All Eggs Are Not The Same: Why “Cage-Free” Doesn’t Mean “Free-Range & More!

Happy Egg vs Costco Egg

See the difference between a Happy Egg Company egg and your average egg from Costco (or any other grocer).


Eggs are sometimes disparaged for their cholesterol content, but an egg also offers high nutrient value with 13 vitamins and minerals, high quality, easily digested protein, healthy unsaturated fats and antioxidants, all for fewer than 100 calories!

Eggs are a natural source of some of the highest quality proteins of any food available. Your average egg provides over six grams of protein, or 13 percent of the recommended Daily Value (DV), and nearly half is found in the yolk. In addition to being a nutrient-rich source of high-quality protein, eggs are also a rich source of vitamins, including A, E and K and a range of B vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, folate, B12 and B6.

These values are based on your average egg, which unfortunately, comes from high production farms where hens are kept in 8.5” x 8.5” wire cages. (That is a space smaller than a sheet of copy paper, for a bird with a 30” wingspan!) I’ll show you how pastured (not to be confused with pasteurized) hens produce eggs that are superior in flavor and health benefits! But before I tell you how much better, let me go over the different terms used in classifying eggs so you know the difference.


CONVENTIONAL EGGS – standard grocery store eggs, usually from caged hens unable to stretch or move around, fed a commercial feed that may contain GMOs or animal by-products, and may be treated with antibiotics & hormones to fight diseases or infection from habitual feather pecking & cannibalism.

FARM-FRESH EGGS – no standardized definition to distinguish “Farm-Fresh” from the required freshness of any Conventional Egg, and most likely came from caged hens.

“NATURAL” EGGS – People think the word “natural” means something. It doesn’t. In term of eggs, it generally means no artificial ingredients and “minimally processed.” But then again, that applies to 99% of eggs on the market (meaning caged hens). See the link below for more on “natural” regarding other foods.

ORGANIC EGGS – means not treated with anibiotics or hormones, and fed organic feed. These hen may or may not have had limited access to the outdoors.

VEGETARIAN EGGS – hens are only fed a vegetarian diet from from any meat or fish by-products, but kept in cages or indoors so they do not peck any grubs or worms.

Black Eagle Farm, a “cage-free” operation in Virginia, houses 48,000 hens. Platforms are designed to cram as many hens as possible into the building. This is a typical large-scale commercial operation being advertised as “animal friendly.”

CAGE-FREE – doesn’t mean the hens have access to the outdoors, but they could be in an over-crowded, smelly hen house. Better than being in a cage, but they may still never see the light of day.

Eggs Free-Range-Chicken-Farm

Enormous building full of chickens has doors that allow those chickens who can reach the doors, access to the outside.

FREE-RANGE EGGS – could mean there is a small window on a crowded hen house where hens have the “access” to the outside. However, outside does not have to be a pasture, and a concrete slab counts as “outdoor access.” People often confuse Cage-Free as the same as Free-Range.

OMEGA-3 ENRICHED EGGS – like conventional chickens, but feed is supplemented with Omega-3 via sources like flax seed. These hen may or may not have had limited access to the outdoors.

The farms that supply eggs to the Happy Egg Company let chickens live in a more natural environment where they can flap their wings, roll in a dust bath, peck at grass and insects, perch where they wish, and run around freely.

PASTURED EGGS – hens are allowed to roam free eating plants and insects (their natural diet) along with commercial feed.


Studies have found that the beef from free-range, grass-fed cows have a healthier nutritional composition than penned, factory-farmed cows fed GMO commercial feed. And, the same superior nutritional benefit has been found in the eggs of pastured hens. In 2007 Mother Earth News magazine tested the nutritional value of pastured eggs from 14 different farms. They were measured in a chemical lab before being compared to the USDA conventional egg; and, the results were remarkable!

Pastured Vs Conventional Eggs

 Chart reprinted from

You can see pastured eggs were not only significantly higher in Vitamin A, E, and Omega-3s, but also lower in cholesterol and saturated fat!

Do you have any friends or relatives who keep saying that the eggs and bacon back on the farm tasted so much better? Or maybe they said their family ate eggs all the time back then, and didn’t have the health problems associated with high cholesterol like today? Maybe it was because they ate eggs raised the old-fashioned way.

So now you’re asking, where can you get pastured eggs raised the old-fashioned way? I have to admit that I did get some coupons from The Happy Egg Co. to try some for free, but my praise for their product is based on facts. If you are a skeptic like me, please do the research like I did. And while you’re at it, also check out The Happy Egg Co. website to see exactly how well they treat their laying hens. I believe you will be as impressed that they go far above and beyond the minimum effort to have their eggs classified as “Pastured Eggs!”


The Happy Egg Co.

The American Egg Board (AEB)

“Pastured vs Omega-3 vs Conventional Eggs – What’s The Difference?” by Kris Gunnars, Authority Nutrition – An Evidence-Based Approach

“How Much Protein Does 1 Egg Have?” by Norma DeVault,

“Cage Vs. Free Range Eggs” by Dawn Walls-Thumma, Demand Media, SFGATE

DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I occasionally may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I only recommend products or services I have personally used myself and trust. I will always identify those products where I have received compensation in any form.

Want to get in touch with me for product reviews?

One Response

  1. […] Also see why “Cage-Free” isn’t really as humane as they promote it to be; and, why they should be shooting for “Free-Range” or “Pastured” chickens!… […]

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