hose of you who eat free range eggs know how much better they are than eggs from a factory farm. There is really no comparison. I read wonderful story about an encounter between the organic farmer, Joe Salatan, and a customer looking for eggs. The customer drove up and asked Joe how much his eggs were. “$5.00 a dozen,” he replied.
The customer was taken aback. “$5.00? I can get a dozen eggs from the grocery store for a dollar on sale. Why should I pay $5.00 for yours?
Joe replied calmly, “Because I sell a better quality product. Seeing how you drive a BMW I suspect you know a thing or two about quality.”
Here is a link if you want to know more:
There is a lot of misinformation out there. Sadly, a peer reviewed study got published in the Journal of Poultry Science which shows the effects of free ranging your chickens is negligible. And they are actually correct! Allow me to explain. The researchers took 500 hens, hatched at the same time and treated them identically- same food, same lighting, same care. The only difference was half the population had access to some amount of space outdoors. Our friends at Wikipedia even cite this study saying, “the most rigorous scientific study of late found absolutely no significant nutritional advantage to free range eggs.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free-range_eggs
Here’s the catch: For purposes of labeling eggs as "free range," the hen who laid those eggs doesn't actually have to free range. She can live her entire life without ever seeing the sun, catching a bug or even set foot on soil. All the farmer has to do is provide access to space outdoors. How much space? Can it be a cement slab? How long do they need to have this access per day? The USDA does not have precise rules about what constitutes free range. Under this rather nebulous definition it's easy to see why there was no difference in quality. A hen does not lay superior quality eggs simply by having the opportunity to go outside for a couple hours a day.
The term “free range” implies a lot more than simply access to a space outside. A more relevant comparison would be examine all the differences between a factory farm chicken and a typical free range chicken. To get a truly accurate picture, we would need to take half of our population of hens, cut off their beaks, stuff them in shoe box sized cages, and feed them spent grains from a brewery. And while we’re at it, let’s have some problems with the ventilation system from time to time. Let’s make sure the air is filled with that nasty chicken dust. The other hens get good food, fresh water, and plenty of room to roam, not just some undefined space outside the coop. No journal would consider publishing our study because we changed too many variables. Besides, it’s obvious that a hen under stress and fed garbage (literally) will produce a lower quality egg. But the commercial egg industry can still correctly claim science is on their side with regard to the free range issue.
Phew! All this research has made me hungry. Time for some real FREE RANGE EGGS.