Shopping for eggs used to be a simple thing. You had very little choice, but with consumer awareness comes a lot of options that most people don’t understand. You are left asking, “What do all those labels mean?” When, we, as consumers, think organic, we picture chickens roaming a picturesque field pecking bugs and enjoying the good life.
The USDA has a completely different idea. The USDA standards say that the animals that are fed no antibiotics, growth hormones, or animal byproducts are organic egg producers. Synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, bioengineering, and ionizing radiation are also prohibited. However, the USDA does not verify organic products! Factory farmers go through a certification “process” and more or less are trusted to do the right thing. And there is nothing in the standards that says these animals need to be treated well.
What’s more, if a bird is sick they can be administered medicines and their eggs can still be labeled organic. However, chickens aren’t usually worth the cost of the medications and usually go untreated.
There are about 14 other labels you may see on your store-bought labels, that are confusing and nondescript. Here is a chart that shows what you are buying.
The bottom line is if you want the eggs you picture when you think organic, there is but one solution. Buy locally, from a farmers market or from a local farmer or friend that has chickens.
If you factor in the cost of feed it costs me $1.40 to produce a dozen eggs, I charge $2 a dozen. I and most people who have chickens are not trying to get rich(The only ones trying to get rich off your egg consumption are the factory farmers), we just don’t want our eggs going to waste and often our chickens produce more than we can eat.