs, including small local ones and the cartons sold by the big grocery chains, check out the Cornucopia Institute's Organic Egg Scorecard.
I try to buy my eggs from a local organic farm, though for convenience sake I often pick up the Whole Foods organic brand when I'm shopping there. I've noticed that the eggs from the local farm have yolks that are much brighter, more orange, than the ones from the supermarket, which is the result of the pastured chickens being fed a more nutrient-rich diet, meaning more nutrients for me and my family.
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