If you find that adding animal products benefits your health, then it is of utmost importance to choose the cleanest and most sustainable forms available. The labeling of these products can be deceiving and it is important to understand how to read them so you can remain in good health. Finding sources of the highest-quality meat, poultry, and eggs just takes a willingness to search a little and talk with your local farmers.
The more demand for humanely treated and sustainably raised meat, the more farmers will produce it. Eggs Eggs in the grocery store come with all sorts of different labels that can be confusing, such as pastured, cage-free, vegetarian-fed, organic, and free-range. But what do these mean? Basically, unless a label says pastured and organic, the chickens could be fed GMO grains, have their beaks clipped, and be packed tightly in large barns.
The conventional eggs you buy from the grocery store generally come from chickens with clipped beaks kept in horrific conditions, packed by the tens of thousands in large poultry barns. These eggs should be avoided at all times—remember if you are eating out or eating baked goods made with eggs, this is usually the variety being used unless stated otherwise.
The label “vegetarian-fed” only means that the chickens were not fed any animal byproducts in their feed, but they are still usually fed GMO grains. The label “cage-free” only means that the chickens were not kept in small wire cages but instead packed in open poultry barns, which can be just as horrific; and they are still fed nonorganic feed as well as possible antibiotics. The “organic” label means the chickens were fed organic, GMO-free grains and had access to the outdoors.
“Pastured” eggs mean the chickens were raised on open land (usually surrounded by large wire cages to protect them from predators) and allowed to eat their natural diet of bugs and grasses. Sometimes they are still fed a small amount of grains in the winter. It is up to the farmer to determine the type and quality of the feed since there is no certification at this time for “pastured.” We suggest you purchase only local, organic, pastured eggs, or raise your own egg-laying chickens.