About organic eggs & the Organic Egg Scorecard (rating the brands)
People who buy organic eggs do indeed get a lot more for the extra money they pay. 2 recent studies (1 by PennState University and 1 by Mother Earth News) found that hens raised on pasture (grass) rather than commercial feed, produced healthier eggs ~ pastured eggs contained at least double the vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids compared to conventional eggs. Mother Earth News also found the pastured eggs contained less cholesterol and saturated fat and more vitamin A than conventional eggs.
HOWEVER, not all organic eggs are created equally. A very thorough report by Jill Richardson titled: Are Organic Eggs Really Healthier and Tastier and From Happier Chickens Than Conventional Eggs? reveals that as much as 80 percent of all organic eggs come from industrial-scale egg producers who provide their birds with token access to the outdoors or no access at all. The remaining 20 percent of eggs coming from family-scale farms range from token or no access to the outdoors to adequate or ideal scenarios where all of the hens are able to go outside.
Although all organic eggs are raised cage-free (rather than in horrific battry cages), not all are given the truly healthy benefits of outside access or pasture.
A new report by the Cornucopia Institute exposes the truth behind the organic egg industry by rating companies that market name-brand and private-label organic “shell” eggs on 22 criteria. As their report explains:
With this Web-based rating tool, you can see which brands of eggs found in your region are produced using the best organic farming practices and ethics. Based on more than a year’s research into the organic egg business, the scorecard rates almost 70 different name-brand eggs and additional private-label products.
Both the report and scorecard highlight the good news in the organic egg industry by showcasing the true heroes, including national and local producers that are supplying ethically-produced organic eggs and are worthy of consumer support.
I was happy to see Organic Valley got a 3 (out of 5), and surprised to learn that Trader Joe's, Kirkland (Costco), 365 Organic (Wholefoods), O Organic (Safeway) all received a very poor 1 (out of 5 rating.)
Check out the scorecard to see which organic eggs are really worth the extra dollars they are charging in your local market. But remember ~ at least these companies are not raising their chickens in battery cages!