The Organic Egg Scorecard

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This winter, I bought two dozen eggs.  I’m generally content to just do without as my hens go through their winter moult, but there were a couple of times when I just needed eggs for something or other, so off I went to try to pick up something that would vaguely resemble the eggs my girls produce.

It’s not easy, really.  Most of the organic eggs at my grocery store seem to be produced on large, factory farms.  It takes a lot of carton-reading to find a batch from a farm that actually lets their hens go outside.  The carton that I finally chose actually had something on the label like, “Free range.  Pastured.  All day.  Every day.  Seriously.  We just let our hens go outside and wander around.  No joke.”

The eggs were surprisingly expensive–seven bucks for a dozen, maybe?–but I was willing to pay it.  I mean, it still worked out to less than a buck an egg, and an egg and a piece of toast qualifies as a meal around here.  So the money’s no problem–it’s just a matter of finding real eggs from real hens to get to really spend their days in the real outdoors.

Here’s one solution–the Cornucopia Institute has published an organic egg scorecard.  Sure enough, the eggs I’d suspected of being organic-but-probably-industrial actually are.  So go check that out, and watch their video, too:



Posted by

Garden Rant
on January 18, 2012 at 4:55 am, in the category Eat This.

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  • I found this very dismaying, to say the least. All the organic egg producers I have seen in stores here are on the bottom of that list. Now I feel like the only place I can buy organic eggs that actually treat their chickens properly is at the local farmer’s market- which isn’t open year-round.

    Jeane 25th June 2016 11:49 am
  • I also allow my chickens their winter rest, though I actually had a biological clock expert I was interviewing yell at me, “Dim light on chickens! Greatest agricultural invention EVER.”

    Michele Owens 2nd January 2017 1:13 pm
  • I’m very lucky in that there’s a local co-op which offers free-range local eggs—although it’s literally potluck, since they buy from VERY local backyard egg producers. Recycled egg cartons, mix of sizes and shell colors…it’s about as low-tech as you can get. Very handy when it’s not farmer’s market season, though, and I’ve yet to get an egg that wasn’t tasty!

    UrsulaV 30th May 2017 1:24 am
  • My girls quit laying pretty early on last year and we had to buy store bought a few times as well. I am always skeptical about labels, particularly those claiming to be organic. We are really fortunate to have our own source. Thanks for sharing the video and Cornucopia link.

    Roberta 16th June 2017 8:52 am
  • Yeah, it’s funny how “organic” doesn’t actually mean that the animals have better living standards than non-organic chickens.

    Daedre 28th June 2017 10:51 pm
  • Free range means a lot of things to a lot of people. I’ve been told the pens my chickens are in when not out in the yard would be considered free ranging by some. On the other hand, I’ve heard (on chicken forums)that free range means uncooped 24/7 with no supplemental feed, only what they can forage.

    Deirdre 3rd July 2017 4:45 am
  • I long for the days when my Grandma ( and later my Mom) had her own backyard flock of “Dominickers”, running around loose occasionally, eating bugs & weeds & what-not. Best eggs ever. The best I can find these days is a pale shadow – in every possible way – to those.

    Laura Bell 5th July 2017 9:07 am
  • Thank you for reminding us the the Farmers’ Markets are still our best bet.

    allan becker 6th July 2017 12:11 am
  • I have found that the next best thing to farmers markets for finding organic eggs is to connect with people around my area that may have several to a few dozen hens. Here in Portland we can have up to 3 hens so it isn’t too hard to find someone with eggs to purchase.

    Galen 6th July 2017 9:27 am
  • I’ve been thinking for some time now about setting up a chicken coup and having a few hens of my own. I’ve been doing some research on this and have almost decided I can sure add to the egg business some quality eggs. I am so tired of these eggs that have all this added stuff. I want the old fashion deep yellow yolk in my egg 🙂

    Gardening Rain 6th July 2017 9:58 am
  • I have plebian taste buds when it comes to eggs. Organic or factory. They all seem to taste the same. Maybe if I did a taste test of two over-easy-egss one organic and one not I could tell the difference.

    tibs 6th July 2017 11:09 am
  • @ tibs – if you had an egg from a truly homegrown, free-range, foraging chicken, you’d see and taste the difference. For one, they actually have a flavor. My husband thought eggs were merely vehicles for things like cheese or veggies or salsa until he had one from my Mom’s hens, over-easy. It’s so hard to find anything similar now and he gets a little wistful thinking about it.

    Laura Bell 6th July 2017 12:06 pm
  • Is there an app that people can use to scan the barcode of a product like organic eggs and find out if that manufacturer ethically produces that food item? If not, it’s desperately needed. I looked over that list, but it would be hard for me to remember to good brands versus the bad ones when I am actually in the store.

    admin 6th July 2017 12:44 pm
  • You’ve really helped me undesratnd the issues. Thanks.

    Delores 6th July 2017 1:12 pm

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