Are you getting the best eggs from truly pasture-raised chickens?

Many stores, including large chain organic grocery stores like Whole Foods, sell eggs that are marked as cage free and organic, which most consumers think are the ideal eggs to purchase. However for the truly highest quality chicken eggs, you want to look for 'pasture raised, free range organic' eggs. This label means that the chickens are free to roam around fields and have been raised in an open pasture, without pesticides, allowing them to eat their normal diet of bugs and scratch, as opposed to organic feed. Often, the 'cage free organic' chickens are subjected to the same high stress conditions as those in most large scale commercial chicken farms, kept 'cage free'  but in crowded barns with limited to no exercise and given 'organic' and processed feed for their diet. These birds may also be given artificial light to fool them into laying eggs during colder months.

In the bay area, there are only a handful of ranches that sell TRULY pasture-raised eggs. Our favorite locations include:

  • Marin Sun Farms --  Available at Rainbow Grocery and the Ferry Building Farmer’s Market
  • Soul Food Farms --  Available at most farmer’s markets around SF and several retailers including BiRite and Avedano’s
  • Clark Summit --  Available at Rainbow Grocery and BiRite in SF
Am I eating the highest quality eggs?
A lot of people think 'organic' eggs are all the same and represent the highest quality, however this is not the case. To keep it simple, looking at the egg yolk can often be a great quality rating. In general, the more nutritious eggs will have brighter, more orange egg yolks.
Below is a picture of several cracked eggs in a bowl.  The bright delicious orange ones are from truly pasture-raised, HAPPY chickens from The Phan Farm and were purchased at the Alemany Farmers Market. The yellow ones are 'organic, cage free' eggs from Whole Foods. Sadly, the majority of Americans are used to seeing the more yellow yolks which come from the mass produced chicken eggs around the country.
What makes my eggs orange?
The orange coloring of an egg yolk is caused by higher doses of vitamins, especially beta carotene, which is a vitamin-powerhouse that helps your immune system, eyes and cells to function properly.
Pasture Raised Eggs Are Lower in Cholesterol and Higher in Vitamins!
In 2007 Mother Earth News released a study that stated that pasture-raised chicken eggs have:
  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • 2/3 more vitamin A
  • 2 times more omga 3 fatty acids
  • 3 times more Vitamin E
  • 7 times more beta carotene
So keep an eye out for pasture raised, free range, organic chickens and those orange yolks!