I know that some people have mentioned that "farm fresh" or "brown" eggs are too rich for them. They can be, if your not used to them! I highly suggest to our families that purchase eggs from us take it slowly if our pasture raised, free range eggs are new to their diets.
Buying local, pasture raised and free range eggs can come with all sorts of questions. I want to clear some of that up here. First, some definitions.
Pasture raised: The animals have access to outdoors year-round. Usually only going indoors over night to sleep and be safe from predators. Chickens are able to forage for bugs, worms, weeds, flowers, grasses... a natural chicken diet. They may also get some grain, sometimes organic, sometimes GMO free, but not always.
Free range: Kept in natural conditions, with freedom of movement. (However, the USDA definition is "producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside." This definition does not say how long or what kind of matter at all.)
Farm fresh: When I say this I mean, straight from my farm to your home. In the commercial industry, this term is not regulated and means nothing.
Cage free: This isn't too much better than being kept in a cage as most birds have about one square foot of space in a crowded barn and don't get much exercise, or get to move much at all.
Organic: To meet the USDA Organic label standard, the farmer must feed organic (no synthetic pesticides) and chickens must be cage-free and free range.
Vegetarian fed: Chickens are only fed a grain based diet. This chickens are obviously not pasture raised, as you cannot be vegetarian fed if you are eating bugs :)
What is the best quality you can buy for your family? Pasture raised, plus organic if possible. Non-GMO would be good too if you can't get organic. But pasture raised is the most nutritious you can serve on your family table.
So, how does the pasture raised chicken egg stack up compared to a commercial egg? According to this excerpt from Mother Earth News, there isn't much to compare... ;)
"RESULTS FROM OUR PREVIOUS STUDY: Eggs from hens allowed to peck on pasture are a heck of a lot better than those from chickens raised in cages! Most of the eggs currently sold in supermarkets are nutritionally inferior to eggs produced by hens raised on pasture. That’s the conclusion we have reached following completion of the 2007 Mother Earth News egg testing project. Our testing has found that, compared to official U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs, eggs from hens raised on pasture may contain:
• 1⁄3 less cholesterol• 1⁄4 less saturated fat• 2⁄3 more vitamin A• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids• 3 times more vitamin E• 7 times more beta carotene "
Now, why are most local eggs brown and most commercial brand eggs white? EASY, different breeds of chicken... that's it! We have a couple hens that lay a light blue/green egg :) Just because an egg has a brown shell, does not mean it is from a pasture raised hen.
Why are the yolks of pasture raised hens so much darker than commercial eggs? The darker the yolk is, the more nutrient dense that egg is going to be. It will also taste so so so so much better. This is why some people say they can't handle them. All those nutrients that you aren't used to, can make you feel like you have a "heavy" stomach. If this happened to you before and so you don't eat pasture raised chickens, I encourage you to give them another try. Take it slow. Maybe one egg at a time, or even a half of an egg :)