Are Your Organic Eggs from a Factory Farm?

Are Your Organic Eggs from a Factory Farm?

Alisa Opar
Published: 10/20/2010

 
Here are the 10 top-scoring brands:
1. Coon Creek, Mondovi, WI
2. Kingbird Farm, Berkshire, NY
3. Krause Farm, Engandine, MI
4. Cleary Family Farm, Plainfield, VT
5. Common Good Farm, Raymond, NE
6. Highfields Farm, VT
7. Misty Meadows Farm, Everson, WA
8. Old Friends Farm, Amherst, MA
9. One Drop Farm, Cornville, ME
10. Trout Lake Abbey, Trout Lake, WA
 
All of this discussion about the realities of organic egg production got me wondering about the various labels on my egg carton. Here are definitions of some of the most common, courtesy of the Humane Society
 
Certified Organic: The birds are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, and are required to have outdoor access, but the amount, duration, and quality of outdoor access is undefined. They are fed an organic, all-vegetarian diet free of antibiotics and pesticides, as required by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. Compliance is verified through third-party auditing.
 
Free-Range: While the USDA has defined the meaning of "free-range" for some poultry products, there are no standards in "free-range" egg production. Typically, free-range hens are uncaged inside barns or warehouses and have some degree of outdoor access, but there are no requirements for the amount, duration or quality of outdoor access. Since they are not caged, they can engage in many natural behaviors such as nesting and foraging. There are no restrictions regarding what the birds can be fed. Beak cutting and forced molting through starvation are permitted. There is no third-party auditing.
 
Cage-Free: As the term implies, hens laying eggs labeled as “cage-free” are uncaged inside barns or warehouses, but they generally do not have access to the outdoors. They can engage in many of their natural behaviors such as walking, nesting and spreading their wings. Beak cutting is permitted. There is no third-party auditing.
 
Free-Roaming: Also known as "free-range," the USDA has defined this claim for some poultry products, but there are no standards in "free-roaming" egg production. This essentially means the hens are cage-free. There is no third-party auditing.
 
Fertile: These eggs were laid by hens that lived with roosters, meaning they most likely were not caged.

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