Not all eggs are the same. The nutritional value and makeup of an egg is solely dependent upon what the chicken feeds on. Chickens are NOT vegetarians, they are omnivores.
“Naturally grown free-range chickens used to be favored, because they could eat anything they wanted, but now eggs laid by factory chickens, eating an industrial corn-and-soy diet, are from “vegetarian chickens,” because the marketers know the public will favor eggs that have the vegetarian mystique.” – Raymond Peat, PhD
The best quality eggs are from chickens that have sunlight and access to roam outside, eating bugs and pasture. A happy chicken is a healthy chicken, and a healthy chicken produces healthy eggs for us to eat. A good label to read on egg cartons is the phrase “Pasture Raised”. This usually ensures that the chicken is eating grass and bugs on the pasture. A great added bonus is to see that the farms are not feeding their chickens corn or soy. The farmers usually promote this on the egg cartons saying corn free and/or soy free.
“When you see “vegetarian fed” chicken products, the manufacturer is broadcasting their inferiority to pasture-raised eggs” – Rob Turner (Functional Performance Systems)
“One of the points I always try to convey when I host farm tours at Polyface Farm is that chickens are omnivores. Visitors have no problem with the fact that pastured poultry eat lots of green grass, herbs and clover, but cringe at the notion that these beautiful, healthy birds also supplement their diet with plenty of animal foods as well. In the green season, the birds eat lots of grasshoppers and fly larvae (out of the cow pies).
But what happens when the chickens go indoors for the winter, and insect life is all but nonexistent except for the occasional pill bug and spider in the deep bedding material? Traditionally this is when farm flocks were supplemented with vermin, cut open for easier access to the internal organs. Chickens gladly and voraciously tear at the flesh and guts of a freshly shot groundhog, opossum or raccoon. Chickens have a featherless face for a reason—it is easier to keep clean after indulging in flesh. We see the same physiology in wild avian scavengers like vultures.”
“Large-scale organic and free-range egg producers love to advertise the “vegetarian-fed” status of their birds. Certainly, a vegetarian-fed chicken does not have access to insects or it would lose the privilege of this label. We can also assume that no access to insects means no access to pasture, little to no access to the outdoors, or, worst of all, continuous confinement.
Unfortunately, the vegetarian feeding regimen of organic and free-range poultry induces a paler, weaker egg yolk than their omnivorous, beyond-organic counterparts. There is absolutely nothing natural about a vegetarian-fed chicken, and to be sure, the nutrient profile of eggs and meat from birds fed this way is going to be far inferior to birds with access to insects and meat scraps. Traditional farm flocks were often kept solely to consume the family’s kitchen waste— much of which was meat and scraps of fat.”
Why is it so important that the eggs we eat come from healthy pasture raised chickens?
“The omnivore’s fatty acid composition is reflected by their diet. Omnivorous poultry and pig fat tissue are more unsaturated relative to a pastured animal when fed the industrialized diet rich in unsaturated oils. Herbivores like cows, buffalo, goat, and lamb detoxify the unsaturated oils in the diet rather efficiently but do so best when fed a natural diet.” – Rob Turner (Functional Performance Systems)
The above quote means that a chicken’s diet influences the make up and quality of the eggs that the chicken lays.
How do we know for sure what the chicken is eating and how they are living?
Get to know where your food is coming from! The best way to know the quality of the eggs you are eating is to talk to the farmer whose eggs you are buying. Call the distributor of the eggs you buy from the store, talk to the store personnel, and read the packaging.