You may have heard the saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Well this statement could be true in your daily life, but when it comes to eggs, fill that basket up with only one type from now on—organic!
Eggs are known as a great source of high-quality protein, but when you are shopping for eggs should you be looking for organic free-range eggs or factory-farmed conventional eggs?
The answer to me is simple: You should always be choosing organic and pasture-raised eggs over any other type. However, you have likely noticed that there is a considerable price difference. Is organic worth the cost?
The average cost of hen eggs in general depends on availability. If you live in a small rural town, it might be less than in a busy urban area. In some locations in the United States, you can find a dozen factory eggs for $1.69, while cage-free range from $2.99 to $3.59. Organic eggs will be higher, ranging from $3.99 to $5.38. As you can see, it might be the easier option to go cheap. But that line of thinking won’t deliver the nutrients you deserve, without any nasty extras lurking inside the shell! There are reasons you need to be forking over the extra money. Here are five benefits to buying organic:
1. Opt for Higher Quality Nutrition
According to nutrient data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, free-range eggs generally contain a third less cholesterol, a quarter less saturated fat, two times the omega-3 fatty acids, two-thirds more vitamin A and seven times more beta carotene. The increased nutrients for organic eggs may be because of the different diets the hens are given. Regardless, this kind of high-quality nutrition just hasn’t been seen in the standard egg.
2. Organic Hens Get Better Food
Pasture-raised hens will eat a grass-fed diet with the options of grains as well; however, any crop the hens consume must avoid genetically modified organisms. The feed that organic chickens eat must be certified organic as well, which means they can’t consume pesticides or artificial fertilizers. Organic laying hens are fed organic products, right from the start.
3. No Salmonella Risk (Now That’s Reason Enough!)
There is a greater likelihood that conventional eggs are exposed to salmonella, which is a bacteria well known to cause disease. Some farms are considered unsanitary, whereas organic farms are clean. You should cook your eggs thoroughly to reduce the risk of salmonella, according to public health organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If the eggs are free-range and organic, they are actually considered safe when eaten raw. The way I see it, eating raw eggs is generally better for your health. In one study conducted by the British government, 23% of farms with conventionally caged hens received positive tests for salmonella, whereas free-range flocks were ranked at a 6.5% salmonella rate and 4% of organic hens tested positive.
4. Harsh Animal Treatments
Organic eggs from hens typically are not treated with antibiotics, steroids or growth hormones. Organic chickens in general may receive certain vaccinations to prevent common diseases only. The National Organic Standards Board has approved that hens receive mineral and vitamin supplements; however, they do not encourage amounts that will lead to unnatural growth. The general treatment of the animals also tends to be much better in an organic environment, too.
5. Ability to Roam Free
It is a good idea that your eggs are organic and pasture-raised; organic doesn’t always mean the chickens had a free-roaming lifestyle. Factory-raised hens are kept in very overcrowded conditions and may not see the light of day, whereas pasture-raised hens are free to roam the yard. In the U.S., there are approximately 245 egg companies with 75,000 or more hens. In fact, 12 of those businesses have over five million hens. Corporate farming! It is difficult to maintain the health of each hen when there are so many. Consider buying your eggs from local farms, which gives you a bird’s eye view of how the animals are being treated for yourself.
Conventional eggs can be found in nearly every grocery store; however, where do you find organic eggs? Natural health food stores tend to keep organic and pasture-raised eggs in full stock. High-quality organic eggs can also be purchased at farmers’ markets or at the organic farm.
My advice?Always purchase organic and free-range eggs to ensure you’re cracking into all of the benefits they have to offer!
“Are Organic Eggs Safer?” Mercola web site, September 14, 2010; http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/09/14/are-organic-eggs-safer.aspx.