Ode to the Pasture-Raised Egg

Oh egg how I love thee, especially if you come from a pasture-raised hen!! Eggs are simply amazing; nutritious, beautiful, long lasting, and versatile, they really are a near perfect food. The incredible color, taste, smell, and nutrient density of an egg when it comes from a pasture-raised hen is remarkable. Golden yolks standing at attention when cracked into a frying pan is something I love to wake up to.


So what's the difference between an egg from a pasture-raised chicken and one that's raised inside? First of all, chickens, my friends, are omnivores. Chickens thrive on a diet loaded with bugs, worms, ticks, grubs, fly larvae, and believe it or not, grass! When a chicken lives inside, it does not have access to little six and eight legged critters, grass, or fresh air. Indoor chickens usually live on a grain only diet which is not what a chicken would eat if left to roam outside. So what about the egg? A chicken that lives primarily on pasture during the growing season will lay an egg that is superior in nutritional density than an egg from a chicken who eats grains alone.

The above chart from Mother Earth News illustrates that eggs from pasture-raised hens are far superior in the good stuff and considerably lower in the bad stuff. The article accompanying this chart also states that eggs from pasture-raised hens 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 to 6 times more vitamin D

The research is compelling and definitely makes one think about the money that we spend on our food. The higher price of pasture-raised eggs may be well worth it when we look at the nutritional benefits, the more humane treatment of the animals, and the flavor. It's relatively easy to put a bunch of birds in a very large chicken house and have them fed via machine, (hence the low cost of conventionally raised eggs), but the pasture model is much different and costs more. Pasture-raising any animal takes a lot more physical labor meaning more money spent, but when properly managed, is part of a regenerative type of farming which leads to less runoff, healthier soil, and a happier chicken.



Write a comment

Comments: 4
  • #1

    Tracey (Friday, 20 May 2016 05:12)

    I feel sorry for the folks who are unable to have access to real free range hens and their eggs...I am unable to eat any other than. There really is a difference in taste, and after reading this post the nutritional values. And it just feels right to support our local farmers and the hard work they do!

  • #2

    Pam (Sunday, 05 June 2016 01:14)

    A Kansas State University study done in 2001 show that eggs have a lipid that actually lowers cholesterol absorption.

    Unless of course, it's a manipulated egg like Eggland's Best© in which case...all bets are off.

  • #3

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