Don’t Be Influenced By Pretty-Looking Organic Egg Cartons

Don't Be Influenced By Pretty-Looking Organic Egg Cartons

Whether you’re new to organic or have been eating it for decades, here is a very likely scenario when you go to buy eggs. You stand in the refrigerated section of the market, look at all of options, check out the prices and make a decision largely based on the packaging of each brand. Some […]

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Whether you’re new to organic or have been eating it for decades, here is a very likely scenario when you go to buy eggs.

You stand in the refrigerated section of the market, look at all of options, check out the prices and make a decision largely based on the packaging of each brand.

Some have attractive pictures of rolling farmland, others show actual farmers, some have photos of the animals. Most certainly, the brands are using buzz words such as “cage-free”, “sunlit porches”, “omega 3-s” or “heritage breed”.

Are these brands being falsely deceptive?

I don’t believe so at all. They are trying to make the packaging as attractive as possible, and rightly so. I would do the exact same thing.

While brand recognition and price are key factors, what the packaging looks like and the emotional reaction that it has on you can heavily influence purchasing decisions.

As I have written about before, all organic eggs are NOT the same — all birds are fed differently and are treated differently — but people forget this and may get seduced by wholesome, folksy packaging.

So, I took a sampling of 8 different organic egg brands and pulled their ratings from the Cornucopia’s Organic Egg Scorecard to see how they stacked up versus the attractiveness of the packaging.

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

Here is what I found.

VITAL FARMS === 4-EGG RATING

 

OLIVER’S ORGANIC EGGS === 4-EGG RATING

 

ALDERFER EGGS === 3-EGG RATING

 

CAROL’S === 3-EGG RATING

 

PETE AND GERRY’S === 3-EGG RATING

 

THE COUNTRY HEN === 2-EGG RATING

 

ORGANIC VALLEY === 2-EGG RATING

 

WHOLE FOODS’ 365 === 1-EGG RATING

MY TAKE

Based on this small sampling, I have two key takeaways.

1) The eggs with the strongest brand recognition – Organic Valley and 365 (Whole Foods) – scored the worst.

2) Do not go to the supermarket and buy eggs based on what the packaging looks like and what the messaging says. Sometimes it will indicate high quality, but other times it will not. You just don’t know for sure.

For me, I am much more drawn to the packaging of The Country Hen (2-egg rating) and Carol’s (3-egg rating) than I am to the two top-scoring eggs, Vital Farms and Oliver’s Organic Eggs, both of which had 4-egg ratings.

While attractiveness is in the eye of the beholder, my best suggestion is to use the Organic Egg Scorecard by the Cornucopia Institute, one of the most respected watchdog organizations in the organic food industry. These people have spent thousands of hours investigating and researching how brands treat and feed the birds, so you can get an informed idea about the quality of eggs you are putting into your body. Most importantly, you will eliminate the guesswork when going to the supermarket.

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. Even though they are 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.

Just always remember, not all organic eggs are the same.

And more often than not, the packaging doesn’t tell the whole story, for better or for worse.

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10 Comments

  • Renee B says:

    Are there any vegan “eggs” you would recommend?

  • Kristin says:

    Better yet find a small farmer or a neighbor with chickens or ducks. Give them your money and support a good local farm where you’ll be able to visit. Even if their poultry aren’t sleeping on fancy silk beds I assure you it is better then ANY store bought out there. They may supplement their birds with grain but it is STILL better knowing where they came from and that they were loved and cared for. Just my opinion…but I am a small time duck farmer 🙂

  • Debbie says:

    I would be interested to see the rating on Costco Organic and Pastured eggs. I think the price is 24 eggs for $7.99

    • David says:

      Debbie – I believe that there’s an “expose” video available on YouTube about Costco’s egg program. I did not research the source behind the video, but you might find it informative. I’ll apologize in advance here if the intent of the video proves to be insincere and NOT ethically-intentioned.

  • Carder says:

    I always go with Vital Farms! I like their overall corporate and personal philosophies along with their care and treatment of their hens. And, best of all, their eggs taste GREAT!

  • Geoffrey Levens says:

    My approach is to see what is available, generally always same brands, then contact the directly and find out exactly what they are feeding the birds and how much outdoor space each one has available at all times. Based on that I shop accordingly from then on.

  • Anna says:

    Cornucopia’s Organic Eggs Scorecard is a great resource but not very usable in the format they publish. Most people need this list on their phones for quick access when shopping in-store. An app would be far more useful.

    • Kathie says:

      I saved it on my iPhone by putting it on my home page. Apple gives you an option to do that. So it’s just like having an app. Not sure android phones have that option.

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