These are too good to waste on the neighbors house. I’ve been studying up a bit on eggs. While “cage free” eggs are all the rage, the term cage free has no meaning. It’s not a regulated term like “certified organic” it’s more like the term “natural” which has no meaning either because it’s not regulated. While “pasture raised” as far as I can tell is not a regulated term, it does seem to have some industry protection in that true pasture egg producers would raise holy hell at an industrial commercial egg farm if they used the term.
Pasture raised eggs are those that are from chickens that are raised on smaller farms where the chickens are given a minimum of 108 square feet of rotated pasture space each to cluck and socialize, root for worms, grubs, bugs and peck. Birds from large commercial farms have their beaks trimmed so they don’t injure other birds in close quarters.
One advantage to the pasture raised eggs is the additional protein the birds ingest from the bug buffet they are entitled to on a daily basis. The additional protein is transferred to the egg making it more nutritious. Also the egg just taste more “eggy”. Much like how a heirloom tomato tastes much more like a tomato than the bland tomatoes found in most stores.
Chickens will produce eggs on their own, but to make them more reliable layers, they need supplemental feed. I won’t go into all the details about the horrors included in some feed like PCB’s, mercury, etc. but the quality of the nutrition of the feed is obviously important as the feed is transferred eventually into the egg you buy in the store.
$6.99 a dozen seems to be about the price to pay for top of the line pasture raised, non GMO, organically fed eggs (price from my local Whole Foods). There are different classes of pasture raised eggs such as organic fed but may contain GMO feed, or non organic feed. The price declines with the decline in the quality of feed as non GMO, organic feed is the most expensive feed. The increase in price of pasture raised eggs is also due to the increased labor involved in pasture raising chickens as opposed to keeping them in small, stress inducing cages. Locally, Whole Foods has several brands of pasture eggs ranging from~$4.99-$6.99 a dozen. I also found them at this co-op for $4.99 a dozen for medium-size. You don’t have to be a member of the co-op to purchase the eggs. Pasture raised eggs are also available at Central Market and some Kroger’s. Many come from Vital Farms. If you want to check how your egg rates, here’s a list of many egg producers.