Organic, free range, barn laid and conventional – where to find a good egg


How many times have you stood in the supermarket, staring at the shelf full of eggs, trying to work out which brand is best?

Eggs are naturally full of nutritional goodness and are a great source of protein, good fats and B vitamins. But, like most things, not all eggs are equal and you get what you pay for.

There are so many varieties of eggs available – caged, free range, barn laid, heart smart, organic, omega-3 enriched. The two most important considerations to make when choosing a good egg are the nutritional and health value of the eggs and the ethics of how the hens have been raised.

Not all they’re cracked up to be:

Most people are now aware of the factory farming methods that are often used to mass-produce eggs and are proactive about selecting eggs sourced from an ethical environment. This might mean that you opt for free range, barn laid or cage-free egg options over caged. However, these terms are not regulated in Australia and therefore hide a lot of truth about the hen’s conditions.

Although free-range eggs are better than caged eggs based on Australian standards under the Australian Egg Corporation, the farms are still overcrowded and chickens often de-beaked, meaning they are unable to groom and peck the ground. As a result, the chickens often haven’t fed on fresh food or grass, so you lose much of the nutritional value that a good egg provides.

So while you might be feeling good about purchasing free range eggs over conventional caged eggs, the lack of transparency about the environment and any hormones used to raise the chickens might be leading you astray. In fact, many commercial suppliers use the watered down regulations set by the Australian Egg Corporation to do the minimum to label their eggs free range and therefore keep up with the growing demand.

Another choice that has become common for the ‘conscious’ shopper are RSPCA-approved barn laid eggs. These hens are not de-beaked and have a greater space per chook (9 birds per m2), however, the hens are still unable to forage, scratch and peck like they can in a free range system.

Egg-cellent options:

If you’re shopping for eggs, you get what you pay for. Certified organic (pasture-raised where possible) eggs brought straight from the farmer him/herself are your best option as the hens are free range, free from hormones and antibiotics, have access to pasture and are fed certified organic feed. They also offer more of the vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids that your body needs. A great way to find these is by speaking direct with the farmers at your local farmers market.

Alternatively, another great option for your family (if you have the backyard space) is to keep chooks yourself. There’s plenty of information out there about keeping your own chooks and backyard chook pens, and you simply can’t go past having fresh eggs on-hand each week. Your friends and family will also love any extras that you share.

If you want more information or would like to book an appointment, please call us during business hours on (02) 4961 4075. We offer a free 15min chat with a Naturopath who can answer any questions you may have.

Peter Mullen


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