With inflation at an all-time high, it’s essential to be smart when grocery shopping. In our last Making Smart Choices post, we talked about organic produce. This week, let’s shop smarter by understanding the differences in free-range, cage-free, organic, and all the other forms of eggs out there.
1. Understanding the Labels
b. Free-Range, Cage-Free, Pasture-Raised
2. Local Farmer’s Markets
Understanding the Labels
When you visit the grocery store and walk down the dairy/egg aisle, you’ll see lots of egg cartons with the labels “free-range,” “cage-free,” “organic,” and “pasture-raised.” What do they all mean, though?
As we learned from our last post, the label ‘organic’ does not necessarily mean that the food is more nutritious than non-organic food. When eggs are labeled as “organic,” the hens are not given feed that contains animal byproducts, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or other potentially harmful ingredients. However, according to the Cleveland Clinic, hens are allowed to be fed antibiotics, which may be harmful to humans. The Cleveland Clinic also notes that the ‘organic’ label means that the hens have not been raised in cages, but their access to the outside may be limited. Look for the USDA Certified Organic label to tell if the eggs are organic or not.
Free-Range, Cage-Free, Pasture-Raised
If you are someone that worries about animal welfare, then knowing the difference between these three terms is important. Free-range means the hens are fed grains and may rummage for other foods, and they have access to the outdoors or are raised outdoors. However, the outdoor conditions and the amount of time spent outdoors is not known.
Hens that are raised cage-free have access to the outdoors and have an unlimited food supply. Additionally, as the name suggests, hens are not restricted by cages. While this may sound better than free-range conditions, the truth is that hens at cage-free farms may be so close together that they are unable to roam around or eat enough food.
Pasture-raised means chickens have access to hunt for their natural foods, which makes their eggs more nutritious in value. According to the Cleveland Clinic, pasture-raised eggs contain more omega-3 fat compared to others.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests looking for the Animal Welfare Approved stamp or “Certified Humane” on the labeling, which means chickens are raised in happy homes. However, if these products are not found in your area, then the clinic suggests speaking with your local farmer.
Local Farmer’s Markets in South LA
Central Avenue Farmers’ Market
Offers fresh produce and dried nuts. It is open on Thursdays from 9am-2pm and is located at 4301 South Central St, Los Angeles (on Central and 43rd street). They accept CalFresh EBT, WIC, and even offer a Market Match, which doubles CalFresh up to $10/day. Be sure to stop by the information booth for your Market Match. Learn more here.
Can’t make it out on Thursdays? No problem! Visit Crenshaw Farmer’s Market on Saturdays between 10am and 3pm. The market is located at the AFIBA Center (Fire Station 54) parking lot- 5730 Crenshaw Blvd, Los Angeles. They also accept CalFresh EBT, WIC, and will Market Match.