An egg from any chicken isn’t necessarily the same, nutrition-wise. The healthiest type of egg comes from free range chickens. Free range eggs come from hens allowed to forage for natural foods on their own. The chickens are allowed to roam freely for food instead of being kept inside a cage or within a concrete slab. Eggs that come from free range chickens are about a third lower in cholesterol than commercially raised eggs and also provide a much more favorable complement of essential fatty acids. Additionally, the mineral content of free range eggs is higher and the probability of the egg harboring unwanted toxins is much lower. All in all, free range eggs are healthier for both us and the chickens that produced them.
The best bet for finding healthy eggs is to buy from local farmers, preferably from those who have a reputation of allowing their chickens to roam freely for food, supplementing their diet with processed foods very minimally. I was somewhat taken aback the first time I opened a box of truly “free range” eggs. Having been accustomed to the commercial variety—uniformly bright white, evenly sized and shaped eggs—anything else seemed a bit odd. But inside my box of free range eggs I found a wonderful assortment of sizes, ranging from very small to large enough to have wonders about the capabilities of the hen to have produced it. Shell pigmentation varied from light gray to mottled brown. Even the yolks were different; when cracked into a frying pan, the yolks varied in color but were all much more intensely orange than the commercially-produced equivalent.
If you are unable to buy your eggs free range, a “second-best” option is to buy commercial eggs that come from chickens fed with organic feed that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These eggs can be found in most grocery stores.
How about Cage Free eggs?
Do not make the mistake of buying eggs that are simply labeled “cage free.” The “cage free” label only implies that the chickens are allowed to stay outside of cages. Generally, it means that they live on a concrete floor and eat the same foods fed to other commercially-raised poultry. The bottom line: if it’s not scratching in the yard for worms, than it’s not a true free range chicken!