Which came first, the chicken or the egg? While the jury is still out on the answer to that question, there is no doubt that how a hen is raised will affect the taste and quality of its eggs. Here's how to decode the buzz words on your egg carton, so that you can fuel your practice with the highest quality eggs – whether you’re an early bird or a night owl.
Get a crash course on the different breeding practices:
Hens that are raised by this standard are raised in a barn or warehouse without a cage, meaning they are allowed to practice many of their natural behaviors like walking, nesting and spreading their wings. These hens generally do not have access to the outdoors and there is no rule as to how much space each hen must be allowed.
Free-range typically means hens are raised in that same manner as hens raised cage-free, but they also have some access to the outdoors. There is no requirement regarding the amount of access or quality of the outdoor space provided though.
Hens raised in this manner have the same lives as those raised free-range with the added requirement of eating an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the USDA. Unlike cage-free and free-range, there is a third party making sure farmers adhere to these standards.
For a list of farms that raise animals in certified humane conditions check out Humane Farm Animal Care.