Let's Talk About Eggs, Baby!
I know y’all have questions about eggs because I get asked them at every single farmers market we attend. So read on to find out what all those egg labels really mean when it comes to eggs sold here in Canada.
Grocery stores are getting better with labelling on their shelves to explain how chickens are housed when it comes to egg production in Canada but keep in mind there is no regulatory body governing the use of these terms — So here’s my informed take on it.
Ok yuck you guys! Can we all just promise right now we won’t be eggs from caged hens?! Believe it or not battery cages still exist in Canadian egg production. Battery cages are wire cages that some hens (actually many hens) in commercial egg operations live their whole lives in.
Thankfully it is something that is currently in the stages of officially being phased out here in Canada but since we’re not there yet you can still buy plenty of eggs in your local grocery store that come from caged hens. The industry is hoping to have all hens living cage free by 2036.
Free Run or Free Roam Eggs:
Sightly and I mean in some cases only marginally better than cage free eggs, free run egg production simply means the hens don’t live in cages. They don’t however have any access to the outdoors — Zero, none, not one bit of outdoor access. They simply get to move around in a (typically tightly stuffed) barn.
This seems to be the most common type of egg production in many grocery stores these days and are the mid to higher priced eggs on store shelves. You can also find free run or free roam eggs at local farmers markets here in BC so if those aren’t the type of conditions you want to support, be sure to ask the farmer before you buy.
Free Range Eggs:
We’re getting better with free range eggs but we still need to be asking producers questions when it comes to this term in local egg production. Free range eggs means that the hens have access to the outdoors but the key here is that in many large-scale farms that doesn’t mean what you might think it does.
Many commercial free range producers not only limit the amount of time hens can go outside in a day, but they’re also not encouraged to go out there in the first place. That can be done by limiting the number, location, and size of doors on the barn… and it’s not always the beautiful pasture you’d imagine out there.
Pasture Raised Eggs:
Ok now these are the babies you want! Pasture raised eggs typically come from smaller farms like ours who’s birds live a happy life and are encouraged to go outside and take part in natural chicken behaviour.
At Central Park Farms, our layer chickens are raised on pasture where they can explore their unique behaviours like dust bathing, foraging for bugs and grubs, and enjoying fresh air.
Other things to look for when buying eggs:
The diet of the hens: We choose to feed a diet free of corn and soy and instead choose a wheat based protein as the basis for the feed we give.
Beware of vegetarian feed claims — Although the feed we give is vegetarian, our birds certainly are not vegetarians and that’s a good thing! Chickens are naturally omnivores and that access to the outdoors means they can eat bugs.
Most of the eggs sold at local farmers markets are pasture raised or free-range but always ask the farmer specifically if their birds have access to the outdoors and what that access looks like.
Are the hens happy? Happy hens lay healthier eggs that you can feel good about feeding to your family.
Where can I buy your pasture raised eggs in the Fraser Valley or Vancouver?
Our eggs are only sold direct to you the consumer at the various farmers markets we attend here in the Fraser Valley, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver and as well direct from our farm in Langley by appointment.
P.S. If you read the title of this post without continuing with the song lyrics, ‘let’s talk about you and me’ then we can’t be friends… Kidding! ;)
Kendall ~ Boss Chick at Central Park Farms