Educated Grocery Shopping Continued..."Egg-ucation!"
Our grocery store adventure has now taken us to the Dairy, Eggs, & Cheese isle. I can not stress enough how much of a moral, ethical, and sometimes emotional experience it is to buy eggs. Even reading article after article describing the conditions of chicken’s that lay eggs was incredibly challenging to sit through. My goal is definitely not to make you vegan- and that is why I will spare you some of the details. But my goal is certainly to make sure that you are walking around and shopping as an informed consumer.
Buying eggs isn’t as simple as it seems. Well- it’s simple in that you can pick up a carton of eggs hand a cashier money and walk out of the store…BUT when deciding which eggs to buy it gets more complicated! In fact, just the other day when I was at the park with my kids, I noticed a chicken hanging out with the ducks-quite a funny sight, I don't think they spoke the same language! The thought did cross my mind that maybe raising chickens would yield the kind of eggs I am looking for on a consistent basis.
While I work on building my chicken coop I am going to give you some information that will help you to make the most of the very confusing labels and terminology on the egg cartons. Here is our “egg-ucation!!”
Organic- this label does not tell you anything about the housing conditions and it can be either in a cage OR cage free. It is given organic feed and never receives any vaccines or antibiotics.
Vegetarian - hens are given a strictly vegetarian diet. This label does not tell you anything about whether the hen is in cages or cage-free.
Cage-Free - this label communicates that the hens are not in a cage, but in a floor system in an open barn. It is important to note what a floor system is- the hens can be in very close proximity to others (will depend on the farm) but often they have nest boxes. Additionally, in this sort of environment, because the hens are together and they don’t have an individual feed it often becomes a survival of the fittest environment in this type of housing system.
Free-Range - hens in this kind of farm will have the chance to go outside. They are able to go in and out of the barn at will.
As you can see these labels alone, give quite a lot of information about what the egg went through (and chicken!) to even get to the shelf in the grocery store. Terms can be mixed and matched to give you more of a full picture of the kind of egg you are purchasing. Knowing where you stand on this matter is helpful to being an educated consumer, and taking this one step further- even knowing of the farm your eggs come from can make the decision even easier!
The other products in the dairy isle often have the terms “Free” or “Reduced/Less.” When a product has the label of “Free” it is communicating to you that the food has the least possible amount of a certain nutrient/ingredient. The example I like to use is “cholesterol free potato chips.” Ironic right? That is because cholesterol is only found in animal products. It’s not false information but can be misleading to the consumer. The other wording of “Reduced/Less” means the food has 25% less of a specific nutrient then whatever the regular product is. So this can come in handy if you are looking for less sodium, less sugar, or less fat. The product that often comes to mind for this wording are triscuits! Has anyone ever counted how many triscuit flavors there are!!?? Sooo many! And then once you apply “Reduced Sodium” a whole additional line of product is seen on the shelves! Take a look next time!
Next week we will be passing through the meat and prepared foods section. Until then, happy “egg-ucated” grocery shopping!