Definitions to help you understand the dizzying array of eggs

An egg is an egg, right? Wrong. Today’s grocery shelves carry a variety of eggs—with so many different terms on the cartons that they require an explanation. This is what the terms mean:

Cage-free: Chickens roam freely in an enclosed area, with unlimited access to food and water during their production cycles.

Free range: Birds shelter indoors with unlimited access to food and water. They roam freely outdoors during their production cycles. The outdoor area may be fenced.

Grade: Grade A eggs have thick whites, which do not spread easily; these are best for frying. Grade B eggs have thinner whites; these are good for cakes and omelets. Grades are based on those and other qualities, including defects.

Grass-fed: Birds receive a majority of their nutrients from grass throughout their life. This does not mean no antibiotics or pesticides were used on them.

Humane: Third-party labeling programs certify animals were treated humanely.

Natural: All eggs are natural. This doesn’t denote how birds were raised.

No added hormones, or raised without hormones: Federal regulations have never permitted hormones or steroids in poultry.

Organic: Birds are not caged, have access to the outdoors and their feed is produced without conventional pesticides or fertilizers.

Shell color: It was once thought brown eggs were better than white ones. This is incorrect. Shell color is based on the breed of the chicken.

Yolk color: Yolks range from light yellow to a deep orange-yellow, and that color is determined by the chickens’ food.

BHM Edit Staff