Thanks to Jamie Oliver, we all know that free-range is better than cage eggs right? But is choosing good quality eggs that simple?
You probably also know that there are big differences in free-range farming including stocking density (Australian laws allow 10,000 birds per hectare - if you had this many you'd have to de-beak the chickens because they'd have no space, they would also run out of grass to eat within a day) and whether the chickens actually go outdoors at all (there may be a small door but they may not even use it!).
And there's actually something else that's very important to consider - has your egg been washed?
You might think washing is a good thing, and yes a light wipe to get any chicken poo and feathers off is sometimes necessary. But eggs come with their own natural protective coating called a "bloom". If you wash the bloom off, you significantly reduce the shelf life of the egg.
Most commercial egg operations wash their eggs in a chemical solution. As eggs are porous, those chemicals are getting inside!
After chatting with Bronwyn from 9 Dorf Farms recently I also discovered that apparently it's common practice for eggs that have been washed to then be coated in oil so they last longer (because they've drastically reduced the shelf life by washing them!). What sort of oil you ask? Bronwyn asked this recently at an egg industry meeting and was horrified to learn they use a petroleum based oil. Not even a food. Yep. That's getting into the eggs.
It really pays to do your research and choose wisely!
We get our pastured eggs from Echo Valley Farms and Walker Farm Foods - regenerative farmers who rotate their animals on the land. This ensures they always have fresh grass and bugs to eat, room to move and it actually sequesters carbon in the soil (farming can be good for the planet!). And they do not wash their eggs!