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How to Find the Healthiest Eggs for Your Family

For the healthiest eggs, choose pasture-raised if possible.

My family just loves eggs. Sunny-side up, poached, deviled, and a favorite,  scrambled eggs. You name it. We can’t seem to get enough eggs around here. We aim for the healthiest eggs we can get our hands on.

However, we didn’t always understand that not all eggs were created equal.  It took time to get to where we are now – buying local, free range, organic eggs. At this point, you might be wondering how two eggs could possibly be different.  After all, they sure look the same when all lined up in their carton at the grocery store.

Consequently, how is anyone supposed to find the healthiest eggs?

Buy the Best Eggs You Can Afford

Egg quality can vary greatly depending on the lifestyle of the hen. Hens might have a carefree life in the pasture with full access to a variety of forage or live in an overcrowded hen house with little fresh air. Despite the fanfare about pastured eggs being the healthiest, they just might not be the best egg for your family if you can’t afford them or get access to fresh local eggs.

Some would say buy the most expensive eggs you can find, but I don’t believe that’s the best answer for everyone. Understanding what contributes to a highly nutritious egg and weighing your family’s other needs (budget, access, etc.) will mean a different answer for many.

What Kind of Eggs Should I Buy?

Eggs in a Row: Best to Worst Healthy Egg Choices

  1. Of course first place goes to a pastured chicken egg fed organic feed without soy. This means the chicken eats proper protein (grubs, etc), gets exercise and sunlight (for vitamin D) and roams freely outside to forage. Added bonus points to farmers who have roosters; fertilized eggs are healthier too. Super duper first place to chickens who get to follow cows around their pastures. Cow plops provide great grubs!
  2. Next best would be any local chickens who get to live for real outside, fed standard chicken feed, no antibiotics if possible.
  3. No farmers? At the store, it would be nice if you could get organic eggs — whatever the chickens are eating was grown without pesticides or synthetic fertilizers. They also receive no antibiotics or hormones. However, their living conditions may be less than ideal.
  4. Free range and omega 3 would be ideal, but usually not available together. So free range lands spot #4. These chickens aren’t completely confined in cages. They must be allowed “access” to the outdoors, but that may just be one small door and small yard for thousands of chickens.
  5. Omega-3 eggs such as Eggland’s Best come from chickens who are supplemented with flax seeds which increases the DHA and omega-3s in their eggs. You’ll have to weigh for yourself if the added nutrition of omega-3 eggs is more important than avoiding the chemicals that the organic eggs will afford you. I would say they’re a step up from store brand eggs, for sure.
  6. Can’t spend $4 on eggs? I understand. Much better to buy plain old white eggs for 98 cents a dozen and eat them (with a prayer) than to avoid eggs. The nutrition in eggs still can’t be beat.

How to Find Pastured Eggs

If you’ve decided on going with choice # 1, hurrah for you! To find pastured eggs in your area, one resource is Eat Wild. There are usually many more options than you’ll find on this website though. The best practice is to simply ask around: at health food stores, like-minded people you know, farmer’s markets, etc.

Pastured or Commercial Storebought Eggs?

Obviously buying eggs from a store vs. directly from a farmer is a huge leap. Even though there are alarmingly many choices at your supermarket, you still may not be able to get the best eggs without striking out and finding a local farm. The following research results are pretty striking:

Most Store Bought Eggs Are Nutritionally Inferior

According to a Mother Earth testing project, 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
  • 4-6 times more vitamin

It’s About Baby Steps

Taking steps towards a healthier egg is the start of the journey. To that end, here’s a little leveled list for you; my best shot at all the ways a family could interact with eggs. To find the best and healthiest eggs for your family, Take a step (or two) forward on the list, depending on what your family normally eats.

  1. We don’t eat eggs.
  2. We eat egg whites only.
  3. We eat white, standard store eggs.
  4. We buy __________ eggs from the grocery store (insert “organic” or “free range” or “omega-3 enhanced” in the blank).
  5. We buy eggs from a local farmer, but I don’t really know much about the way the chickens are raised.
  6. We buy free range, local, organic eggs that have been fertilized after the chickens followed the cows through the pasture.
  7. We raise our own chickens and collect eggs everyday!

Upgrade your Eggs

In our house, we moved from eating white store bought eggs to buying the best eggs we could get locally, and finally now to buying free-range, organic, local eggs. I can truly see the difference in the color of the yolks of our eggs compared to white store eggs. The bright orange color denotes extra nutrients in there, so you can tell these are the best eggs!

eggs on asparagus veggies for breakfast ideas

The Healthiest Eggs?… The Ones You Eat!

If you are at number 1, challenge yourself to incorporate eggs into your meal planning a few times a week. There are great recipes out there for any type of meal. For example, you can:

  • Make custards and quiches the star of breakfast! This amazing custard recipe will make even the most stalwart egg hater enjoy eating eggs.
  • Make a batch of hard boiled eggs for snacks throughout the week.
  • Serve breakfast for dinner (a classic Wednesday night menu at our house) with omelettes, toast, and fruit salad.

If you happen to be at number 3, consider upgrading to the healthiest eggs that you can afford. Also, don’t forget, discount stores often have great sales on organic and omega 3 eggs and wholesale clubs can sometimes offer the best prices around.

Fresh eggs and vegetables make a great meal choice.

Eat Your Eggs

Finally, if you’re wondering why we should even bother eating eggs, check out this Food for Thought: The Awesome Egg.  Eggs contain roughly 6g of protein and all 9 essential amino acids.  What does this mean for you and your family?

Eating the healthiest eggs (and I mean any egg from store bought to pastured) is a step in the right direction. 

So what are you waiting for? Upgrade your eggs, and find the healthiest eggs for your family.

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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40 thoughts on “How to Find the Healthiest Eggs for Your Family”

  1. Brandis @ Crunchy Thrify Cool

    I don’t know if you want to include this in this post or the deciphering egg carton post, BUT I think this information from the Cornucopia report is SUPER helpful in choosing better eggs- some organic and “free range” eggs aren’t what they appear! I’m at #7, though, and have my own chickens who lay 7-9 eggs a day (so we eat a LOT of them!), but before we had eggs we were fortunate to live near a farm that scored in the top tier of that report and is a TRUE free range organic farm.

  2. We found a high school girl in our homeschool group that has a flock of hens for a hobby. While she didn’t feed organic chicken food, they are out on pasture most of the day. But now, my sweet hubby built me a chicken coop and our girls asked for baby chicks for thier birthdays. We should have our own eggs come September. They are so fun to watch! And we have horsed that they will follow around. I’ve heard that it’s just as good as cows.

    Do you know anything about feeding fish meal as a protien source? The organic feed I found uses it instead of soy for the protien. Any thoughts you found during your research would be helpful. Thanks! And you can see pictures of our coop on my blog.
    .-= christina´s last blog ..Chicken Coop Condo =-.

    1. I found a layer/grower mix at my feed store made with locally grown barley and salmon meal… no SOY!! The feed store also carries eggs laid by hens on this feed and they are very nice. Our chickens love it and are healthy and happy and there is NO fishy taste in their eggs.
      As an aside: we also get a pelletized dog food made with the same salmon/barley combo. The dogs are thriving too, especially our Cairn terrier who apparently had a wheat sensitivity. He used to throw up rather regularly and we never quite understood why but when we switched to this new feed his sensitive tummy cleared right up. It costs more per bag but they eat less so it really is no more expensive than the Kirkland brand we were feeding previously.

    2. Christina,
      Yes, fishmeal should be awesome! I know I’ve heard about that before, adds omega-3s! Way to go on the chickens!!! 🙂 Katie

  3. I am at #6 and jealous of all of you who have your own chickens! Any improvement you can make is worth it. A real pastured egg should have a ratio of 1 to 1.2 of Omega 3 to Omega 6 essential fatty acids. Regular agribusiness eggs have a ratio of 1:26 ! If you eat 2 eggs for breakfast, you start you day having a difficult time catching up on Omega 3s! To say nothing of taste. Organic is a loaded term these days as agribusiness has stepped up and created their own Organic foods that are NOT what you actually had in mind when you thought Organic. In many cases it is better to eat locally(regionally) from conscientious farmers who are not organic than eat agribusiness organic. (They often cannot affford the expensive certification even though they are very careful)These eggs ARE Pricier. It is a case of PRICE vs. COST. What is the actual cost in terms of your health, your health spending, your nutrition and energy levels, your immunity etc. The price is higher up front, much lower COST in the long run.

  4. We just upgraded to #6! I finally found a local farm that will sell me eggs at a price cheaper than the “organic” eggs at the grocery store. They are gorgeous, and super tasty. I never want to go back.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..Pastured Eggs. You Can Really See the Difference. =-.

  5. Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green

    I have egg sensitives so I can’t eat them but can use them in baking and such. The eggs in our frig right now our from my mom’s chickens. 🙂
    .-= Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green´s last blog ..Update on Anna =-.

  6. We are at # 7: raising our own, and even THEY are eating locally! I found a feed made here (in Alaska) of salmon and barley, which they love and it leaves no fishy taste in the eggs. We have moved to a new home and the chickens are still unable to go out and free-range just yet (dog issues) but when we get them a fenced-in area where they will be safe they will be able to forage to their hearts content. They get all our kitchen scraps (o.k., they have to share some of the produce with the guinea pig) including soured milk and egg shells. The only thing I send from the kitchen to the compost pile is citrus, avocado and banana peels, onion and garlic skins, coffee and tea grounds, tough stems and rotted or moldy food. There is NO going back to store-bought eggs, the difference is like night and day, plus I know my eggs are pristine and have no qualms about including raw yolks in smoothies and home-made ice cream. We have an assortment of breeds who all lay varying shades of brown eggs. We have had Auracanas, which laid blue or green eggs but a fox stole them (the chickens, not the eggs)!
    Note: Almost anyone can have hens, even if you live in the city. Check your ordinances and unless you live in a newer subdivision with covenants against keeping them you too can probably raise your own. I am completely smitten with keeping chickens… you may be too if you give it a try!

  7. We are at 5 and a half. 🙂 We buy from the local farmer’s market pastured eggs, that I am pretty sure follow his cows around, but I don’t know if they are fertilized of not. Thanks to you Katie we’ve started eating all kinds of things I wouldn’t have gone out of my way to find before, like raw milk, in the last eight months or so.

  8. jana @ the summer house

    I just found a family -close by-willing to sell me eggs-I’m in a tract home and the association says ..no chickens 🙂
    Jana
    .-= jana @ the summer house´s last blog ..Trader Joes Face and Body Sunscreen =-.

  9. We eat local eggs from the grocery store and upgrade occasionally. Sometimes we get fresh eggs from cousins when they come into town, but I know they cage their hens. I’m trying to decide if I should get some hens and hope the HOA doesn’t notice! As long as I don’t get a rooster, nobody will know, right?

  10. I’m lucky enough to be between five and six. Check out this yolk:
    http://anhourinthekitchen.com/2010/04/lookie-here-what-an-orange-egg-yolk/
    .-= kara´s last blog ..Honey, Honey! =-.

  11. Shannon Wendt

    We’re #6 for now, and if we weren’t selling our house, we’d have a few hens in our back yard! When we move that’s the first thing on my list!! Nothing seems more organic than making a meal from scratch with eggs from your very own hens!
    ~Shannon
    OrganicMamas.Etsy.com
    .-= Shannon Wendt´s last blog ..Red Poppy Jasper 8mm Nursing Bracelet- Feeding Reminder, Milkbands, Breast Feeding, =-.

  12. Unfotunately the eggs at my farmer’s market are “battery” eggs, so even though they’re local (and pretty darn cheap) we’re buying organic, free-range, omega-3 eggs at Costco. I just saw last week that my Whole Foods now carries pastured eggs, so we’ll probably make the switch soon. But in about 4 months I should have a couple of pastured eggs every day- there are two 8 week old baby chickens foraging in my backyard right now!

  13. We just moved to #6 this past week! We love our eggs!
    .-= Robin´s last blog ..Five Simple Ways to Live a Healthier Life =-.

  14. We have hens running around in our fenced-in backyard. We have Rhode Island Reds and Ameraucanas. While the Rhode Island Reds lay brown eggs, the Ameraucanas lay eggs with pastel colored blue or green shells.

    Tina, both Ameraucanas and Araucanas (and possibly more?) breeds of chickens lay eggs with shells colored various shades of blue/green.

  15. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    7) We have chickens running around the farm!
    .-= Lenetta @ Nettacow´s last blog ..Link Roundup – What Day Is It? Edition =-.

  16. How long do fertilized eggs last? Is it the same as unfertilized as long as they are in the fridge? (I guess there’s no risk of a chick hatching out when they are kept cold? 🙂 )

    1. They last just as long as the others in the refrigerator and as long as you don’t have a broody hen setting on them they won’t turn into chicks! 🙂

  17. We have no farmers near us (it’s so sad to live where we must for now), but we’ve been buying Eggland’s Best–they seem better than normal grocery store eggs and with their coupons, it helps adjust the price too–but, where do they stand on your line of healthier eggs?

    1. Amanda,
      That is a great question. I will describe EB specifically in the “Egg labels” post since it’s the most readily available “upgrade” egg, I think. I checked out their website, and because of the diet of the chickens, the eggs really are healthier, so for the small step in price, it’s a decent step in nutrition. I think it’s worth it!
      🙂 Katie

      1. Thank you so much for the response! I’m glad to know it’s at least a good step in that direction! 🙂

  18. I guess you could say we would be #7. We raise our own eggs. They have wonderful dark yellow to orange yolks. Since we have very rocky ground we supplement with a good feed. We are putting in pond type containers and will be growing duck weed to use instead of the feed. Occasionally we need to supplement our eggs with #’s 5 or 6. We lost our Tom so we use the turkey eggs for baking. When we feed the chickens fruit scraps the eggs have a wonderful flavor. We probably eat eggs at least 4 times a week for lunch or dinner.

  19. We are at #6 too, and eat eggs nearly daily. Scrambled for breakfast usually, although I’m actually trying to create breakfast burritos to freeze and bake. Haven’t perfected sprouted tortillas yet, that’s holding me back.

    Guess what I found in my garden this morning? A TON of string beans! I didn’t even plant those! And when I have in the past they never grew. But this looks like a year’s supply or more. I’m kind of excited. Going to weed the rest of it (started to) and plant some green peppers and tomatoes very soon.
    .-= Kate´s last blog ..Creating a Meal Plan: Breakfasts and Lunches =-.

  20. About a month ago we started getting our eggs from a local farmer. Then the last two dozen we got I got from a local farmer/grocer. The people are unbelievably nice and very informative. My kids were with and Becky (part owner) asked if the kids wanted to see a baby chick. So we went to see the baby chick and she showed me where the chickens lay eggs. It was neat and really different for me to see.

    She also told me that the hens she has are old school (or an old lineage type deal) and they actually want to sit on their eggs. She told me that most of the hens out there just lay the egg and don’t have the instinct to lay on them anymore. Isn’t that something?

    I paid $2.00 a dozen on sale. Usual pricce is $2.75 a dozen.

    All the egss we eat these days come brown. But the first farmer I went to had a few eggs that came a blueish color. I was surprised to see that!

    Tina
    .-= Tina Fisher´s last blog ..Farmer’s Market =-.

  21. We have started buying organic eggs at Costco. We get 2 dozen for under $6. I had to twist my hubbys’ arm the last time we picked them up because we could have gotten 2 1/2 dozen of the plain ‘ol white eggs for almost half the price. I hope they continue to carry them. I feel better knowing I’m eating something a little bit better for me.
    .-= Heather´s last blog ..Gearing up for the growing season =-.

  22. We are at number 6 as well. We buy eggs from a woman who works with my mother and has the most adorable chickens around. I love knowing where my food comes from.

    I do cheat and buy conventional store eggs at christmas time, though, because baking en masse for people that couldn’t care less about egg quality at family functions doesn’t really persuade me to spend the extra cash on local free range. That’s naughty, I know.
    .-= Em.´s last blog ..Dear Nausea, I love you. =-.

  23. you could also have your own chicken. fuzzy provided my family with free range eggs (the range being our backyard) for many years
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..What I’m Reading 6/4 =-.

  24. suzannah @ so much shouting/laughter

    we just got our own chickens a few weeks ago, and it is so cool to go right to the backyard to get our own eggs!

    eggs sort of creeped me out (when we were buying conventional), and now i’m trying to incorporate them more. we just had a yummy egg breakfast, and i’m looking forward to doing more baking.

    it’s so nice to be able to give them to friends, as well:)

  25. We’re number 6. We get them from the farm where we have our milk herdshare and it’s so fun seeing the chickens running around, then getting their eggs from the refrigerator. We do eat them a lot, especially in the summer when it’s so easy to just scramble up some eggs and vegetables – cheap and nutritious and fast meal!
    .-= Wendy´s last blog ..Spinach Squares =-.

  26. I love buying eggs from the farmer’s market (#5), but my husband gets a little grossed out by the extreme orange of the yolk, so I’m mostly buying supermarket eggs (#3). I’m trying to figure out how to get him switched over. Maybe mixing them in scrambled eggs?
    .-= Marguerite´s last blog ..The 6th Month =-.

    1. Marguerite,
      How sad! The orange yolk is speaking “healthy!” If he’ll eat them in scrambled eggs, scramble away! 🙂 Katie

  27. I am at #4… I usually buy organic eggs from the supermarket. I once in a while will buy eggs from a local farm from the health food store for $2.20. But, I have NO IDEA what they are fed.

    I think it is time I move up to #6 and buy true pastured eggs where the hens live the life they are suppose to live and eat what they are meant to eat!

    I actually bought half of a 100% grass fed cow a couple of weeks ago and in the deal I will be getting 10 dozen eggs for $2 each. Should get the cow in about 2 weeks… I can’t wait for the cow and eggs!!
    .-= Primal Toad´s last blog ..What Is The #1 Thing You Are Grateful For? For Me, It’s Life =-.

    1. Toad,
      Those Rakowski Farm eggs at Harvest Health are worth the $2 in my opinion. They grow their own non-GMO corn and soy and know what’s in the feed, even if it isn’t organic. The chickens do run around! 🙂 Katie

  28. We’re at number 6! And we eat eggs almost everyday. I really don’t want to go back to regular eggs!
    .-= kanmuri´s last blog ..Plasticless life =-.

  29. We really need to upgrade our eggs. We’re at #3, been meaning to move on to #4 (I don’t even know where to find a farmer for #5). “Special” eggs cost double, so it’s been hard to make that move.

    There’s a claim going through the internet that the “local” eggs I’ve been buying are actually imported. I called the company and they denied it, but the “proof photos” online are pretty convincing. Not only are the eggs (supposedly) imported, but it’s from a country I do not want to support. I’d rather support local farmers! It’s so crazy.

    So your post is very timely – it seems we are on our way to #4 with the next carton I buy.

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