Pastured Eggs vs. Free Range Eggs: How to Buy Organic Eggs

by Ann Marie Michaels on February 20, 2009

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Pastured eggs vs. free range eggs? What’s the difference? In this post, I’ll tell you how to buy organic eggs.

organic eggs

If you read my blog regularly, you know I love eggs. We typically go through about 3-4 dozen eggs per week. Our little family consisting of 2 adults and one toddler.

Eggs are one of the most economical ways to increase the nutrients in your family’s diet. Eggs are full of vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotene, cholesterol (which is good for you), and saturated fat (also good for you).

Why Pastured Eggs?
I don’t just buy any eggs. I only buy pastured eggs from local farmers who keep their chickens outdoors and let them roam around in the sun, eating bugs. I also only buy eggs from farmers who do not feed their chickens soy.

For years, I bought organic free range eggs. From what I had read, organic free range eggs were the best.

I knew supermarket eggs were bad. The chickens are crowded in cages. They don’t even have room to move or turn around. They’re pumped with antibiotics and fed genetically modified feed. They’re sick and very unhealthy — which is why it’s so common to find salmonella with factory farm chickens and eggs.

So I always bought “organic” “free range” eggs. It was about a year and a half ago that I discovered truly pastured eggs. The definition of “free range” or “cage free” is that they give the chickens “access to the outdoors”. What does that mean? Uh, nothing. Do they really go outside? No, usually not. They’re crowded into large, windowless sheds and they rarely ever go outside.

They may be “organic” and “cage free” but these are not truly healthy birds. Since they’re not given antibiotics, they are very susceptible to disease. The people who work at these “big organic” chicken farms have to wear cleanroom suits when they go in to visit the birds.

This is what a cleanroom suit looks like:

cleanroom suit

I ask you, folks, what’s wrong with this picture? Isn’t it a bit weird that farmers have to dress up like they’re working at a nuclear power plant?

The Homegrown Evolution blog posted these fabulous photos a while back in a brilliant post called An Open Letter to Trader Joe’s. They doctored a photo of an egg carton from Trader Joe’s to show how the chickens are really raised.

Here’s the egg carton before:

Trader Joe's egg carton

Don’t those chickens look happy? Pecking for worms in the sunshine, a red barn in the distance. Just like we remember from childhood storybooks.

Here’s the egg carton after:

There’s the guy in his cleanroom suit, the windowless shed, miles of green pasture all around without a chicken in sight! The true picture of “big organic” chicken farms. (If you want to read more about this, pick up a copy of Michael Pollan’s excellent book, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”. You can read the chapter about “big organic” chicken farms, “Big Organic: Supermarket Pastoral” online.)

Here’s the thing: chickens need to be outdoors to get vitamin D from the sun. Chickens are also not vegetarians. You always see egg crates boasting a “vegetarian diet”. Guess what, folks? Chickens are supposed to eat bugs and worms. That’s where they are supposed to get their protein!

It was around that time that I discovered this article, Meet Real Free Range Eggs on the Mother Earth News website. They did a study in which they compared the nutrients in real pastured eggs to supermarket eggs.

Just look at these numbers! Compared to supermarket eggs (from factory farms), real pastured eggs have:

5 times more vitamin D
2/3 more vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene

Click here to download the PDF with the results.

The Mother Earth News wasn’t the only one doing research on this. Check out all these other studies they cite:

In 1974, the British Journal of Nutrition found that pastured eggs had 50 percent more folic acid and 70 percent more vitamin B12 than eggs from factory farm hens.

In 1988, Artemis Simopoulos, co-author of The Omega Diet, found pastured eggs in Greece contained 13 times more omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids than U.S. commercial eggs.

A 1998 study in Animal Feed Science and Technology found that pastured eggs had higher omega-3s and vitamin E than eggs from caged hens.

A 1999 study by Barb Gorski at Pennsylvania State University found that eggs from pastured birds had 10 percent less fat, 34 percent less cholesterol, 40 percent more vitamin A, and four times the omega-3s compared to the standard USDA data. Her study also tested pastured chicken meat, and found it to have 21 percent less fat, 30 percent less saturated fat and 50 percent more vitamin A than the USDA standard.

In 2003, Heather Karsten at Pennsylvania State University compared eggs from two groups of Hy-Line variety hens, with one kept in standard crowded factory farm conditions and the other on mixed grass and legume pasture. The eggs had similar levels of fat and cholesterol, but the pastured eggs had three times more omega-3s, 220 percent more vitamin E and 62 percent more vitamin A than eggs from caged hens.

The 2005 study Mother Earth News conducted of four heritage-breed pastured flocks in Kansas found that pastured eggs had roughly half the cholesterol, 50 percent more vitamin E, and three times more beta carotene.

But What About the Cost?
It’s true that pastured eggs cost more. But isn’t it obvious that it is worth it? You’d have to eat 5 supermarket eggs to get the same amount of vitamin D from one pastured egg. You may be able to buy a dozen eggs for a buck or two at the grocery store, but you get what you pay for. The national average for pastured eggs is about $4-5 per dozen. However, they are worth that in terms of nutrient density.

I did a little figuring to see how economical pastured eggs really are.

Let’s say you pay $5 for a dozen pastured eggs. That means each egg costs about 42 cents. A “large” egg is about 2 ounces, so you’re paying 20 cents per ounce.

Twenty cents, people. How does that compare to other foods of a similar nutrient density? (The prices are based on what we pay here in California.)

Raw grass fed organic butter ($8 per pound): 50 cents per ounce
Raw grass fed organic cream ($7 per pint): 44 cents per ounce
Pasteurized grass fed butter – ($5 per pound): 31 cents per ounce
Grass fed organic ground beef ($4 per pound): 25 cents per ounce
Grass fed organic beef liver ($3 per pound): 19 cents per ounce
Raw grass fed organic milk ($10.50 per gallon): 8 cents per ounce

Where Do You Find Real Pastured Eggs?
When I made the switch from free range eggs to real pastured eggs, I had no idea where to get them. I had no idea that they were right under my nose at the local farmer’s market. There are three different farmers at my local farmer’s market in Santa Monica who sell pastured eggs. (I’m pretty sure one of them does feed his birds soy, so I only buy from the other two, Rocky Canyon and Healthy Family Farms.)

If there is a local farmer’s market in your area, look for eggs. Talk to the farmer and ask if the birds are kept outdoors and ask what they are fed. (It’s best not to feed soy — its a whole ‘nother blog post.)

You can also check out the Eat Wild or Local Harvest websites to look for pastured eggs in your area.

Still can’t find ’em? Contact someone from your local Weston A. Price chapter (this is how I found my local pastured eggs — I met my WAPF chapter leader at the farmer’s market and she introduced me to the farmers).

Photo credit: auxesis on Flickr

{ 110 comments… read them below or add one }

Yvonne February 20, 2009 at 7:23 AM

Hey AM – Thanks for the post. I am all for pastured eggs but not sure where I can find them in HI – I will try your links and the farmers market. I am wondering though where you get 25 oz eggs – should it be 2.5 oz eggs and 20 cents per oz?

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FoodRenegade February 20, 2009 at 7:44 AM

A very informative post. Whenever I tell this to people picking up “free range,” “cage free” or “organic” eggs from the supermarket, they are always shocked and dismayed. But then when I tell them how easy it is to come by real eggs, they perk up a bit.

Most people think the food labels actually *mean* something when the truth is they’re almost always a way to mask something, hide something, or sell identical products at premium prices. You simply can’t trust food labels. Ever.

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Timothy February 22, 2011 at 11:51 AM

@FoodRenegade

I agree that many eggs from the supermarket aren’t what they suggest with the label. However, I disagree with your last blanket statement about food labels. When you learn what certain seals and statements mean on food labels, you can trust that the legal requirements of those statements are being met, in the vast majority of cases. Very Strong Disclaimer: Those standards and legal requirements may not be what you would think as shopper. Organic has very strong practice requirements, but animals don’t always actually go outside in the larger factory farms, for instance, due to abuse of loopholes. If you do a small amount of internet research nowadays you can usually find out what eggs come from what parent company and avoid those eggs. Many of the smaller brands of local eggs will sound similar to the larger factory farm eggs, though. Hillandale Farm vs Clark Summit Farm. Factory vs Pastured.

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Sophianne December 10, 2011 at 8:50 AM

The “organic” frozen vegetables fro China (read the very small print) from wholefoods own brand have all the right labels. They are controlled only by an independent organization… In China. Yet the bear labels that can only be earned while being controlled.. In the US. One example where labels mean nothing.

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Cathy McNeil February 20, 2009 at 8:27 AM

Great post about pastured eggs. Every time I see grocery store eggs, including the “organic” and “free range” variety I am amazed at how pale the yolk is and how they flatten out in the pan, compared to the bright orange yolks and firm, stand up quality of pastured eggs.

The ones that really crack me up are the eggs labeled as “vegetarian”! Poor hens! They don’t go outside and get to eat bugs. The only bugs they know are the internal variety.

Laying hens can make great pets and can be so comical to watch. Thankfully some municipalities are beginning to change their ordinances to allow a few laying hens in the yard. Just having a small flock of laying hens could make a huge difference in the health of a family.

Unfortunately, my favorite, pet laying hen, “Jo Jo Yardbird” was picked off by an owl, just before going into the coop for the evening. It broke my heart! I’ve never formed that close of a bond with any other laying hens since then.

There’s nothing like a breakfast of fresh eggs, just gathered.

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cheeseslave February 20, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Yvonne you’re absolutely right. Doh! Every time I try to do math I always screw up. Clearly not my strong suit! LOL!

Also just shows you how rigorous you have to be about double-checking your sources. When I googled it, it said 25 ounces but that was 25 ounces per dozen. So an egg is 2-2.5 ounces. So yes, 20 cents per ounce. Which is still very cheap compared to most animal protein.

Going to fix it now. Thank you for letting me know.

Oh, and I would email one of the WAPF chapter leaders in Hawaii. They’ll know where to find eggs where you are.

http://www.westonaprice.org/localchapters/index.html#hi

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Anna February 20, 2009 at 10:51 AM

Super post! One of your best, actually. Our family of three goes through about 3-4 dozen eggs a week, so eggs are very important to us.

I am constantly amazed at how little thought people give to the food they buy in supermarkets. They seem to want to believe that if it’s sold in the “health food” store, or labeled organic, or Premium, or whatever, it’s the best option. The “pastoral liturature” that Michael Pollan describes in The Omnivore’s Dilemma describes it perfectly. Packaging claims and images are very convincing to most people (sheeple?), so it’s no wonder the producers emblazen their packages with phrases like cage-free, free-range, all natural, all-vegetarian feed, etc. So few know anything about animals anymore, so they don’t know that chickens aren’t vegetarians. Birds are very sensitive to light cycles, so it makes perfect sense that Vit D is lacking in indoor chickens (there is Vit D added to their feed to ensure egg production, but not to ensure ample Vit D in the actual eggs).

And the cute old-fashioned red barns that frequent many packages are becoming a thing of the past (a drive through the heartland will reveal many barns are destined to either be torn down for salvaged barnsiding for “homespun decor” or they’re falling down and rotting. I’m not suggesting that modern barn buildings are bad, but just that when we see an image of a red barn, it induces a notion that the product within is produced in an old-fashioned, humane way. The power of suggestion is indeed powerful in consumers’ minds.

The egg ranches that supply many of the San Diego stores are huge long egg factories, nothing like the green pastures dotted with pecking hens. I avoid most of them, though they are local. Some even sell their eggs at the Farmer’s Markets, so it’s worth asking about the size of the flock, the conditions of the housing, the feed components.

When I first started sourcing our eggs from a local producer, I bought them at a farmer’s market. I had to be sure to get here very early, she always sold out and left before the market was over. Her flock included aracunas, so many of the egg shells were a beautiful greenish color – the inspiration for my kitchen and family room. Then she stopped selling at the FM, instead concentrating on supplying upscale restaurants. Then I bought from another FM seller, only to learn that she had 70,000 layers. Great for her, she could get retail prices for factory-farmed wholesale eggs. No wonder they eggs tasted the same as boring supermarket eggs – they were the same.

So I sought out another source, asking anyone and every where before I hit paydirt. I learned about a couple who raised their own food and sold off the excess, via word-of-mouth during a Mother’s Day gift massage, of all places. Two years after, I lost that source when the couple spit up and no longer kept animals. But it was great while it lasted.

But I need my daily 2 or 3 egg breakfast, so it was back to boring sub-par TJ eggs for a while. I kept asking around, doing internet searches for families that keep some layers, etc. I found a few fairly far out in the county, at least a 45 minute drive one-way (if traffic was light), sellers with flocks too small to sell at FM, but also that was a bit to far for me to drive just for eggs.

Then bingo, I learned a neighbor works has coworker who keeps a flock of about 80 chickens at her large suburban/rural property. Now most Wednesdays my neighbor brings me an average of 7 dozen (I am the middle person for a couple of other people who want the eggs, too). I pay $3/doz and I consider it a very fair price, perhaps even a bargain (my neighbor would take no additional compensation for her “delivery” service, so I gave her some bison meat as a token of gratitude). Granted, now and then, the laying hens are molting and not producing as much, etc., so I can’t get my usual amount of eggs. One time some “kind-hearted” people dropped off a hen in the drive, only to later reveal that this hen is a “breaker” – she breaks the shells to eat the eggs (yes, hens can be cannibals!), so there were limited eggs available until the “breaker” was “dealt” with. But that’s part and parcel for eating locally and seasonally.

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jeanmarie September 20, 2011 at 10:21 PM

$3 a dozen is very cheap for good eggs! We charge $5. Very good of you to trade some bison meat for additional compensation for the farmer. We buy organic feed, and soy-free at that (though I have not found any soy-free chick fee available locally), and it’s twice as much as regular. Plus all the bugs they can scratch and grass and scraps they can eat.

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Anna September 30, 2011 at 4:31 AM

Anna, We live in SD! Where are you getting your eggs these days? I’m desperate for something other than the Costco free-range eggs which are looking the same as the supermarket ones…
Thanks in advance,
Anna

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Megan February 20, 2009 at 10:55 AM

I am a bit jealous of you living in southern california. my sources of pastured eggs are very low in production right now because of the cold. I am limited to 2 dozen/week if I get there before they’re gone.

Do you think organic/free range would be your second choice still? Or would you just not eat more than 2 dozen/week?

This is assuming raising my own chickens is out of the question……at the moment.

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D. May 5, 2011 at 7:05 AM

This is good information to know, especially if you’re a bit of a rebel!

http://www.grist.org/sustainable-farming/2011-04-28-give-a-cluck-ask-umbra-on-secret-backyard-chickens

Our city just passed an ordinance making it illegal, but I may do what the article suggests and see what happens. Start with maybe a half dozen or so and see where it lands me…

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Erica February 20, 2009 at 11:19 AM

Does anyone have any opinions on fertile vs non-fertile pastured eggs?

Thank you so much for breaking down the costs per ounce. It made me think a bit about all my complaining about costs for switching to this way of eating. Eating healthy has been particularly important to me… almost to the point where I think I am becoming a little too WAPF-fanatical! I don’t want to pay ridiculous prices for good food, but I’d rather pay a higher price on food than a price for any medication. Next time I buy pastured eggs from my local farmers market, I’ll thank the eggs, the chicken, the farmer, etc.

Go real food!!

Thanks! =) ~Erica

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Sheryl August 23, 2011 at 8:51 PM

I have found sniplets of info saying fertile are better ; hers the problem without cracking it I cannot tell for sure . and folks must have a 10 to 1 [8-12 ] hen to rooster ratio , he eats crows services the girls . [ a 10 % loss ] . but [ my thoughts] its like starting to sprout a seed [ being fertile]

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Kristin February 20, 2009 at 2:02 PM

This is a great post! I appreciate your research on the nutritional differences. My father is skeptical! Perhaps this will help.

One note: the richer color comes from the grass and other green stuff the chickens eat. As with butter and milk, the yellower (really oranger) the yolks, the more Vitamin A. And yes, chickens love to graze! You should see my parsley right now.

Cathy McNeil is so right on the “vegetarian” thing. Have you ever seen a chicken eat a baby snake? How ’bout any bit of animal protein they can get their beaks on! Yikes! And boy, will they chase each other around to get even the smallest morsel. They don’t do that with grain!

To answer Erica: There should be no appreciable difference between fertile and non-fertile eggs. I believe this urban legend came from the fact that home flocks tend to keep roosters around. Factory farms do not. So if you could find “fertile” eggs, they were more likely from small flocks. Not necessarily “pastured” as most people keep their chickens penned. Otherwise, they’re all over the place and scratch out any garden that isn’t fenced. Ask me how I know.

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Erica February 20, 2009 at 2:43 PM

Thanks Kristin. I believe both were pastured, but the fertiles ones were more expensive. I guess I don’t really need to bother, as long as they are pastured.

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Judy February 21, 2009 at 5:45 AM

Interesting factoid. We have 9 hens here – I take my eggs to work frequently to sell to co-workers. They’re very popular. One lady has said that her husband hasn’t been able to eat eggs in forever – those bought at the store make him sick for whatever reason. She bought our eggs and she’s one of my steady customers now. He has no problems with them and they love them.

I would consider our girls semi-pastured – they’re out of the coop as much as the weather allows in Michigan. Typically we have at least 3 inches of snow or more on the ground here (we’re in for another 3-6 inches later this a.m.) and they won’t go out in the snow. They do have a huge sun porch and the freedom to go there and soak up some rays whenever they want. They have the Taj Mahal of coops – it’s insulated, ventilated, heated when the temperature gets too low (I think dh has it set to warm up below freezing) because we don’t want frozen beaks and tootsies and very cozy. When they can’t be out (and there are times during the winter months that the snow actually melts – they’re out then), they’re fed organic chicken feed.

I think I have very happy, healthy chickens. It will be nice when this snow is gone once and for all so they can be out all the time. I love nothing better then to look out and see chickens all over the yard. We have lots of wooded areas that they really seem to enjoy although they take a hankering now and then and head for my gardens. If we catch them, we shoo them out. If we don’t catch them, we clean up after them. They’re fun little ‘friends’. And Kristin is right – they do fight over their finds. It’s hilarious to watch a chicken chase another chicken with some gooey morsel hanging from her mouth.

I’m about to disrupt their lives though and I’m considering adding a rooster. A friend is getting rid of hers and I’m sorely tempted to take him off her hands. I miss that ‘cocka-doodle-doo’ in the morning.

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Erica K February 21, 2009 at 9:05 AM

Cheeseslave, I would love to see a post about why it’s bad to feed soy to chickens. Thanks for all the useful info!

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cheeseslave February 21, 2009 at 11:34 AM

Hi, Erica –

Unfermented soy isn’t good for any living creatures. It should not be consumed unless it is properly fermented, and even then it should only be eaten in small amounts.

Read more about the dangers of soy here:

http://www.westonaprice.org/soy/index.html

Sadly, most livestock — poultry, cow and pigs — in America are being fed soy. Much of this soy is genetically modified which is a whole ‘nother can of worms.

Here are a few pages on the dangers of genetically modified foods:

http://www.seedsofdeception.com/Public/GeneticRoulette/HealthRisksofGMFoodsSummaryDebate/index.cfm

http://www.responsibletechnology.org/GMFree/AboutGMFoods/FAQs/index.cfm#health_dangers

Here is an excellent and extremely informative site on how to feed chickens:

http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Poultry.html

This page is specifically about alternatives to soy chicken feed (I have heard that most feeds are a mix of corn and soy — it’s already mixed in — so a farmer has to go out of their way to make feed that does not contain soy):

http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Soy-Alternatives.html

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jeanmarie September 20, 2011 at 10:24 PM

I will check out the links. I do get soy-free feed, which my local store special-orders for me, but haven’t found soy-free chick feed yet.

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Judy February 21, 2009 at 1:53 PM

Thankfully ours does not contain soy. But we pay a premium compared to what the cost for 50 pounds of feed costs at the feed store. Not to mention it’s an hour away – we work it out so that we do the feed run the same time we do the milk run.

This spring/summer we plan to raise pasture meat birds – and those babies will be pasture – in a tractor coop in the back 20 behind our house. We’re negotiating now with the owner – we’ll swap out chickens and honey for the privilege of using her land.

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Natalie February 21, 2009 at 3:24 PM

Ann Marie,

Now this was a great post! Thanks for all the links on where to find pastured eggs!

I did look through it for my state, but I live on the border of another state, so I’ll look into that state too. I only found a couple of farms having eggs, now I have to call them and see if they are pastured, right? Or, since they are on the local harvest website then they all are pastured? I think I’m slightly confused, still new to all these pastured goodies!

Currently I get the Organic Valley Omega-3 eggs. If it were you, would you completely not eat any eggs until you found pastured, or would they be your second choice when pastured are not available??

What are the basic and most important questions to ask a farmer when looking for pastured eggs?

Thanks so much!
Natalie

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Local Nourishment February 22, 2009 at 12:37 PM

I just this week found pastured chickens! I called so many places and talked to so many farmers that I got it down to a science. The first question is “What do you feed your chickens?” If the answer isn’t “They feed themselves bugs they scratch up,” I move on. Of the 12 local (within 100 miles) farms I spoke to, there were two that didn’t feed soy. Two. So sad. Makes me want to raise my own! Of course, the Homeowner’s Association would kill me…

Local Nourishment’s last blog post..Going way off the beaten path today.

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Kristin February 23, 2009 at 2:57 PM

On the soy thing. It is nearly impossible to avoid. Even most of the seed corn sold in our area is now Round-up Ready. This is another one of those “it’s not so simple” things. The links Ann Marie sites are great but the reality is that Austrian Winter Peas have gone from $15/50 lbs to $30 in just a couple of years. You can get away with feeding chickens strictly grains if they are completely free ranged. Even then, in the winter time or during drought, the chickens need some protein. They suffer without it.

I can ship in organic soy free feed at $25/bag. But it isn’t local (one of my BIG things) and it is more than double the custom mix feed I do buy (that has fish meal for animal protein and whole grains). This custom mix has a small amount of soy in it as does my cow feed.

A popular “all natural” chicken feed is Layena by Purina. This, in my opinion, is a big problem. The main protein source is soy. In order to provide the necessary amino acids the chicken needs, they have to add GMO amino acids. The feed is also highly processed. It is dead. Before I knew better, this is what I fed to my birds. I had all sorts of strange afflictions in my flock (infected, messy behinds, chickens dropping dead for no reason, etc.) Since switching to feeds with some animal protein, whole grains, and adding soured skim milk (which provide good bacteria to the birds’ gutts), my problems have virtually vanished.

But until I can find a local grower for legumes, I’ll at least buy my feeds locally and continue to request the elimination of soy in the feed.

If you can find someone that is allowing their chickens to range (either in movable coops, electric fencing, or completely free) and trying and avoid soy as much as possible, then count yourself blessed. The color and the height of your eggs yolks is your best indicator of nutritional value and quality.

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Rathi February 23, 2009 at 7:41 PM

Here’s a link on cleanrooms for all of you who may be curious.
http://www.criticaltool.com/what-is-a-cleanroom-information-iso-standards.html

Not exactly an “organic” environment now is it?

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Joe February 24, 2009 at 3:40 PM

we get pastured eggs whenever possible, however we live in the cold north ( connecticut)
right now, our local healthfood store has raw milk and pastured eggs from a very clean and wonderful family run farm, the eggs fly off the shelves.
However, the problem im wondering is, that the chickens cant pasture feed in the winter, nor can the cows. So basically the milk at this time of the year is the same as normal milk ( but just raw) would these eggs still be better than the baterry hens? once spring comes though, the raw milk turns a wonderful yelllow, and tastes great. But its rather pale in the winter.

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jeanmarie September 20, 2011 at 10:30 PM

Chickens can eat bugs (and plant matter in some climates) even in winter. I’m in California, so I don’t deal with much snow personally (though we did have some last winter), but I’ve seen plenty of pictures of chickens out in the snow. Some breeds do well in cold climates. They need access to outdoors. Ours spend some time wandering around our farmyard and nearby fields, but we also mulch and water our large chicken yard to make sure there are plenty of bugs for the chickens to eat. Some people grow mealworms especially for their chickens, something I want to get started soon. With enough care and effort, a good diet can be provided year-round. Chickens always need some supplemental feed, but many breeds do well foraging for much of their food every day.

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Anna February 24, 2009 at 5:58 PM

Winter feeding of livestock in cold climates is different, so chances are the cows are getting silage while indoors (slightly fermented chopped up corn stalks, etc.), alalfa, etc. as part of their rations. So, yes, the winter milk isn’t as rich as the milk from fast growing grasses (read Weston A Price’s Nutrition and Physical Degeneration for more about the Alpine Swiss villages and their homage to “june” butter from the spring growth).

The chickens are also probably getting more grain feed while they are confined indoors but I’ll bet they are also being supplemented with some greens and good stuff. They’ll eat cut greens, too, not just living plants. The variety of the eggs, that’s what I like.

All part of local and seasonal, right?

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Kate February 25, 2009 at 4:11 AM

Hey AM, I run a small Co-op in the western suburbs of Adelaide Sth Australia and we are fortunate to have real FR eggs from a local female farmer. Whilst she does suppliment with a little grain, these happy chooks are outside all the time eating bugs, worms, eucalyptus leaves and special herbs. The yolks are a nice orange colour and we sell lots & lots of them as she appears to be the only local farmer with real free range….we are all big fans. 🙂

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RebekahW May 19, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Kate, how do I get hold of this farmer? Recently moved to Adelaide, and I’m keen for some pastures eggs! Thanks!

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Joe February 25, 2009 at 4:13 AM

yeah, i remember back in the summer, i wanted an egg omlet., so i grabbed these eggs outta the fridge, cracked one open into the bowl, and it was the deepest orange egg ive ever seen. They serooiusly are good eggs.

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Joe February 25, 2009 at 4:17 AM

i try to tell people at my gym ( ya know, the chubby guys who are trying to knock off few pounds) that they should eat the yolks and eat complex fiber foods, like beans and proeprly soaked grains, veggies, etc. (they still have trouble with this one)
but then they tell me that they had kashi soy go lean cereal and skim milk, egg white omlet. They think they are being soooo healthy. Good luck loosing weight on that diet. Soy, no iodine, no vitamins, nothing…. i mean kashi alone has like 15 grams of soy protien in it. good bye thyriod… espeically when you cut out the fat and fat soluble vitamins.

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Erica March 1, 2009 at 12:43 AM

Ann Marie,

Do you know of any local farmers in the OC that carry pastured eggs? I can’t seem to find any. I’m experimenting to see if soy-fed animals are part of the reason why my health problems aren’t going away, but I can’t find any store or local farm that carries no-soy eggs. Or, do I need to go out to LA? I’m not sure who you get yours from..

Thanks,
Erica

Erica’s last blog post..Nutrition Consultants: Have you seen this video??

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Michelle August 15, 2013 at 2:13 PM

Hi Erica, When you say OC I assume you mean Orange County, Ca? There are several places to get pastured eggs. A few are, Primalpastures.com local pick up sites Long Beach, Costa Mesa. Angelosfarms.com sells at Seal Beach, Brea, Long Beach farmers markets. Heavenlyacre.com in La Habra Heights. Ray’s Ranch of Temecula at Orange Home Grown, Laguna Beach, Laguna Niguel and Irvine Farmers Markets. Dey Dey’s (bestbeefever.com) at Orange Home Grown farmers market. You can contact Marsha Youde healthylifestyle101@yahoo.com (South OC Weston Price Chapter) for an extensive list.

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Vera April 11, 2009 at 5:48 PM

Our family is considering raising our own hens. We’re looking on the internet about how to raise/feed them, but none of the information out there is really right for the way we want to keep them, that is, no soy or any of that gross stuff, so we’re somewhat clueless. Does anyone have any advice? Thanks!

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Heather February 23, 2011 at 1:30 PM

I use non-soy feed for my chickens. A great resource is http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/OrganicChickens/
It’s a world-wide organic forum for chicken raising. I’ve learned tons from this forum including holistic herbal and homorpathic treatment. The archives have tons of info for making your own feed if you cannot find soy-free.

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star June 23, 2009 at 11:20 AM

can somone locate me a source where will able to find pastured eggs shipped to me in new york or new jersey?

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Tina July 25, 2013 at 9:18 PM

I get organic produce and other organic goodies, such as organic pastured eggs, delivered right to my door through a company called “Door To Door Organics”; they deliver to customers from the Tristate area (NY, NJ, CT). Just log onto doortodoororg.com & check it out!

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Debra January 27, 2010 at 5:07 PM

I live in Los Angeles and try hard to find pastured eggs. However, I have been disappointed in some sold at Farmer’s Markets claiming to be free range/pastured — pale yolks and runny whites — including one source you mentioned. Do you have an update to this blog entry with any new recommendations on good pastured egg sources sold in LA area farmers markets? Many thanks.

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Kelsie February 1, 2010 at 6:18 PM

ALL WRONG! If you knew anything about the poultry industry you wouldnt be saying half the things you are. Do you know why we wear thos white suits? BIOSECURITY! Look it up! And the hens in the layer houses half enough room and its so sanitary in there its unbelievable (hence the biosecurity). They have a very healthy diet and water at all times. All the chickens are very well cared for.

If you and all these other people are getting your information from PETA, HSUS, etc., you need to get a real credible Ag source. All those organizations lie, conduct their own tests, videos, whatever and dont tell you the truth about the agriculture industry. If you do see a picture of a sick chicken in a layer house or whatever then ya know its incredibly outdated or ever think about this, ANOTHER COUNTRY! United States has the MOST health standards, we have the safest food in the world. And if you want to go buy cage free eggs because its more humane (and definitley not as clean because they sit out in a pasture all day and more suseptible to diseases) you are going to drive this industry into the ground in this country because labor will go up intensivlely and you will soon be buying eggs from Mexico and you dont even want to know their health standards. They dont have any.

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Podchef February 1, 2010 at 11:23 PM

Kelsie methinks you protest too much, or have they just upped your lithium dose? The US does not have the World’s best welfare standards for poultry or any other livestock–the UK does. And they are doing their best–without the help of PETA or HSUS–to get rid of confined, battery chicken operations.

You wear those biosuits because anything you bring in to the chicken house would cause the birds to drop like flies–and visa versa….Those so called clean, happy, wonderful confined chickens are captive in a room thick with ammonia, dander, fecal particulates, general dust, and airborne bacteria and viruses. Chances are any normal person stuck in a poultry house, unsuited, would be screaming to be let out, pressed up against the ventilation fans, and end up very sick indeed.

There is one reason why people buy eggs from standard poultry operations..the cheapness of the eggs buys their conscience. Any consumer who could spend the 30 minutes getting showered, suited and booted to step into a bio-secure poultry house and then follow the reverse procedure, would stop eating the pale, sick, flavorless product of such concentration camps immediately.

It wasn’t always so. Sustainable, small scale–indoor–poultry operations used to thrive and provide a valuable income to thousands of small American farmers. These units were open to people to visit and were small, family operations all over the country. That is until monopolistic corporations turned the whole thing on its side and strove for vertical integration and the bottom line.

But I understand your reaction to Cheese Slave’s post…You’re scared, and well you should be. The times they are a changing. You can crow all you want, but the ground swell will carry you on whether you like it or not.

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D. February 6, 2011 at 1:35 PM

Kelsie, why on earth would you need biosecurity suits to work with chickens? Do you realize how ridiculous that sounds, especially to me who was raised on a farm where we had our own chickens who lived in a rundown old chicken coop where they only spent nights on perches, because during the daytime they were out in the pasture where all chickens should be, eating insects, grass and grain seeds, and gravel. Where did you get the idea that chickens will “pick up disease” from being outdoors in a pasture?? I’d really like to hear an explanation of that one.

My reason for using pastured eggs has really nothing to do with the humane aspect, although I do LOVE that part. My reason is because they’re much higher in nutrients. Most of us who are in the know about eggs (and chickens in general, for that matter) get our nutrition information from http://www.westonaprice.org You should too, because you’re sorely misinformed. It would seem you’re misinformed on many fronts, but that is not surprising if you are listening to anything government related or some higher education institution who can’t see the jungle for the ferns.
I agree with a couple of the other posters here. You do protest too much. Tell ya what . . . you eat the store eggs, we’ll eat our pastured eggs. k?

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Kat February 1, 2010 at 11:46 PM

Believe what you want about how the chickens are being treated and what is ‘clean’ or ‘safe’. When you crack open a CAFO egg and compare it to a pastured egg, the difference cannot even be described in words. If these CAFO chickens are so healthy, then why are the eggs from them so awful (taste, texture, color, everything)?

I hate that money even factors into this debate considering how much America spends on health care (a lot of which stems from eating such bad food). I’d rather pay more for eggs and eat less of them if that’s what it takes to change these operations over to more natural farming methods. Would be nice of the government to help small scale farmers too, but that might be asking too much.

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RJ February 2, 2010 at 12:21 AM

Hmm, I don’t know about layers, but we have a poultry processing plant here in town and the chickens going in don’t look so healthy, at least from the sores I can see on them as I drive past on the interstate. It’s a great reminder not to buy my poultry from the supermarket.

I recently started buying pastured eggs again from a friend. I had forgotten how orange the yolks are and how hard the shells are. Nothing like the store eggs with their pale yellow yolks and their fragile shells.

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Bryan - oz4caster February 2, 2010 at 1:09 AM

Eggs from truly pastured chickens are the best by far. A picture is worth a thousand words: tale of two eggs 🙂

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danny allen May 19, 2010 at 11:16 AM

I raise pastured chickens. My question is this, if I switch brands of feed on the chickens will it affect their laying? Sometimes I buy one brand of feed for them and when they run out of feed, I sometimes buy a different brand at a different feed store .Should I stay with one brand?

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D. February 6, 2011 at 1:57 PM

Danny, why are you buying feed if your chickens are pastured? You should only need feed during the cold months, if you live in an area where winters are a problem.

Someone mentioned types of feed in one of the posts above. Mixtures of flax seed, fish meal and I don’t remember what else.

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Mommypotamus June 9, 2010 at 11:16 PM

I love how you break down nutrient dense foods on a cost-per-ounce basis. And that Trader Joe’s carton? Absolutely priceless. I’m linking to this blog tomorrow in my post on budgeting for real food. Thanks for the great info!
.-= Mommypotamus´s last blog ..Boppy Total Body Pillow Winner! =-.

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Mariana November 16, 2010 at 1:06 AM

Wow, thank you, thank you, thank you for all of this wonderful information! I have recently become aware also that “cage free” eggs mean absolutely nothing and have been doing research on this subject. There is so much conflicting information and this is the first website that I have come across that has cleared things up a bit for me. The resources for all of the farms that ship and that raise their animals humanely was spectacular.

Thnaks again!

Mariana

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Jennifer March 8, 2011 at 10:04 AM

Thankyou for this post and informing people with your blog! We are getting our own chickens soon and I’m so excited. They are going to roam daily in our fenced in backyard so we can have our own pastured eggs. I’m thinking of all the bugs they will eat and hopefully take care of alot of those mosquitos we have in summer!
In contrast, I used to live out in the country (now we live in the city) and it makes me sad with all those fields and pasture they have turkey and hog HOUSES littered across the county. Sadly even my relatives own turkey houses. And the smell……its disgusting! You know before you even see it that its there just driving by because its awful! Not right! I wish farmers, etc would realize how much harm they are doing by raising animals this way. Sad for animals and sad for people eating their products.

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D. March 8, 2011 at 10:56 AM

Jennifer, keeping turkeys and hogs, etc., in buildings (coops, etc.) is of prime importance depending on where you live. I live in the far northern part of the US and it gets way too cold around here to just let animals run outside all the time. I agree with you that the smell is disgusting, but we don’t all live where there’s warmth and sunshine year ’round. Today it’s only 15 degrees here and it has been snowing since about 2:00 a.m. — we have about 7 inches on the ground (new snow) on top of the 5 inches we had left from the last storm.

Wild turkeys might do well in this weather, but domesticated birds and other animals will not fare well without protection.

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Jennifer March 25, 2011 at 7:09 AM

I understand that they need protection from cold weather, however that doesnt explain why they are stuck in a hot house practically smothering on each other during the summer. We live in NC and it gets very hot and humid! To me they need protection from the heat and when so many bodies are crammed together, I dont care how high the fans are going its just wrong. Why not have a sheltered place for them in winter and pasture for when weather is nice and sunny? Surely they would be healthier and need less antobiotics, etc if they were allowed to roam free and find shade when needed. On that point also bugs and fresh grass. Sure supplement in the winter when its hard to forage and shelter them from the cold but dont confine them. It just doesnt make sense all around. I really dont think that they would stay out in the freezing cold verses a shelter in very cold conditions. My chickens go into their coop at dusk every night and I didnt have to teach them that! The want to be safe and sheltered from predators, cold, etc. Also there are plenty of cold hardy breeds of chickens out there. Think of how you would feel if you were forced to live a life shut up, standing in your own feces all day and with hardly any room to breathe? Any person, let alone animals would be sick and unhealthy and certainly not happy. All I am saying is that people should think about things and consider the effects of their farming practices and be open to more healthy options, because it effects all of us not just the animals.

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Jack Kronk March 23, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Look at this post I made on PaleoHacks.com about the incredible difference between Organic Free Roaming vs Pastured Eggs.

http://paleohacks.com/questions/26785/pastured-egg-vs-organic-egg-nutritional-difference#axzz1HRj1J5In

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Erika March 25, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Thank you for informing people of the difference between Pastured and Free Range eggs. There really is a huge difference in taste and texture. When using them to bake with there is an even bigger difference.

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Thomas April 22, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Great article! We have just started selling our eggs(free range of course!) and everybody that try’s them can tell the difference. Great article/read!

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laura May 4, 2011 at 10:08 PM

Great article!!!
So true, vegetarian eggs are a bunch of B.S.

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Sylvia May 30, 2011 at 7:16 PM

Cheapest way to go is to raise your own chickens. We do. This way we absolutely know the health of the chickens and what they are being fed. We also know that they are kept in a large outdoor pen with a coop so that they have less access to eating worms. Yes, they may love to eat earthworms, but earthworms digest roundworm and cecal eggs. With completely cage free chickens you have a HUGE chance of cracking open an egg and finding a round worm in it. That’ll ruin eggs for you forever. So free range eggs from a farmer that has a large outdoor pen and a good clean coop is your best bet. Still even better is raising them yourself.

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Crystal - Prenatal Coach June 7, 2011 at 10:04 PM

GREAT POST! Thank you. I was going to write about the differences but you wrote this so well that I’m just going to share your post instead 🙂

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paisley July 1, 2011 at 4:24 PM

We raise our own pastured hens (and turkeys, ducks and meat chickens). But I have yet to find any organic feed that doesn’t have soybeans in it. Very frustrating. The best I could do was a local place that makes its own, so at least I know it is fresh. But it still has soy. When I asked them about it, they told me that in order to get the right % of protein in the feed, they pretty much have to use soy. I wonder what the non-soy chickens eat? I’d love to know.

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Meagan October 22, 2011 at 1:00 PM

They eat bugs and live outside. Chickens are omnivores (their natural diet) and should be eating things like worms and bugs. VEG fed chickens are UNHAPPY!

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Alisue July 2, 2011 at 7:33 AM

I am blessed to have access to pastured eggs for $1.75 a dz….thanks for this post!

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Louise July 2, 2011 at 2:03 PM

Anybody have a suggestion where to find organic pastured eggs in Central New Jersey?

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bash147 July 2, 2011 at 7:11 PM

It really is amazing the difference between pastured eggs and even fresh eggs from chickens fed a conventional diet. The pastured eggs are sooo much richer and much more delicious. +100 for pastured eggs 🙂

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BlackSheepPrincess July 4, 2011 at 12:01 PM

this was SO helpful! thanks for the post!

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LeahS July 19, 2011 at 10:58 AM

that is a very disturbing picture and shows that the focus is on ALL the wrong things!

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Big Red August 7, 2011 at 1:45 PM

There’s a reason why “supermarket” eggs are the way they are. Because if everyone switched to pastured eggs, there would not be enough to go around, period. Then the demand would push the price to $100 as dozen (ok, I have no idea what the real economic push would be, but you get the idea) It’s all so “pie in the sky” to sing the joys and pleasures of these incredibly niche items when is the fact that they CANNOT EVER BE the mainstream that makes them so special in the first place. It’s cost prohibitive, land prohibitive and so on. You can have your little warm fuzzy about eating a “better” egg from a “happy” chicken, but it won’t make the world change – you and the other converts will be the only ones… still. The entire reason that those nostalgic red barns no longer exist and the windowless buildings are now in their place is because America needs more eggs than pasture raising can provide, end of story.

It’s the same for organic grass-fed beef, milk, produce and all other “true farm raised” items. Subsistence farming is gone, modern life demands modern techniques, right? Do I like GMO crops or antibiotic-laden meat? No, of course not, but that’s what’s available to someone who isn’t making a six-figure salary. As for nutrition – for every study that states that one way of raising something makes for a more nutritious end product, I can point you toward another that states the complete opposite. So who’s to be believed?

Hey, did those old-time farmers have blogs? I didn’t think so.

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Timothy August 10, 2011 at 10:26 PM

@Big Red:
I can see what you’re going for here, but your argument isn’t really balanced. Though it is true that with modern population densities and land values the way they are, it isn’t actually feasible for everyone who wants a pastured egg to get one – not to replace every egg that is currently bought. If people didn’t expect to be able to get eggs at the drop of a hat then you can imagine a world where it would be possible. But, realistically, we aren’t going to be in that world anytime soon.

The real reason those red barns no longer exist is because companies wanted to save pennies and decided that caging chickens in massive amounts was the cheapest way to do so (it was). Then, everyone had to do it to stay competitive. Thus an expectation that people can get as many eggs as they want, whenever they want was born. Most people won’t buy a dozen eggs based on brand, they will buy based on price, and maybe a label like “cage free” or “organic”. An egg is an egg to most people now that we have taken all of the meaning out of it.

So don’t be confusing pastured egg farmers for bad guys. The truth as I see it is, we’re living in a society where peoples’ psyches are distracted from (even purposefully blinded to) animal welfare concerns. These types of efforts are necessary to retain a balanced view in the long run. I’m not a vegetarian, but I definitely believe it is a bad future to imagine where we treat animals like slaves. Haven’t we learned from treating our fellow humans that way?

Also, I’m not sure that you would be able to find a study saying what you claim (not an independent one, and probably not even a company-sponsored one). But, although nutrition science is still just in it’s young adult stages, common sense isn’t. And, no, I don’t think common sense is a good replacement for science. But sometimes, there isn’t any science AT ALL.

Sure, there’s a Mother Earth News study based on nutrition differences between 14 pastured egg farms across the country versus the standard the USDA gives to confined hens’ eggs. But the sample size is too small, and a single USDA figure is a bad control, so that study doesn’t hold water all by itself, in my book (not to say it isn’t a start). But using common sense (and the visits that I’ve paid to one pastured egg farm and a modern large-scale organic egg operation), it seems near certain to me that these pastured hens are healthier, more exercised, and therefore produce healthier food for me to eat.

And, by the way, wanting to eat the healthiest food between your available options doesn’t mean you can’t make a blog post. They are completely separate. The argument that technology is on Big Ag’s side whereas it isn’t on pastured farmers’ sides is silly.

Separate issues, but you brought them up: non-GMO options are on average 10% more expensive than GM options. You don’t need six figures. Also, using antibiotics preventatively hasn’t been shown to be cost-effective anyways, in my book.

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Sheryl August 10, 2011 at 8:29 PM

the more eggs we sell the more chickens we will buy and expand to meet demand . which is 100 % right now . but when there is a re-call and you want triple from us it ain’t happening . we will only produce what we can sell and it cannot happen over night
So if you want it support it

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Meagan October 22, 2011 at 12:58 PM

JUST found this. Saturday Santa Monica is on my next farmers market list!

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Your Eggman November 20, 2011 at 10:38 PM

free range pastured eggs in Waco, Texas year round 405-2941 open 8 am till 8 pm Monday through Saturday

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Paul M December 27, 2011 at 8:57 PM

Found this blog through google search: “pastured eggs” – you were the second link.

I noticed that the biggest obstacle to finding real pastured eggs for many of us is geography. If you live in a warmer climate, it’s must be much easier to find a local farm that sells these eggs year round.

I live in Maine and winter gets very cold here. After much searching, the closest pastured eggs I could find for sale is 18 miles away, and that’s only for about half the year. That’s because the farmer has to keep their hens inside a barn out of the winter elements for about five months and supplement their feed pretty heavily with soy meal, otherwise the hens would starve.

I found four other pastured egg farmers within a 50 mile radius and every one of them have to do the same thing, bring the hens in for the long cold winter months and feed them soy meal.

I can’t raise my own hens because I live in an apartment building. Even if I could raise hens, I’d have to face the same winter dilemma as everyone else anyway. lol

There are five different grocers within a mile of me and together they sell about 15 different brands of eggs, not one of them is “pastured”. I always have to laugh when some of the egg packaging advertise, “100% vegetarian feed” as though that was a healthy thing to do for the hen and the consumer.

I’ll just have to keep waiting until the green grass starts growing before I can start buying pastured eggs again 🙁

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Jenne Johnson February 10, 2012 at 12:37 PM

I’ve read somewhere that soy ferments in the crop of the chicken and that the fermentation made the soy safe. Also, would the soy’s estrogen like qualities be transferred to the egg? Confusing stuff. We use organic feed, no GMO, but pay a pretty penny for it. If we switched to special ordering soy free it would probably push the whole thing over our budget. I’m going to check out the link on feeding chickens for more info.

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Megan March 24, 2012 at 7:28 PM

Great post. I found out about options in my area that I didn’t even now existed.

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Sean April 6, 2012 at 12:24 AM

1. If a chicken is “Free range” Doesn’t that mean that they are free to roam?

2. Where can i buy “Pastured” Eggs. I have access to Whole Foods, Sprouts, and main chain grocery stores.

3. Are “Organic Valley” and “Chino Valley Farmers” Any good? Thats what i usually get. I never buy the name grocer brand organic eggs.

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Timothy April 6, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Disclaimer: I work for a natural food retailer who carries only cage-free eggs with a large amount of space given to pastured eggs as well. I talk to farmers and have visited a few farms to see what conditions are like. I have not spent a large amount of time on chicken farms in general.

1) I will give you the short free-range answer first, then add more ways in which the term is used at the bottom of the post:
Eggs which state “Free Range” on the carton must be allowed some amount of access to the outdoors, but the size, quality and duration of access of that outdoor area is not regulated. In realistic terms, what this means is that there is usually a little area attached to the barn which is fenced off. Some of hens will go out there at times, some will not. Farmers have told me it depends on their personality. The area will rarely be big enough for a large portion of the hens to be out there all at once. Almost all of their time will be spent indoors, but they will not have cages, and will be free to roam, spread their wings, and perhaps fly, around the barn.

http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.html

2) You can find pastured eggs in the following locations: Farmer’s Markets, independent natural grocery stores, and some Whole Foods. I’m not sure about Sprouts. The only national brand of pastured egg is Vital Farms, those are coming from Texas. I would look for local pastured eggs, since they will likely be fresher. In northern CA there are a TON of farms that you can find. Clark Summit Farm, Marin Sun Farm, St John Family Farm, Sinclair Family Farm. Look for the label “pastured” or “pasture-raised”. Even though these terms are not regulated at this time, I have yet to see an abuse of the label as far as eggs go.

3) I think Organic Valley an Chino Valley Ranchers are both doing decent jobs with their eggs (Organic Valley in No. CA is the same as Judy’s Family Farm – they try to be branded with local eggs inside wherever you are). Other people are not as forgiving as me when it comes to cage-free eggs. They are NOT pastured, they are definitely indoor raised, no cages, with access to some kind of outdoor porch. No access to grass or bugs, etc.

Addendum: Free-range is also used in other ways. When it comes to cows, free-range means that they are allowed to roam on pastures for miles, there is no fenced-in pasture they are kept in. In Europe it refers to this same idea for all kinds of animals. It is animal husbandry without fences. Free-range used to be the terms used by pastured egg farms. With the degradation of the term “Free-range” to be very similar to “Cage-free”, “Pastured” has become the new norm for the hens being outdoors almost all of the time.

Hope this helps.

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Sean April 6, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Wow Tim, thanks for taking the time that was very informative.

One last thing.

I found the Vital Farms eggs at Whole Foods. Now you say they are based out of Texas. But on the back they have the address and zip codes corresponding to a bunch of states including ca, nm, wa, la, ar, tx. So since i live in Long Beach Ca. does that mean i am getting california eggs?

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Timothy April 6, 2012 at 2:13 PM

I haven’t spoken with Vital Farms in the last few months, but it would surprise me if they had farms anywhere except in the Texas vicinity. Usually when you find another address on the packaging, that is so that the eggs can legally be sold in that state. At least some states have laws that if you are selling a retail egg in that state there must be some in-state inspection it goes through, and that is what the address will be related to.

When I spoke with a representative of Vital Farms in the early Winter/late Fall last year they confirmed that the eggs were coming from Austin, Texas, or from a couple of farms near Texas in the south.

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Sean April 6, 2012 at 2:17 PM

So overall. Including the freshness factor from Texas. And the possibility of the eggs that i buy from Cali are not pastured. Which would be better?

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Tyler May 17, 2012 at 11:31 AM

I am from Santa Monica too! Cool, now I know where to get quality eggs, I had bought the 100% vege fed eggs at whole foods because that is all I saw even though I knew chickens are vegetarians…I should check out the next farmers market and get some real eggs next time.

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Tyler May 17, 2012 at 11:32 AM

aren’t*

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bruce June 27, 2012 at 9:09 AM

Just pay $2 a dozen… go to your area in Craigs List and click on farms and gardening then type the keyword “fresh” in the search box and there you are, all kinds of small farmers and small backyard farms selling fresh eggs, milk, veggies, fruit, nuts even meats! If I had a yard and lived outside city zoning, I would raise and sell eggs too for the good of the community and for a sense of satisfaction. We need to get back to our roots and stop letting gov’t dictate every aspect of our life folks!

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Somebody August 6, 2012 at 5:06 AM

I could not agree more with your message: that the the eggs from hens allowed to live in pastures are vastly superior to any alternatives I have heard of; however, people dealing with a large number of birds wear the protective suits to help prevent the spread of disease both to and from the site. In fact, a typical employee is neither allowed to own their own bird nor to have any close contact with birds outside the work place.

Moreover, in order to feed an absurdly large population, which is not interested in self-sufficiency on the micro-scale, supermarkets and farmers have helped make available a rather healthy, sustainable alternative: omega-3 eggs. While not quite as close to Pasture-nurtured eggs, the alternative is, fortunately, producible on larger scales.

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Timothy August 6, 2012 at 2:49 PM

I understand the difficulties of having enough eggs per person, and it’s not a simple question. But, I don’t think Omega-3 eggs can be claimed to be healthy and sustainable as a general rule.

Omega-3 eggs usually have flax added to their feed, and this means that you aren’t getting much of the truly necessary omega-3s DHA and EPA. Flax doesn’t have any DHA/EPA to start with, and only a limited amount will be produced in the body when consumed. The best omega-3 eggs are the ones that add algae into the diet, but those are extremely rare.

Also, omega-3 feed says nothing about the sustainability of the farm/operation. You could be getting eggs from a toxic/cruel farm which just happens to add flax into the hens’ diet if you aren’t carefully choosing your brand.

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Heather August 6, 2012 at 2:57 PM

I have 40 chickens and I feed them soy-free organic feed. It has seaweed in it and also flax. They also get sprouted grains daily, lots of greens daily and raw goat milk kefir once a week. The yolks are orange and yummy:) They are also in a pasture with 2 guard llamas. Llamas do not bond to chickens, but we’re adding goats in the near future and they will actively protect them. With the chickens, they give us a warning call if bobcats or coyotes are around.

Here’s the ingredients of their feed.

Magill Ranch Cascade Layer Poultry Feed, Organic – Corn & Soy Free

Ingredients: Organic Peas, Organic Barley, Organic Wheat, Fish Meal, Organic Flax Oil, Dicalcium Phosphate, Dehydrated Seaweed Meal, Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Organic Wheat Middlings, Vitamin A supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Vitmain E supplement, Menadione Nicotinamide Bisulfite, Riboflavin Supplement, )-Calcium Pantothenic Acid, Niacin Supplement, Choline Chloride, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Folic Acid, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Pyridoxine Hydrchloride, Biotin, Manganese Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Calcium Iodate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Dried Aspergillus oryzac Fermentation Extract, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Dried fermentaion product of Lactobacillus acidophilus, Dried fermentation produt of Lactobacillus casei, Dried fermentation product of Lactobacillus planatum, Dried fermentation product of Enterococcus faecium, Dried fermentation product of Bacillus coagulans, Dried fermentation product of Bacillus Licheniformis, and Dried fermentation product of Baccilus Subtilis, Dried Asperfillus Niger Germentation Extract.

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Russ DuBois August 9, 2012 at 8:38 PM

I love eggs!

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Ignacio Ortiz August 15, 2012 at 8:25 AM

Good morning Ann.
This is the first time that I read your blog, and let me tell you thet it´s very interesting, congratulations!!
I am an organic farmer from Mexico, being more specific form the state of Morelos.
I am not really sure of how´s organic production at US, but I can tell you that at least we make the things very different.
I wonder if you can visit my web site or my faceboof page, finding me as Finca Guayacán, and take a look of our farm.
Also i would love if you can send me the studies that you show in the blog, Mexico´s organic production is like in developement, and we don´t have acces to that information.
Thank you Ann, and congratulations, your blog is very good!!

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Spider-Man August 30, 2012 at 12:40 AM

I get pleasure from, cause I found exactly what I was having a look for. You have ended my 4 day lengthy hunt! God Bless you man. Have a nice day. Bye

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Tara September 25, 2012 at 8:34 PM

Hi…what Santa Monica farmers market do you go to for the eggs? I am local. Thx!

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cheeseslave September 26, 2012 at 8:59 AM

I go to the Main St and the Promenade markets

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Katrina G October 23, 2012 at 5:11 PM

You made many good points, and you are indeed right about the cost being equal to the benefits. But, your stance is one that seems to assume that money isn’t an issue.

Its not that people don’t want to get more for their dollar, or that they are being cheap or lazy. I personally do not know anyone, including myself, that can afford $5/dz and $10 gal milk.

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cheeseslave October 23, 2012 at 8:55 PM

@Katrina G

Not sure where you live. That’s what it costs HERE in LA. These things are a lot cheaper in other cities/states.

If you can’t afford organic/pastured, then use less meat/milk and eat more beans and grains. Buying whole chickens is also a great way to save — you can use bone broth from the chicken bones.

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carrie kind January 9, 2013 at 8:07 AM

ooh- my local dairy farmer only charges $2/dozen eggs, and $4.50/gallon raw milk. apparently I have it made here!!!!

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Sweet Pea's Mommy January 9, 2013 at 9:34 PM

I am in So Cal also and I just discovered Santa Monica’s Promenade (downtown) farmers market today! Wow! There are so many options that I didn’t have a chance to check them all out.

Where do you buy your ground beef for $4 a pound? I’m finding $5 to be the lowest I have come across and would love another source!

Actually, would you mind sharing your sources of many things that you buy locally?!?! The second hardest part of switching to Paleo for the Whole30 is the sourcing…the cooking is the hardest, but I’m slowly getting better at that part.

Thank you for all the wonderful advice and information you share!!!!

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Bruce January 9, 2013 at 9:49 PM

I found a farmer north of Dallas selling live roosters $5 and doz duck eggs $5 and he has food handlers permit… in other words he is up on regulations for food safety. His eggs were really clean and the containers were new looking so he knows his stuff. I got 15 doz eggs from him. Can’t wait to get a live rooster yum!

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Annie February 6, 2013 at 4:02 AM

Bruce,
What is a food Handlers permit? Does it say Organic,soy free, Pasture eggs, etc.?
Clean, and clean containers really do not mean much! Who says it is up to regulations?
Do you mean to burst your bubble.

I live in California, and I just paid 7.00 a doz for Organic, pasture, soy free, eggs.
I do think it is pricey, but for the cost of each egg and the nutrients in it, it is really a good price.

@bk,
Pasteurized eggs do not produce more nutrition..Organic, pasture, soy free eggs do.
They have more Omega 3 , and not omega 6..
regular store bought eggs, do Not have as much nutrient in them..

Why would anyone have to wear white lab suits for chicken eggs!! Because they are not raising Free range Organic , soy free , pasture chicken eggs! There pasteurized, and not healthy eggs. They do not have as much Omega 3 as pasture eggs have etc..look it up on google, or Mother Earth Magazine.

Sorry if this is mis-spelled..my new apple computer is goofy, and I’m not use to it yet!!!

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bk January 10, 2013 at 8:11 AM

You point out about the organic producers workers wearing these suits but you don’t say why and make it seem like it’s a bad thing? There could be some perfectly logical reasons why right?. And it isn’t explained how pasteurized eggs produce more nutritional value when everyone knows pasteurization ie: heat, destroys many nutrients. Can someone knowledgeable please clarify these thoughts. Thanks

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Mountain man February 22, 2013 at 9:20 AM

I want pastured eggs, but they are $7.00 dozen in the store and $8.00 at farmers market. Also raw milk is around $20 gallon. I live in the Santa Cruz area. I buy raw milk but not pastured eggs, I buy organic bulk eggs for $3.50 dozen, they are a bit smaller.

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Kristina Campbell March 26, 2013 at 8:19 PM

The pastured eggs in my local area, Santa Cruz, cost $9 per dozen. I have yet to make the leap… But the clean suits are freaking me out and this post may just be the thing to push me not the $9 dozen!

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Annie March 27, 2013 at 3:11 AM

Mountain man & Kristina,
If you figure the nutrition in one Pastured etc. egg, and the cost, there is nothing else you can buy for that price! It’s a little over .50 cents an egg.
I just noticed that my doz eggs have gone up to $7.50 now.
I do think its pricey to pay 9.00 a doz.
Have you called around to smaller (not whole foods) Health food stores in your area.
As they might be able to tell you of someone that sells pastured eggs.!!

At this point, we are starting to build a chicken coop,that has a chain link fence around it, So the Bob Cats cannot get in, along with the other animals we have around here.
I only want 4 Hens and NO Roosters..I’m not into killing my chickens, we only the eggs.
I also live in California.

I have also read, that people in high rises in Manhattan are now raising chickens on there balconies/patios!..

There are mills around that will make the chicken feed to what you want..No Gmo, No Soy, No corn etc..

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Annie April 11, 2013 at 4:27 AM

Just wanted to mention that you can buy Soy Free Organic eggs at, Chino Valley Ranchers. Although the chickens are not pastured…

http://www.chinovalleyranchers.com/our_eggs_soy_free_organic.asp

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Michelle C. May 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Find a local small farm to purchase your eggs, they’ll be MUCH cheaper. The pastured eggs at the Whole Foods near me sells eggs for $7 or more, yet I buy my eggs from a local farm for about $3.25 for a dozen. That’s 1/3 the price and even cheaper than the organic “free-range” eggs from the grocery store, which were at least $3.50. Plus you get to see exactly where your eggs come from.

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Kati May 3, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Even the organic cage free egg have these issues??? Ugh. I feel like the options are so limited. thanks for sharing. This definitely gives me some things to think about next time I make a purchase.

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Kurt May 15, 2013 at 5:56 PM

My understanding of pastured hens is that they are fenced in on a grassy area. My hens are free to roam wherever they want on the farm, hence true free-range. Although I still feed them roasted soybeans, I grind my own organic corn, oats and alfalfa-timothy hay for them. Several of my customers contend that they are the best tasting eggs at our local farmers market. I wondered why that might be, so I asked a fellow farmer who also works for Cornell University, why that might be. He contends that true free-range hens vs. pastured are more at liberty to roam and have more access to worms and bugs.

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Donna M. July 26, 2013 at 10:45 PM

I couldn’t read all the comments, but Vital Farms Eggs out of Austin TX sells pastured eggs. They contract other pastured egg farms to meet their supply and demand. Sold at Whole Foods and other natural foods stores. Find them via Google and Youtube.

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nami August 12, 2013 at 12:19 AM

i like this new term ‘pasteured’ eggs….it seems ppl still think organic and ffree range are the same when they are not. according to rigorous organic standards, a chicken that does not access outdoors should not qualify to be labelled organic. ‘factory farms’ should also not qualify as organic. chickens do eat bugs and worms, but they also eat anything else they find, including vegetables, growing veggies and seedlings…..and even dog poop. IF additional feeding is given, it should also be organic for the chickens to be labelled organic.

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Annie August 15, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Hi Cathy,
I’m just about ready to raise only 4 chickens for our own eggs
Do your chickens at night go into an enclosed area , so the bad animals do not eat them?
I know I will have to give them other food. I was going to go to a mill to get the mix I want, cause I do not want Soy. It is very expensive, and a long drive there.
What do you feed your chickens so they do not eat soy etc??

Thank you,
Annie

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Cheryl August 21, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Our Whole Foods sells “Pasture-Raised Organic Eggs” from Vital Farms. They are almost $7 a dozen, which is much higher than the Free Ranged Organic eggs. Do you know anything about these? Are they true pastured eggs and worth the extra money?

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C. S. Smith November 13, 2013 at 5:55 AM

So unless someone changed the definitions of “free-range’ and pastured, I think you have things clouded a bit, Growing up on a Family Farm with about 200 “free-range chickens that freely roamed the fields and farm proper I can telll you, Free-range livestock are permitted to roam without being fenced in, as opposed to fenced-in pastures…

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C. S. Smith November 13, 2013 at 6:05 AM

In poultry-keeping, “free range” is widely confused with yarding, which means keeping poultry in fenced yards. Yarding, as well as floorless portable chicken pens (“chicken tractors”) may have some of the benefits of free-range livestock but, in reality, the methods have little in common with the free-range method…….

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star December 25, 2013 at 9:38 PM

help me get pastured soy free white shell eggs to me in Brooklyn new York

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Linda @ The Fitty February 13, 2016 at 7:35 AM

I can’t seem to access pasture raised eggs, so if you had to choose between free range/cage free eggs and organic eggs, which one would you choose and why? Which one would be more nutritious?

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