I want to clarify all the labels you may see on a carton of eggs, so that if you are going to eat eggs, you can make sure your eggs come from happy chickens!! 

Think abut it, how nutritious can an egg be that came from a hen that was raised on GMO corn meal, never saw sunlight, was under severe stress from harsh conditions and hormonal overgrowth, and fed antibiotics which weaken our natural immune system. Make a conscious decision about what you put in your body. 

   Some labeling described below (the better ones) are usualy best found in a health conscious food store such as Whole Foods Market (of which I am a huge fan of) or your local lovely health food store. Unfortunately in my neighborhood where I am currently staying in Queens NY, health food is few and far between. I travel to Whole Foods in Manhattan and Long Island for my yummy healthy groceries. 
RED= I dont like this label
ORANGE= Better than red
GREEN= Happy Eggs

   Most industrial farmed egg laying hens in America, are confined in Battery Cages. Floor space for battery cages are less than the size of a piece of paper. These cages do not provide hens with sufficient space to stand, walk, flap their wings, perch, or make a nest.  It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s eggs are produced in such industrial systems.

    Ooo, we like the sound of that don't we? This means that the birds that lay the    eggs are fed an all organic vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides. Also, they are housed, uncaged inside of barns and warehouses and are required to have outdoor access. Awesome!… But not really. The amount ad duration and quality of outdoor access, is not specified. In most circumstance, this merely means that a large barn or warehouse filled with hundreds of birds, has an opening big enough for one bird to fit through that leads to a 4 x 4 foot fenced in outdoor penn. Sometimes these pens are covered by an awning and the ground can be made of wood or cement. Not exactly very outdoorsy even tho it is technically outdoors. Uncaged birds under this labeling are allowed to be debeaked. This is to prevent "hostile" aka stressed birds, from harming one another.  Debeaking is a painful process for the bird and can often make it difficult for the bird to eat, causing birds to die of starvation where they are left to decompose amongst healthy birds. Also, under this labeling, forced molting through starvation is permitted. 

*any eggs labeled "Certified Organic" are audited by 3rd party. 

Well at least they are free of antibiotics, but we can do better!

   There is no definition of  "free range" for egg laying hens. The conditions for "free range" egg laying hens are usually similar to that of "certified organic", however there are no requirements as to what the birds are fed and the care of these birds is not audited.

   This is the same as "free range". There are no specific standards for eggs labeled "free roaming", and are also not audited

   This means that the birds are uncaged inside barns and warehouses. These birds do not have access to the outdoors, and beak cutting is permitted. There is no auditing for this label.

CERTIFIED HUMANE: -program of humane farm animal care-
   These birds are uncaged inside barns & warehouses but do not necessarily get access to the outdoors. The must be allowed to perform natural behaviors such as nesting, perching, and dust bathing. There are requirements for stocking density and number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, but beak cutting is allowed. Compliance for "certified humane" is audited by 3rd party. 

*ANIMAL WELFARE APPROVED: program of the Animal Welfare Institute

   This is the highest animal welfare standards of any 3rd party program. These birds must be cage free with the ability to perform natural behaviors such as nesting perching and dust bathing. Continuous outdoor perching access is required with requirements for stock density and number of perches and nesting boxes. Forced molting through starvation is prohibited, birds must be allowed to molt naturally. Beak cutting is also prohibited. 

this one sounds similar but is very different...
AMERICAN HUMANE CERTIFIED: program of American Humane Assoc.
   This label has a caged system in which the birds are contained in "furnished cages" the size of a piece of paper. Forced molting is prohibited, and beak cutting is permitted. 
   Aswell as a cage free system in which birds are uncaged within barns and warehouses with no access to the outdoors. Forced molting is prohibited, and beak cutting is permitted. 
The caged system is audited by 3rd party, however the cage free system is unaudited. 

***PASTURE RAISEDI really like to see this label
   This is a label that conscious farmers use to distinguish themselves from the label free range or free roaming. Pasture raised, meaning the animals are able to roam freely in natural outdoor green pastures, where they are able to eat nurrishing grasses and plants that their bodies were meant to digest. This yields a healthier more nutritious and tastier product, whether it be eggs or meat of any farm animal. These animals are able to move freely and carry out their natural behaviors. The animals are meant to lead a higher quality life so that they are happy and in turn, you will be happy and healthy too. I am not sure that this label is audited, however, like I said, it is generally used by farms with conscious farming practices. 

(if you want to read more about pasture raised, I really like this article, http://www.gracelinks.org/248/sustainable-livestock-husbandry)

   I love this book; "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer, http://www.eatinganimals.com. I really appreciate the daring detective research he does in order to reveal the truth about factory farming in america.

   When my good friend Maria lent me this book, I was an on the fence vegetarian. My reasons for being a vegetarian were just becoming clear in my mind. This book confirmed all of my reasoning and tipped me over the edge to the full on vegetarian side, now mostly vegan. My food journey, throughout research and knowledge, gets me closer every day to my goal of healthy conscious living. 

2/6/2013 06:53:25 am

Thanks for the much needed info!!!


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