If you walk into the supermarket and are confused about which organic eggs to buy, it is important to understand a few things.
First, not all organic eggs are the same. In fact, there are massive differences in organic eggs, particularly in regards to how the birds were raised.
Second, don’t select a carton of organic eggs simply because it has the nicest, most attractive packaging. That doesn’t tell the whole story.
Lastly and most importantly, the Cornucopia Institute, one of the organic industry’s most important non-profits, has just put out an updated version of its Organic Egg Scorecard, and this should be a must-use reference guide when shopping for organic eggs.
The Organic Egg Scorecard is part of Cornucopia’s incredibly important report called Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture.
In this report, Cornucopia highlights the disturbing conditions under which industrial organic egg producers are operating. While substituting conventional for organic feed and not using synthetic inputs, such as pesticides or antibiotics, some of these large-scale operators provide incredibly cramped, double-story conditions, limited access points to the outdoors, and covered concrete porches instead of adequate space on grass fields.
(Cornucopia’s aerial investigation of industrial-scale organic producers, such as Herbruck’s Poultry, pictured above, revealed that many confine their laying hens rather than provide outdoor access, as required by organic regulations. This operation, likely the largest “organic” egg farm in the country, is located near Saranac, Michigan.)
On the other hand, many small organic family farms go well beyond what the USDA requires and provides ample indoor space and outdoor pasture, allowing the birds to exhibit their natural behaviors, such as foraging, scratching, and flapping their wings.
The Organic Egg Scorecard classifies each brand into one of five categories:
“5-Egg” Rating: “Exemplary” – Beyond organic
“4-Egg” Rating: “Excellent” – Organic promoting outdoor access
“3-Egg” Rating: “Good to Very Good” – Organic, complying with minimum USDA standards
“2-Egg” Rating: “Fair” – Some questions remain concerning compliance with organic standards
“1-Egg” Rating: “Industrial Organics – No meaningful outdoor access and/or non-transparent”
Fortunately, concerned organic consumers are lucky enough to have amazing organizations such as Cornucopia, which has done extensive homework as to the farming practices of each organic egg brand.
Due to Cornucopia’s exhaustive research, shoppers can now make more educated egg purchases in the supermarket. This not only provides our families with healthier organic eggs, but it also allows us to support organic egg farmers who are doing things the right way.