The second Friday in October is recognized as World Egg Day. This day was first established by the International Egg Commission at their 1996 conference in Vienna. World Egg day is devoted to honoring the many benefits of the egg in areas such as nutrition and sustainability.
As The Appropriate Omnivore, eggs have another special meaning to me. It’s one of the earliest foods I remember enjoying. Even before steak. Back in 2011, I learned the benefits of cholesterol and saturated fat. I then realized how amazing of a food eggs are as the yolk has the highest amount of cholesterol in any food. Eggs are also a great source of vitamins A, B, D, E, and K plus provide iron, phosphorus, potassium and calcium, choline. So I can now savor my eggs at breakfast time and not fear eating the yolks.
But as with all foods, it’s important to properly source your eggs and know the true meaning of the labels. There are many brands of organic eggs, but the organic label doesn’t say anything about whether or not the chickens where raised in confined spaces. It simply means the hens were given an organic feed. Even free range isn’t all it’s cracked up to. The only requirement for a free range label is the chickens have access to the outdoors, but they may never be let outside.
The minimum for finding nutrient dense eggs is a label of pasture raised. This means the chickens are given at least 108 square feet of pasture. However many of the eggs listed below go beyond this standard.
A great option for pasture eggs is your local farmers market. You’re buying locally and might even be able to visit the farms yourself to find out if the hens are truly pastured. For those who don’t have that option, here in alphabetical order are 10 pasture raised eggs you can find in supermarkets:
Alexandre Family Farms is a farm in Humboldt, CA known for its A2 dairy from fourth generation dairy farmers. They now also have a line of pastured eggs raised on their year round green grasses. Additionally, Alexandre is committed to regenerative agriculture.
Blue Sky Family Farms
The company Egg Innovations is about improving animal welfare and returning to family farms. Through their subsidiary Blue Sky Family Farms, they’re able to provide pastured eggs. Their devotion to being environmental also includes putting their eggs in cartons which are made from 100% recycled post-consumer newsprint. Plus the cartons are 100% recyclable and biodegradable.
Burroughs Family Farm
The Burroughs Family Farm is a joint effort Burroughs siblings owning and operating individual farms while connecting with the other farms by methods organic and sustainable agriculture and other shared resources to help each farm out. They also enroll their hens in a management intensive grazing system of intense grazing followed by three weeks of rest.
Farmers Hen House
Originating from an Amish farmer in 1997, Farmers Hen House was born with a few farms in Kalona, IA. A few years later, Kalona local Mark Miller helped expand the farm further. The majority of it is still local farms along with some in Bloomfield, IA and northern Missouri. Many of their farms are powered by solar energy, including their processing plant.
Handsome Brook Farm
Handsome Brook Farm is a collection of small farms who share in their values of providing acres after acres of rotated pasture. Their family farms range across six states from the east coast to the midwest.
Happy Egg Co.
The story of Happy Egg Co. begins in 1949 as Margaret and Clifford Kent were given a wedding present of 50 chickens from Margaret’s family. In 10 years, they grew their herd into 2,000 birds. It was always important for the Kent’s to go against the grain of the conventional egg industry and raise their chickens in humane ways, such as providing them with clean air, good lighting, and space. Their son Michael later took over of the business as continues to expand the business and find new ways to raise chickens in the best conditions.
Mary’s Organic Pasture Raised Eggs
Since 1954, the Pitman family has been raising chickens. Many people are familiar with the brand Mary’s Free Range Chickens. They also have a label Mary’s Free Range Pasture Raised Chickens, which abide by their highest standards. With their pasture raised category, shoppers can find eggs in addition to chicken meat.
Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs
The history of Pete and Gerry’s dates back to the late 1800’s and the Ward Family Farm in Monroe, NH. Robert Ward farmed dairy cattle and hens. When World War II ended, Robert’s son Les returned from the Navy and expanded the farm with his brother-in-law Rodney Stanton. When factory farmed eggs were driving small farms out of business in the 1980s, the two refused to go in that direction. The farm is now run by Les’ daughter Carol, her husband Gerry Laflamme, and Rodney’s son Peter Stanton. The Pete and Gerry’s brand was named after them and created to sell pasture raised organic eggs. Their eggs are free of antibiotics, synthetic pesticides, GMOs, or animal by products. In 2003, Pete and Gerry’s became the first Certified Humane eggs.
Vital Farms starts in 2007 with a 27 acre farm in Austin, TX. When Whole Foods discovered their eggs at a farmers market, they began selling them throughout their supermarkets in the midwest. Vital Farms began working with small farmers all over the country using the Vital Farms name on their products. They’re now partnered with over 100 family farms and are sold nationwide.
Wilcox Family Farms
Wilcox Family Farms is over 100 years old and is currently run by the fourth generation of the Wilcox family. Their organic and sustainable practices date back to when the land was purchased by the family in 1909. Being along the Nisqually River in central Washington State, the family knew they had a responsibility to not use any chemicals or pesticide which could run off into the river. They also use locally grown feed for the chickens when possible.
For additional information on finding pastured raised eggs, I recommend these sites: