These days, it’s commonly accepted that local, organic food is more nutritious than packaged and store-bought products. But when it comes to chicken eggs, the extent of that nutritional disparity is astonishing. We are what we eat. And when it comes to chickens, what they eat—or more specifically, what they forage— has a whole lot to do with the health of the eggs they lay.
A note about factory-farmed eggs
Factory-farmed eggs come from chickens kept in close quarters at massive scale to produce the maximum possible output.
There are more than 280 million egg-laying hens in the United States confined to battery cages—small wire cages stacked in tiers and lined up in rows inside warehouses. In accordance with the USDA's recommendation to give each hen four inches of 'feeder space' (you read that right: FOUR INCHES), hens are commonly packed four to a cage measuring 16 inches wide. Whether an egg is labeled free-range, cage-free or organic, chances are good that if it came from the grocery store, it was laid by a hen who has never run through an open field, scratched in fresh grass, or even seen the outside world. Cage-free and free-range don’t refer at all to birds being given access to the outdoors—the phrases just mean the birds are kept on factory floors instead of in cages. The hens are often just as cramped, and often more violent toward each other from all the stress.