Eggsplaining Eggs

What all those labels mean, and just as importantly, what they don’t. Buyer beware!

John Egelkrout

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Photo by Tengyart on Unsplash

If you like eggs the way I do, you want to know what eggs you should be buying. Most people don’t give it much thought. Most shoppers grab the cheapest dozen in the store and never think twice. More conscientious consumers read the labels. They want something better for themselves and their families. The problem is that now there are so many different kinds of eggs with so many different labels. Some eggs are considerably more expensive than others, and consumers want to know what they are paying for. They want to know if the higher price is worth it, or if it is a ripoff. Here is the skinny on all those labels and the confusion they generate.

“Regular” eggs

The eggs that most people buy are what they consider “regular” eggs. Just plain old eggs. No confusing qualifiers that seem to cause the price to go up. They are just plain white eggs, usually in a styrofoam container. Whenever I hear people refer to the cheapest eggs in the store as “regular eggs,” I want to puke in my soup. Those cheap eggs are raised not on farms, but in large egg-producing facilities. The chickens are kept in small cages so that they never get fresh air or get to run around. The chickens are often sickly and are fed antibiotics just to keep them alive. They are fed chemically-treated GMO chicken feed and enough water to keep them producing. Why would people want to eat eggs produced this way? These eggs really should be labeled as Dirty Eggs. Or Inhumanely-grown eggs. These eggs are anything but “regular.”

Cage-free

People who don’t like the idea of those poor chickens being kept in small cages often opt for the “cage-free” eggs. The idea of “cage-free” conjures up images of happy chickens running around freely instead of being pent up. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Being “cage-free” simply means the chickens are crowded into buildings instead of being put in cages. In larger operations, hundreds, and sometimes thousands of chickens are thrown together in conditions so crowded they cannot move. If they can move, they are walking in their own feces.

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John Egelkrout

I am a sanity-curious former teacher who works a small organic farm with my wife. I write about politics, social issues, memoirs, and a variety of other topics.