Egg cartons these days look like advertisements for spa retreats: free range, all natural, grass-fed, etc. And just like an ad, it’s meant to SELL you on the product, and doesn’t always deliver.
Hilary took me the through the explanation of what everything ACTUALLY means, and I was shocked at what I found out!
Brown v. White Color
The egg is actually the same. They bleach the eggs white because they look more appetizing that way!
Hens are not in a “cage” but are still crammed together in a barn or warehouse with no access to the outdoors. It’s basically just as bad as being in a cage.
Can be interchanged with Cage-Free. Stocking density may still be high and forced molting through starvation is allowed. They can also be debeaked!
The barn or enclosed area is open air and has access to the outdoors. However, the door to get there is made to be unattractive (or be barred) so they elect to stay inside. The quality of the outdoor area is also not regulated. The issues in Cage-Free and Free-Roaming may still be present if they pack too many bird into the barn.
Grass-Fed/ 100% Grass Fed/ Pasture-Raised
Technically the animal (hens, cows, etc) must only be fed grass the last 120 days of its life. Otherwise they can be fed anything. For eggs, you can assume the hens were raised in fenced-pastures with open-sided shelters so they have a better life (living like normal chickens) than in the above terms.
Hormone and Antibiotic Free
The animal has not been injected with any hormones.
MEANS NOTHING! The term is totally unregulated by the FDA. This is a marketing tactic by companies who have no other claim to make!
First of all, organic does does not mean “healthy” for any product (organic cookies are still cookies!). It actually only means the 70% of the ingredients are organic. The USDA does not view chickens the same way they do other animals so even if the eggs are “organic” they can still be raised in constant confinement, being staved and debeaked.
That being said, Hilary advises that we buy organic eggs because it means what the hens are fed is organic.