The six types of eggs you’re eating, and how they’re produced

An egg is an egg is an egg — or is it? We crack the code on what the labels on egg cartons really mean.

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Photo by Istockphoto

Photo by Istockphoto

We love eggs! They’re our fallback for delicious weeknight meals and can’t be beat when it comes to whipping up light and airy treats or rich and decadent desserts. But with the many varieties available on the market, it can be challenging to understand what all those labels mean. So here’s a simple guide to crack the code of our favorite kitchen staple.

Omega-3
The only difference between regular eggs and omega-3 eggs is that the hens are fed with omega-3 fatty acid sources, such as flax seed. They are confined to cages, unless otherwise stated, and do not have access to litter, perches or nests.

Nest-laid
Nest-laid may seem promising, but this only means hens have access to a nest or perch within the confines of their cage.

Cage-free
Cage-free hens are not confined to a cage, however, that does not mean they have access to the outdoors, or that there are any requirements for how much space they have or for what feed or medicines they may be receiving.

Free-run
Free-run hens are able to roam in open-range barns, but do not have access to the outdoors and may not have access to natural light. However, they are usually provided access to nests, perches and litter.

Free-range
Free-range hens are able to roam in open-range barns and are given access to the outdoors (and natural light), when weather permits. They are also usually provided access to nests, perches and litter.

Organic
Organic is the only label with a legal definition and a third-party auditor to ensure organic regulations are being followed. Organic hens meet Canadian health and welfare standards with open-range barns, natural light indoors, free-access to pasture outdoors and always have access to nests, perches and litter. They are also fed 100% organic feed and are always provided with clean, fresh water. To be certified organic can be extremely costly, so there may be farmers in your area who produce eggs in a similar manner without the certification.

If you want peace of mind in terms of how your eggs were produced, hit up a local farmer’s market and talk to the farmers who raise hens in your community. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and support those whose values are in line with your own.

 

2 comments on “The six types of eggs you’re eating, and how they’re produced

  1. Is this being published in an upcoming issue? This is great information that I think a lot of people should know – “free-run/range” doesn’t always mean cruelty-free!

    Reply

  2. You neglected to mention the ubiquitous standard “large size eggs” that most of us have been buying for our whole lives. Those ones work for me just fine!

    Reply

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