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Old 02-26-2009, 11:32 AM   #1
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Actual Cage Free Eggs?

I buy those Eggland's Best eggs for like $3.50 per dozen, because I believe that battery caged chickens are inhuman and less healthy. However, I've heard that a lot of egg sellers just put "Cage Free" or "Free Range" on their cartons and get away with it by letting their chickens around around for an hour a week or just before they die.

Since there doesn't appear to be an FDA seal (or if there is I haven't seen it) that sets a standard for cage free products, is there a list or a website or something that says which eggs are actually cage free/free range and which aren't? I don't mind paying $4 per dozen eggs, but I want to make sure that what I'm paying for is legitimate.

Thank you.

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Old 02-26-2009, 11:59 AM   #2
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It's the USDA that regulates this.

Cage-free means they are not kept in cages. But that's it. Nothing more about how they are kept without cages.

I think you are confusing "cage free" with "free range" as written about in the book The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan. Free range chickens are supposed to have access to the outdoors, so they can range freely

Supposedly, some producers limit the chickens access to the outdoors. Some are said to only allow them to go out later in their life when they have no desire to do so.
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Old 02-26-2009, 12:00 PM   #3
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We also have barn eggs over here, where the birds are loose in the barns.
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Old 02-26-2009, 12:02 PM   #4
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I remember reading somewhere on this site that the Feds say you can call a chicken or its eggs free range if you leave the coop door open for 5 minutes a day so the chickens can go out if they want to.

I doubt that any mass marketed eggs are from chickens living some idyllic life style where they are actually free to roam around at will all day as they would have done 300 years ago (in colonial America for example).
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Old 02-26-2009, 12:09 PM   #5
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Frankly, the only way you can absolutely ensure you're getting eggs from "cage free" or "free range" hens is to purchase from someone local where you can actually see the conditions the birds are raised in.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:09 PM   #6
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Our farmer's market has eggs from locally raised chickens. I used to fork out $5 a carton for those. And I try to support local farmers whenever I can.

Unfortunately, I think what Breezy said is true. For instance, the US regulators say you can't ship peanut butter laced with salmonella. They say you can't push a cow to slaughter with a fork lift, you can't mix spinach with poo. You don't hear too much of local farm CEOs making unethical decisions to the detriment of our food supply.
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Old 02-26-2009, 01:17 PM   #7
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$5 a dozen - arggh. I feel for you. Around here I can get local free-range for $3.50/dozen tops. And that includes an assortment of white, brown, & blue-green (Aracauna) eggs.

I sorely miss not having my own hens as I did back in NY, but am already in the planning stages for starting up another little home flock here in VA. Those were some darn good eggs!!
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Old 02-26-2009, 02:56 PM   #8
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Right. Companies can get away with saying the eggs are cage free or free range, and really have them not be (yay de-regulation). But surely there must be some reputable suppliers or a watch-dog website.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:22 PM   #9
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If they say cage free, I'll bet they aren't in cages.
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Old 02-26-2009, 03:23 PM   #10
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Here is a Humane Society page on egg carton labeling:

A Brief Guide to Egg Carton Labels and Their Relevance to Animal Welfare
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