Tagged: organic food

Decoding egg carton labels

Shopping for eggs can be confusing when cartons are plastered with marketing jargon. Cage-free? Organic? Brown or white? We have decoded egg carton labels for you and have compiled some tips on what really matters and what doesn’t, when it comes to buying eggs.

The label: Conventional eggs (Grade AA, A, B)

What it means: The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a rating system for eggs that is based on quality factors including freshness, defects and shell attributes. Eggs are given grades:

  • Grade AA have thick, firm whites and are best for frying
  • Grade A are similar to AA eggs, except the whites are slightly less firm
  • Grade B usually have thinner whites and are ideal for omelettes and cake mixes

These are eggs originate from “commercially farmed” chickens that are typically housed in dark, enclosed spaces with no access to the outdoors.

The label: Cage-free

What it means: Cage-free eggs are laid by hens that are free to roam in an open space. This term is deceiving because they are not completely free-roaming hens – the “open space” is typically inside a barn or poultry house without access to the outdoors. Organic and regular hens can be cage-free.

The label: Free-Range

What it means: Free-range eggs are one step up from cage-free eggs. The hens have access to the outdoors, though the duration or quality of time spent outdoors is unclear. These are better than regular eggs because of the superior treatment of the animal.

The label: Certified organic

What it means: USDA organic certified eggs means the hens receive organic feed that does not contain toxic pesticides or herbicides. These hens are never caged and must have access to the outdoors (free-range).

The label: Omega-3 enriched

What it means: Omega-3 enriched eggs come from hens whose feed is enriched with healthy fatty acids, typically in the form of flaxseed. If your diet contains oily fish (such as salmon, trout and sardines) or you take fish-oil supplements, consuming Omega-3 enriched eggs may not have a huge impact on your diet.

The label: Pasture-raised 

What it means: Pasture-raised eggs are laid by hens that are free to roam on fresh pasture. Their diet is organic. The colour of the egg yolk will be bright orange, in comparison to egg yolks from caged hens that tend to be dull and pale yellow. You can find these at a Farmer’s market or your local farmer.

Source: Jules
Source: Jules

Tips:

  •  Terms such as “Natural” or “hormone-free” shouldn’t be a determining factor in your decision making. According to the USDA, these term mean that nothing was added to the egg. All eggs satisfy this criteria
  • Colour: Eggs typically come in brown or white. The difference in colour is due to the breed of the chicken. A brown egg is no healthier than a white egg – there is no difference in nutritional benefits
  • General rule of thumb: the more expensive the egg, the better quality it is
  • Choose organic eggs if you eat eggs regularly
  • When it comes to size, Extra Large, Large and Medium are commonly found in stores. Larger sized eggs will contain more protein
  • For further reading, see the University of Berkeley’s Supermarket Buying Guide on eggs

Healthy Living Foods: The Organic Round Up

Organic food is popular these days, mainly because people don’t want to eat toxic pesticides, herbacides, fungacides and insecticides that are sprayed on food crops. As people’s consciousness have begun to rise around food and food choices there has been a huge rise in the consumption of organically grown food.

When I start talking about the importance of organic food with folks they often mention that organic food is too expensive and wonder if it is worth the price. In America we’ve grown acoustom to the idea that food should be cheap and so easily American sacrifice quality and value for the sticker price. And, on top of this we are lured by coupons that tell us we will save money by spending money. Folks saving $1.00 on a $3.00 bottle of soda means you just wasted $2.00!!!! You do not save money when you buy unnecessary food like products filled with sugar and chemicals.

With that I want to give you a list of 5 Foods that you should buy that are organically grown.

1.) Apples
2.) Strawberries
3.) Spinach
4.) Lettuce
5.) Kale

Other foods in this category are grapes, peaches, nectarines, blueberries and celery.  The foods listed in this category are most likely to contain chemical reside from conventional farming.  These are all really potent foods that excel in nutrition and by purchasing them from farmers that don’t use chemicals ensures you are receiving the best.

Conversely there are foods that are generally safe to eat when not grown organically, the list includes avocados, onions, eggplant, asparagus, mangoes and kiwis. On average these foods rank low on the pesticide residue level.

Ever wonder why organic food is more expensive?

Part of the reason lies simply in the certification process, the agencies that do this work charge fees, plain and simple. The do have to investigate and make sure the farmer or food handler is actually doing the job they say they are doing. It is this kind of administrative and beuracratic work that leads to increased costs. They provide oversight based on a set of guidelines and this helps to ensure that what is advertised is what is delivered. This is time consuming and requires a lot of man power, this leads increased costs for the consumer. 
But, if you want to avoid all this you have two options: 1.) Grow Your Own or 2.) Shop at a local farm get to know the farmer and ask questions. Find out what chemicals they use and on what crops, often a farmer will grow food organically but not have the resources to through the organic certification process. So check with farmers at your farmers markets and plant a little kitchen garden because nothing beats food straight from the garden!

This piece was written and compiled for Zebra Organics by Mark D’Aquila, flower essence practitioner, www.essencealchemy.com