Eggs are one of the trickiest foods at the grocery store.
Labels like “cage-free” (which means nothing), “free-range,” “pasture-raised,” etc. make it difficult to know exactly what you’re buying and which brands of eggs are best.
I’ve posted egg buying guides before, but I thought it might be helpful to share a few of my favorite brands and why I like them.
These brands are distributed nationally, but you may have other great local options in your area.
3 Egg Brands You Can Trust
The Happy Egg Co.
All Happy Egg Co’s farms are truly free-range, with hens guaranteed at least 14 square feet per bird.
Hens are given wooden perching towers, sand pits for dust bathing (a natural behavior), plus clean water + feeding troughs – all rarities in the egg industry, believe it or not.
What I like best about Happy Egg Co eggs is that you can find them at conventional grocery stores (Safeway/Vons, Kroger/Ralph’s, etc.), and they’re the least expensive free-range eggs.
Backyard Eggs (by Vital Farms)
Eggs from pasture-raised hens are the most nutritious and tastiest in my opinion. Backyard Eggs provide at least 108 square feet of pasture per bird, so the hens have a huge amount of space to roam and eat grass, bugs, worms, etc. (eating these little critters are what make the egg yolks so golden).
Backyard Eggs are also Certified Humane, and Non-GMO Verified (this is a big deal since most non-organic hens eat GMO feed).
Backyard Eggs and Vital Farms are products from the same company, but the Vital Farms eggs are Certified Organic. The hens are raised in the same way according to similar standards, but all their pasture and feed is organic.
I like how Vital Farms gives you a little report on what’s happening on the farm (Backyard Eggs does this too) and that all the eggs look different from each other.
Vital Farms eggs are more expensive, but you are guaranteed eggs from hens who have never been exposed to pesticides or antibiotics.
A note on cost
If you’re buying eggs for less than $3-4/dozen, odds are very good that your eggs come from inhumanely treated hens. It costs a lot to raise hens in the right way, which is why the options above are priced higher than most regular grocery store eggs. Paying more for eggs like these guarantees you a better product and your farmer a fair wage, plus ensures better animal and environmental welfare.
shelleyJune 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm
I wish everyone would read this post and respond with their wallets!
Amelia WinslowJune 11, 2014 at 9:20 am
Over time I hope that will happen! It’s definitely more expensive to buy quality eggs, but if you eat fewer eggs (and eat the whole egg for goodness sake!) and more plant foods, it evens out.
DeniseJune 11, 2014 at 3:53 pm
Thanks to you Ms Amelia our family switched egg brands a couple of week ago. Thank you for sharing the truth with us!
Amelia WinslowJune 12, 2014 at 3:31 pm
That warms my heart! Thanks for sharing!
Courtney LovettJune 17, 2014 at 6:14 pm
Love your article! Happy Eggs all are all I buy. I’ve never heard of the other two brands but one thing is for sure…once you eat free range eggs you won’t go back! We hope to get our own chickens once we have a bigger yard! 🙂
I find it sad that we have to pay more to get our food the way it was intended to be!
jenniferJune 18, 2014 at 11:01 am
I bought the Happy Egg Co. eggs by chance once when my store was out of their store brand organic eggs. I was SO happy with the quality and taste I haven’t looked back.
Amelia WinslowJune 18, 2014 at 12:18 pm
They really are superior to store-brand, aren’t they! All thanks to that yummy pasture-grazing 🙂
Amelia WinslowJune 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm
I agree with you, Courtney! Everyone – regardless of their food budget – should have access to humanely-produced, high quality food. Hopefully we will get there someday!
JP CarvalloJanuary 14, 2015 at 9:09 am
Hi, I just found your article, thanks for it! I had a couple of questions, though. First, the third picture from top to bottom, with the hens roaming around, seems at odds with the “14 sqf per hen” statement from Happy Egg Co. Is the picture from their website? If not, I just wanted to point out how important (and many times deceiving) these pictures are for people appraising the quality and humane nature of the eggs they are buying. Second, I’d appreciate if you can clarify the differences between a pasture vs non-pasture raised egg. For example, the “vegetarian feed” statement in Happy Egg Co. suggests that hens may be fed grains (probably soy or corn) in feeders, as opposed to “self-fed” worms and other bugs. The 14 vs 108 sqf are also telling. What other difference would you know? Thanks!
Amelia WinslowJanuary 15, 2015 at 12:58 pm
Hi JP –
Thanks for your comments. You bring up some great points!
1) The photo you mention is from Happy Egg Co, and I agree it doesn’t exactly represent 14 square feet. Looks like much more! The farms where Happy Egg hens live do vary (this is from one of their farms) but 14 square feet is a minimum.
2) Pasture-raised eggs graze on pasture much of the time, and are able to peck and eat whatever they find in the dirt/grass, which may include worms and bugs (that’s what gives those super yellow yolks). Most pastured hens are also given some vegetarian feed, which if not organic may contain GMO soy and corn. To be considered pasture-raised, hens just need exposure to healthy, natural-to-the-animal pasture.
3) To be sure you aren’t eating eggs that come from hens who’ve eaten GMO soy or corn, buying “pasture-raised organic eggs” rather than pasture-raised OR organic, is best.
Hope that helps!
MeredithMay 8, 2015 at 10:35 pm
Thanks for the information! Do you know if any/all of these brands engage in culling male chicks?
Amelia WinslowMay 9, 2015 at 10:11 am
I don’t think so, but I don’t know, so I’ll investigate and get back to you, Meredith!
StephanieJuly 2, 2015 at 7:12 pm
What none of these companies address, however, is where they source their hens from, and what happens to all the baby male chicks that are unwanted because of their inability to produce eggs. Are they buried alive and thrown into grinders fully conscious as so often happens on other factory farms?
Amelia WinslowJuly 6, 2015 at 9:07 am
Knowing these companies, I would guess that they have more humane plans for the male chicks. But I’ve never thought about this aspect, to be honest, so I’ll do some investigating to see what they say. Thanks for bringing up this point, Stephanie.
IreneJuly 21, 2015 at 2:57 pm
Happy eggs are not range free chickens there crammed in cages
Amelia WinslowJuly 23, 2015 at 2:36 pm
Actually, they have 14 sq feet of space per hen. They are never kept in cages.
TinaAugust 27, 2015 at 8:12 am
Have you found anything out about how the male chicks are treated in companies like these?
CherylSeptember 19, 2015 at 8:43 am
I just bought some Vital Farms pasture eggs – and the main thing that I notice is that the yolks are pale yellow. This suggests that the hens are n likely to be eating grass. My hens that eat grass and bugs and are free ranging have dark orange yolks due to the carotenoids in the grass. My daughter did an experiment for school. She restricted access to grass for 2 hens, allowing them only chicken layer pellet feed, and within 2 weeks, these 2 hens were producing eggs with pale yellow yolks. I think that Vital Farms must be using some technicality to say their eggs are on pasture….. I actually find this is true of all of the ‘pasture raised’ commercial eggs i have bought. I am just hoping that perhaps the chickens on these farms have at least better conditions than our inhumane ‘norm’.
Amelia WinslowSeptember 25, 2015 at 12:56 pm
Hi Cheryl, I’d give Vital Farms another look – they actually have great practices and the hens have plenty of freedom to roam, peck, eat grass & worms, etc. I always find the yolks to be very golden, and so flavorful. If you have hens though, that’s even better! Enjoy those homegrown eggs.
BethOctober 5, 2015 at 9:45 am
I also have found that compared to my neighbor’s backyard raised hens, the yolks of the vital farms are less yellow. Other things to note. Nowhere can I find that vital farms are NOT fed soy.
When you get the true backyard raised eggs you will note: orangey yellow yolks, the shells crack much easier (I wonder if commercial raised eggs are given something to harden the shell) and the whites are fluffy and actually raise up like a cake if you do fried eggs. They are also very juicy. Vital farms was our go- to but even now comparing it to back yard raised I have some doubts but we use in a pinch when we do not get them from the neighbor.
Amelia WinslowOctober 5, 2015 at 12:46 pm
Hi again Beth. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I think the shells & “fluffiness” and “juiciness” you’re referencing is because backyard eggs are so fresh. Eggs are a fragile food and they do change in composition during transportation. The more an egg jiggles, the more it separates from the shell and gets tougher. Backyard eggs don’t have to undergo any transport so they are perfectly fresh and fluffy.
There is no brand that rivals homegrown eggs, but I still stand by Vital Farms (and their sub-brand “Backyard Eggs”) as a good option when homegrown or neighbor eggs aren’t available.
Again, thank you for taking the time to chat about this topic with me!
AbhellaOctober 8, 2015 at 11:28 am
I’ve noticed similar results as Cheryl with Vital Farms. Some eggs yolks are deeper orange than others and while it’s normal to expect some variance, sometimes there’s a significant difference.
I just got back from Europe (Netherlands and Romania) and the cheap eggs ($3-4) I bought were better than anything I could get from typical large retailers in San Jose no matter what the source or cost ($8-10).
Amelia WinslowOctober 8, 2015 at 5:45 pm
Europe knows where it’s at with food!! Hopefully American consumers will start demanding more high quality food too.
DanDecember 16, 2015 at 9:32 am
Can people buy pasture raised eggs if they don’t live anywhere near such humane farms?
DanDecember 16, 2015 at 9:37 am
I forgot to add, any powdered pasture raised egg products yet. I would think those would be much less expensive to ship.
Amelia WinslowDecember 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm
Great question! I haven’t looked into this, but will do so and report back.
Amelia WinslowDecember 18, 2015 at 4:26 pm
Yes, these egg brands are distributed nationally. Look for Backyard Eggs or Pasture-Raised eggs in natural grocery stores in your region.
John PayneDecember 23, 2015 at 4:18 pm
Same question. Having a hard time finding a brand that insists on humane treatment for male chicks
MsIrisMGDecember 31, 2015 at 2:12 pm
Even if you pay $6 for a dozen, that’s only 50 cents per egg. If you eat two eggs for breakfast, your meal cost you only $1.00. Try that at McDonald’s. These eggs are a bargain
Amelia WinslowJanuary 1, 2016 at 8:55 am
Great point! The “high cost” is actually more of a perception, not a reality.
Tyson MJanuary 4, 2016 at 2:58 pm
So a lot of people have asked and I think we’re all still curious. What did you find out about the male culling processes of these brands?
michelleJanuary 12, 2016 at 2:39 pm
yes they all cull the male chicks or buy from hatcheries that do
JaneJanuary 18, 2016 at 10:59 am
Great tasting eggs – I just discovered these eggs at our grocery store
Hens and all animals need to be treated Kindly – there is so much abuse
I will buy these eggs from now on
JoyceFebruary 2, 2016 at 2:41 pm
I recently started buying vital farms eggs but my package says pasture raised alfresco eggs. What is the difference between this and the backyard eggs? I paid $7.49 in whole foods foe this brand and $6.49 in Shoprite
Amelia WinslowFebruary 3, 2016 at 2:08 pm
All those varieties are by Vital Farms. The pasture raised alfresco eggs are the same as the backyard eggs. Then Vital Farms also has organic pasture-raised eggs. So the only difference is whether or not the hens are eating all-organic feed or not.
TashiFebruary 6, 2016 at 6:46 am
Somebody please read this before you buy supposedly ‘free range’ eggs
Amelia WinslowFebruary 6, 2016 at 1:30 pm
Hi Tashi, though the umbrella company is the same, Happy Eggs in the U.S. are raised and produced in the U.S. What you’re referencing was actually disproven, and the “watch group” who originally brought this up admitted to exaggerating what they found as well as creating lies about the company.
Bill SardiFebruary 15, 2016 at 7:19 am
Hate to be critical Amelia, you obviously value humane treatment of the egg-laying hens over nutritional value.
The original idea of pasture fed (grass fed) was to increase omega-3 oil in the egg.
The free-range idea was to increase the nutritional value of the egg by virtue of the chicken roaming and eating worms, seeds, etc. That the chickens get exercise is one thing, that there is anything in that exercise yard for them to eat (grass, seeds, etc.) is another issue altogether. When chickens eat from the ground they acquire parasites. It may be better for them to eat from feeders.
Obviously, the amount of vitamin D in the egg will be better if raised outdoors versus indoors.
I think women have bought into this idea of humane treatment of chickens because of their nurturing instincts. Consumers are buying eggs, the topic of your report, not chickens. And the mood of the chickens (happy) is not transferred to the egg. At least I see no evidence of that.
Amelia WinslowFebruary 17, 2016 at 3:28 pm
Thanks for your perspective, Bill.
KaymartinFebruary 24, 2016 at 7:56 am
I live in Tallahassee whet can I buy these eggs?
Amelia WinslowFebruary 24, 2016 at 11:20 am
Perhaps at Publix or a health food/natural food store in your area?
treverMarch 18, 2016 at 12:50 pm
Were you able to find out what they do with the male chicks that can’t lay eggs? also, do you know what they do with the hens when their laying cycle is up?
Andrew DeanMarch 29, 2016 at 9:10 am
Trust? You have to be joking!
In 2010, an undercover investigation by animal charity Viva exposed grim conditions in two Fife hen farms owned by Noble Foods and used in the popular Happy Eggs brand, which is also accredited by the RSPCA Freedom Food scheme.
An employee was filmed using electric wires to control the birds, who were also encouraged to remain indoors.
One worker admitted that a barn was infested with red mite – a parasite that causes skin irritations.
And on a second visit, investigators filmed dozens of birds which had lost feathers after being pecked by other hens.
Amelia WinslowMarch 30, 2016 at 12:36 pm
I think you are referring to operations in the U.K. Andrew. Much of that scandal was later proven untrue. If you’re referring to the U.S. I’d love to see a source.
KohlApril 1, 2016 at 11:29 am
I’ve noticed the same thing. Pay $7 for vital farms and the yolks are a dull pale yellow. I find that happy eggs for $5 produces the best orange colored yolk from all the store brands
Peter GazzardApril 8, 2016 at 8:12 am
Many years ago in England I stayed with a cousin whose husband managed a hatchery. After hatching, the chicks were immediately “sexed” and the males put on trays that were then put into an oven and gassed. They mostly went to a local pig farm as food.
chris ugucciniApril 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm
Gave up meat 3 years ago and upon realizing the cruelty to hens in laying factories recently, have switched to free range eggs. I buy them for the ethical treatment of the hens only. We have to realize that once the hens have reached the end of their laying cycle, they become soup chickens. Its a fact of life, but at least they had a decent humane life doing what chickens do. I’ll just leave them to those who prefer to eat other living creatures to take it from there.
VanessaApril 15, 2016 at 8:06 am
Hello, thank you for all this information. I agree that once you have eaten these type of eggs, it is a world of difference. My family had them for breakfast and that part of our day was noticeably different. Our digestive system let me know something good had happened. It has encouraged us to move toward more natural ways to nourish ourselves. Information like this is very helpful. Thanks again.
Jessica AspenApril 18, 2016 at 5:00 am
I’ve been buying Happy Eggs, and just found Vital Farms eggs. Love how fresh they are! Thanks for the information. 🙂
Amelia WinslowApril 18, 2016 at 4:15 pm
Glad you enjoyed the eggs, Vanessa!
Amelia WinslowApril 18, 2016 at 4:16 pm
Glad you’re finding good eggs, Jessica!
RobynApril 23, 2016 at 6:19 am
Thank you for the information. Does the feed used include soy? That was not addressed in your write up.
SueApril 23, 2016 at 2:45 pm
I love the Vital Farms eggs, however, after buying several dozen or so, I do notice a huge range in quality. Some are so amazingly beautiful and delicious, and some are just ok. I haven’t figured out how to pick the best ones. I do notice they have several packinging varieties. Does anyone know what the differences are. Thank you.
Amelia WinslowApril 25, 2016 at 11:02 am
Hi Sue. It’s natural to have a wide range of egg yolk colors when you’re raising hens naturally. Some will be deep gold, some more mild in color and flavor. This is not a bad thing, and I personally feel comfortable with the brand no matter what my eggs look like. As far as varieties – Vital Farms has an organic pasture-raised, and their Backyard Eggs which are pasture-raised but not organic.
Amelia WinslowApril 25, 2016 at 11:03 am
Normally, chicken feed does include soy. However when hens are pasture-raised I’m not sure. I’ll look into this for you.
Stephen LaBarreMay 8, 2016 at 10:00 pm
I am responding more than a year after your post, so things may have changed since then. I believe the Happy Egg Co now states they give 21.8 sq ft of space per bird and not 14. And… if I remember correctly, that was a minimum standard to receive certification from the American Humane Association. It’s not quite pasture-raised, but it’s miles ahead of other producers that raise cage-free hens. Things are changing for the better.
Stephen LaBarreMay 8, 2016 at 10:19 pm
Yes. I’m not a vegetarian, but I eat almost no meat. I get most of my daily supply of protein from eggs. If you look at it from that standpoint, eggs are my meat and I don’t mind spending 50-cents per egg. Beef, especially grass fed, can be fairly expensive considering its shelf life (unless you freeze it). So, my ‘protein budget’ is spent on eggs instead of meat. You can get a lot of mileage out of a dozen eggs.
Stephen LaBarreMay 8, 2016 at 10:36 pm
Bill. I believe there’s still a lot we don’t know about the animal products we consume. The living conditions of egg laying hens vary from the industrial enclosures to pasture roaming. These varying conditions dictate the levels of stress imposed on the hens and therefore the amount of stress hormones (such as corticosterone) that are released. As is the case with humans; less stress usually translates to better health. While I don’t know of any particular data that proves such, I would like to think eggs from low stress birds are generally better. Again…, I don’t know this for a fact. Just wishful, hopeful thinking.
Diane KittermanMay 23, 2016 at 1:57 pm
Hello! You may want to update your post as Vital Farms feeds soy to their hens, NOT a good choice. Thanks!
George GianakosMay 25, 2016 at 10:06 am
I have to tell you. After seeing undercover footage of what goes on in so many places – I swore off eggs forever. I used to be able to have eggs for breakfast, lunch and dinner without hesitation. It has been months and I am trying to find brands that provide safe, humane conditions for hens (AND NO CULLING). Thanks for the help. I am also looking to find local farms in my area in Bergen County NJ if anyone can help.
NikMay 29, 2016 at 6:57 pm
Thanks for the amazing post. I can honestly feel the difference after switching to vital farm eggs.
Chuck IrekJune 5, 2016 at 9:27 pm
Recently I purchased some free range eggs for the first time. What a taste difference !! Where can I find your product around here ? We live in southeastern NC between Wilmington NC and Myrtle Beach SC. Can I buy them from you directly ??
Amelia WinslowJune 6, 2016 at 12:27 pm
Hi Chuck, I’m not familiar with brands in your region, but I know that Vital Farms / Backyard Eggs sells nationally – so look for these at Whole Foods or your natural foods grocer!
PennyJune 8, 2016 at 11:14 am
George, I am in NJ also and am still searching for cull-free eggs.
Angine LieberJune 11, 2016 at 6:18 am
It is disappointing that even with all the great claims, the information is still unclear, and from what it seems you are saying, if the box doesn’t say organic, the hens have been fed GMO feed, which is in the eggs. That is my concern. I’m paying a high price and still getting GMO ?
Amelia WinslowJune 13, 2016 at 2:42 pm
Unfortunately, buying organic is currently the only way to truly avoid GMO’s in any food in the U.S. right now. Non-GMO Project Verified foods should be non-GMO too, but as far as animal feed, anything that’s not organic is almost certainly GMO.
VictoriaJune 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm
Hello, On June 2, 2015, the question was raised around what these 3 companies are doing with the male chicks. At that time, on June 5, 2015, you indicated you would do some investigating. It’s been over a year, what results do you have to report? I am feeling rather suspicious that the answer is not a positive one so the original question was never responded to. Thank you.
A HJune 22, 2016 at 8:26 pm
I did not read all of your comments and replies, so you may already be aware of the fact that there is a
video on YouTube titled: The Happy Egg Company Sick & Dying Hens(pepeneon). Now, the video was Uoloaded on Oct 11, 2010 and has had 17,249 views. The free-range farm run by Noble Foods –
is Britain’s largest egg producer and the video is SCARY! It shows a farm that has overcrowding, mites, electic wiring too close & dirty, muddy water.
I’m wondering if you are aware of this info and if it is still taking place anywhere. I live in Los Angeles, CA and often buy these eggs, so I am very concerned. They are expensive — and it is unacceptable to be charging any amount for an unhealthy product let alone ‘over charging’ for them.
Please reply ASAP! Thanks
Amelia WinslowJune 23, 2016 at 8:54 am
Hi there – what you’re mentioning occurred in the U.K. not here, and it was later found that the footage was exaggerated and not even of a Happy Egg Co farm. So those who produced the video were in error. I haven’t been to a Happy Egg Co farm here in the U.S. but from everything I know about the company and what they stand for, I personally feel confident they are producing as they say they are.
Amelia WinslowJune 23, 2016 at 8:55 am
Hi Victoria, I’m so sorry for my delay in posting a response. I was in contact with someone at Vital Farms, and this is what they told me. It’s not great news, but it seems to be the industry standard even for those who are trying to change the way eggs are produced. Here’s what I got back from them:
1) Do you engage in culling of male chickens?
Sadly, yes, the hatcheries that our chicks come from do currently practice culling, and for a number of reasons (which I will explain below) we currently have little option. However, a short while back, our Chief Eggsecutive officer Matt spoke with the CEO of Unilever about a pledge they had made to end this practice, and we are hopeful that some of the possible solutions will become economically viable. Rest assured, the moment they are, we will be making the switch.
But for the moment, due to Federal concerns with food safety (and in particular, the threat of bird flu) all commercial flocks must come from certified hatcheries, where this practice is still happening. What little control we do have we use to source our pullets (teenage hens) from farmers who have purchased their chicks from hatcheries with the highest standards in the industry. And while we could not in good faith claim that any form of euthanasia can be considered completely humane, the methodology used, and the level of care taken to ensure that it is as painless as possible, is the best we can hope for until (which again, we hope will be really soon) some alternative form of in-ovo sexing becomes viable.
As it currently stands, male chicks are sadly of no economic value – they cannot be raised for meat as they’re simply not suitable for that, and our farmers cannot afford to raise them alongside the ladies as they eat a great deal more, but produce nothing that the farmers can sell. As it is, the economic realities of farming are based on small margins. Feeding even one hungry rooster can influence those, let alone a whole flock of them.
2) What happens to hens after they’re no longer laying eggs?
Once the productivity of a flock declines to the point where it costs more to care for them than they make, we have little choice but to retire them. Again, due to Federal constraints, we are not permitted to sell them on, or use their meat for any purpose, which we used to do. And neither is it viable or affordable to let them live out their lives in peace – in truth, if we were not able to house and feed them, it would be a miserable, stressful and probably quite short life, crueler than the alternative.
We do do all that we can to make sure that the end of their lives is a painless and stress free as possible. We transport them at night, so most are asleep and in a calm state, and the facility is no more than a couple hours away (most of the time it’s much closer), so there is less strain of traveling. Then, to ease their passing, we slowly raised the CO2 levels in the enclosure until they slip away.
Most of our producers are small, family-owned farms who make an honest, but not lucrative living from this ethical and humane method of farming. They would simply not be able to do that if they had to keep the older hens.
Cindy AshlineJune 24, 2016 at 8:18 am
Ok, will this sounds great. The first choice for $4.99 would be ideal.
However, I just have one question. What happens to the male chicks? It is great if the female hens are treated humanely. I hope the male chicks have a happy life too. Do they get to be adopted? Do you keep some of them? Are their lives considered precious too?
Amelia WinslowJune 24, 2016 at 2:44 pm
Hi Cindy, see my response to Victoria – it’s information coming directly from Vital Farms about what happens to male chicks. Unfortunately, egg farmers operate on such thin margins that all hatcheries in the U.S. are not able to keep males around. It doesn’t seem humane to me either, but it’s how our egg industry works right now. This info actually has me debating whether I want to eat eggs anymore.
Linda ConnellJuly 11, 2016 at 2:59 pm
I’m glad to see you finally received and included information about the male chicks, and the hens whose production has slowed down. They are murdered, and there is nothing humane about that. And the milk industry is way worse. After years of trying to find “humane” products, I am now vegan. And I feel wonderful about no longer living in conflict over what I was supporting by my food choices.
Amelia WinslowJuly 15, 2016 at 1:13 pm
Hi Linda, thanks for sharing your perspective. Veganism is one way to live out your food values, and I’ll admit after learning these facts about egg farming I’ve been using plant-based egg alternatives more often. Of course, there are concerns with vegan foods too (ingredients in milk alternatives, sustainability of palm oil, coconut and other nut farming, etc), so no matter the dietary lifestyle we choose, continuing to learn how things are produced helps keep us aware and able to make good purchasing decisions.
NikiJuly 24, 2016 at 7:51 pm
I just got the Happy Eggs brand here in California and the yolk was very pale yellow. I am still investigating on all that eggs claims and controversy. In corporate America everyone lies (ok almost everyone), I guess the only way is to start raising our own food.
J.M. RodriguezJuly 25, 2016 at 5:47 pm
I sell brown eggs from pasture raised hens at a local state of MS Dept of Agriculture operated Farmers Market. I am State of MS /USDA National Poultry Improvement Plan inspected and hold a valid State of MS Retail Egg Licence. Someone remarked about strong egg shells, that can be accomplished by providing crushed oyster shell and crushed limestone free available access to the hens along with granite grit to supplement their calcium uptake and to aid in digestion of forage. Weak eggs are from older hens that do not have that access and are depleting calcium from their bones, leading to serious health issues. We supplement pasture and woods foraging with a soy and corn free NON GMO feed, Texas Naturals Elite Layer. You can find out who the shysters are by asking to tour their farm. If they will not let you visit, do not buy their eggs, who knows the real source or method of production. We welcome any and all who want to see our humane, sustainable and organic standards based operation. One last note, bright orange yolks can be artificially induced by adding Bright yellow Marigold Flower meal to confined and loose hens feed, thus faking appearance of access to forage and bugs and worms, seeds, grasses, etc..
Amelia WinslowJuly 27, 2016 at 11:01 pm
I can see why you’re skeptical, Nikki. It’s true that many companies have betrayed consumer trust. But I have to say, I’ve visited some “big organic” companies who have impressed me beyond belief. They grow and produce food in a way I value, trust and believe in. So keep your head up. Some companies really ARE committed to healthy food, healthy people and a healthy planet.
JoeyAugust 1, 2016 at 10:04 am
I am new to this site so I may ask questions that you have already answered. Which companies have you visited? Were the visits scheduled or did you just “drop in”? I would like to visit humane farms.
JoeyAugust 1, 2016 at 10:32 am
I, too, after learning about the overall inhumane practices of even the most humane companies, now eat a plant-based diet. I am encouraged that at least some companies have made some improvements in the treatment of animals. These companies probably have a much smaller profit margin because of their more humane practices, thus I do recognize their efforts. For me personally, however, it is not enough for me to buy eggs again. (BTW, I love the taste of eggs, and hope to have my own backyard chickens one day. That way I will know that the eggs I’m eating are completely cruelty free, because my chickens will be very pampered.) Yes, of course there are always concerns with all foods, however, on average, the environmental impact of eating a plant-based diet is less than eating a traditional animal based diet.
Amelia WinslowAugust 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm
Hi Joey, thanks for sharing your perspective and personal experience. I totally agree!
Amelia WinslowAugust 1, 2016 at 12:24 pm
Hi Joey, I’ve visited some small farms that distribute regionally, particularly in the Northeast. However I’ll be diving into this topic more in the coming year and hope to visit some Happy Egg, Vital Farms, Organic Valley and Horizon eggs and will be sure to share what I find here. Visiting farms always provides a whole new view.
Erin CuretAugust 18, 2016 at 8:04 am
I have been noticing this with Happy Eggs as of late as well. As a family of four, we eat about 4 dozen eggs weekly and have noticed that about 3-4 eggs per dozen of the Happy Egg brand are now extremely pale yellow compared to the rest of the eggs. I am not sure what is happening, but it is enough of an instance that we are considering switching to a more expensive/inconvenient but localized source.
Amelia WinslowAugust 18, 2016 at 3:19 pm
Hi Erin — thanks for your thoughts on Happy Eggs. I’m still finding them to have golden yolks and be of good quality, but I’ll admit I do buy Vital Farms/Backyard eggs whenever possible. They’re a little more expensive (but do go on sale) but offer consistent quality.
PKPAugust 21, 2016 at 11:04 am
Has anyone else noticed Happy Eggs yolks are very light in color recently?
RAugust 22, 2016 at 9:56 am
I just wanted to add that I’ve purchased Happy and Vital eggs. I stopped buying Happy due to more research and the price point doesn’t match up with quality. Why so cheap?
Anyway, I tried out Vital eggs non organic and they had very orange yolks and the quality tasted like farmers market eggs. Then, bought their organic ones when I saw them at Whole Foods, well, the yolks were very pale yellow and the taste was lackluster.
Back to the farmers market.
Amelia WinslowAugust 23, 2016 at 6:53 am
There’s a lot of variation in eggs from batch to batch, and in yolk color. Pale doesn’t necessarily mean bad. But of course, if you have access to farm fresh pasture-raised eggs from friends or the farmers market and can skip the grocery store altogether, why not?
Eva BrunnerAugust 28, 2016 at 9:53 am
Hi. I appreciate that you are trying to give your followers good information on eggs, but actually your information in a little off. If you want to understand which eggs are truly the most humanely raised – and what that even means please check out Cornucopia Institute “Egg Scorecard” They use a rating systems based on a lot of different criteria from 5 Eggs (best) to 1 Egg (worst). As an example Vital Farms gets a 4 egg rating, but Happy Egg gets a 3 egg rating. 3 egg is not horrible, but it’s not great either.
The have scorecards for many products such as dairy, yogurt, eggs, a pet food guide, cereal, soy products. It’s important information.
Check out Cornucopia.org
Amelia WinslowAugust 28, 2016 at 6:07 pm
I reference Cornucopia a lot and have seen their egg chart. They are an important consumer advocacy group but they’re not always correct either. They have some ratings that are very different from what I’ve seen at farms (like for Organic Valley). This post is not meant to replace any other info, just adding to it and sharing a few brands I like.
Alexander VSeptember 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm
Thanks, Amelia. Even though as a bodybuilder I consume a profusion of eggs, (I made my first purchase of cage-free eggs yesterday), but even though pasture-raised eggs are more expensive, I’m willing to do it to support the farmers who treat their animals with dignity. It’s going to sting the wallet, but I think it’s worth it. As soon as I found out that “cage-free” means practically nothing, I decided that I’m going to buy I’m going to buy pasture-raised. I’ll still buy a few white eggs here or there, because I can use them for the egg whites, but the whole eggs I eat will be brown and from a reputable source. 🙂
Amelia WinslowSeptember 3, 2016 at 8:59 pm
Glad you found this article helpful, Alexander, and even more glad you’re switching to more humanely raised eggs! I wanted to point out that an egg’s color (brown, white, or any other assortment of colors) doesn’t mean anything as far as how it was raised. So make sure to read the label and get to know the brands in order to determine how a carton of eggs has been produced.
PoornimaSeptember 23, 2016 at 10:29 pm
Hi, Thanks for the information you have shared.
i have gone through the whole conversation
and still have a question on how the hens are fed during winter (Happy eggs/vital farms/backyard eggs).
Do the hens have outdoor access?
MonaSeptember 26, 2016 at 6:52 am
I started buying happy eggs because the yolks were a deep orange instead of pale yellow. This lasted for several months and now the last happy eggs I bought have the same pale yellow yolk as the rest of the eggs and I notice a difference in the smell. Not good!! The free roaming and eating green grass is what makes the yolk orange. Don’t know where they were raised, but not the same as before.
Amelia WinslowSeptember 29, 2016 at 1:21 pm
What I’ve heard is that yolk color doesn’t necessarily reflect what a hen has been eating. Some yolks will be paler than others due to a variety of different factors. I agree there’s something comforting and delicious about a deep golden yolk, though.
Jill SubiratsOctober 26, 2016 at 9:56 am
I just read an article on how the Costco “Free-Range” hens are handled and I’m so disgusted. It’s utterly horrific the conditions these poor animals are living in. I thought I was doing the right thing buying free range from them but after reading the truth I will no longer buy their product. It hurts my heart to know the torture those hens are going through. Until I can raise my own hens I’ll have to find one of the 3 brands you mentioned. Thank you for sharing this with me.
Amelia WinslowOctober 27, 2016 at 11:44 am
I’m glad you found this information helpful. As I mention here, the term “free range” doesn’t mean much unless you also see the terms “organic” and “pasture-raised.” There are other humane and high quality regional brands beyond these, you just have to know what to look for on the label. Just FYI.
SharonNovember 6, 2016 at 8:53 am
I didn’t read all the way down to the end, but I didn’t see any questions relating to soy. Soy is often fed to chickens as a cheap protein source. Organic or not, soy is not a healthful ingredient as it can mess with estrogen levels. Are there any eggs that are organic, GMO free AND soy free? I fortunately do have a supplier around me, and am currently raising my own chickens on soy free organic feed.
Amelia WinslowNovember 7, 2016 at 9:53 am
Hi Sharon, I hear what you’re saying and appreciate you wanting to find eggs from hens who eat the purest food. But re: soy, the issue is more complicated. What’s been shown to increase estrogen levels is soy protein isolate – a derivative of soy that’s in processed foods like fake meat, protein bars, shakes, snacks with “extra protein,” etc. Soy as a whole food (like whole soybeans, tofu, edamame, most soy milks, and products made from whole soybeans) is associated with health benefits, not disease. If you look at populations like the Japanese, who eat a lot of whole soy foods, they have low rates of breast cancer, obesity, and other health conditions associated with too much estrogen. If you were to find a soy feed that’s made from whole soybeans, not soy derivatives, you wouldn’t need to worry about this aspect of health. There is a ton of published research on soy protein isolate and it’s relationship to increased estrogen levels online, if you want to learn more, and nowhere are whole soybeans mentioned as potentially harmful. Thanks for being so dedicated to creating a healthy food source
NicholeNovember 10, 2016 at 11:42 am
This is true I have two hens that eat exactly the same thing and are on pasture all day. One lays a deep orange and the other a pale yellow.
A.ParkerNovember 13, 2016 at 8:36 am
Noble Foods which is the owner of Happy Egg has not been disproved. Various employees incl. US are whistleblowing. Please remember that the UK welfare stamps from RSPCA etc.. (Freedom Food and Red Tractor) are worth absolutely zero. It just means that the animals are kept in the minimum welfare conditions. Prime example is 9 laying hens per square meter ……. These stamps and seals are such lovely, pretty things and mean absolutely nothing! The best eggs to buy are the ones from the farmer you know or the market stall holder who sells eggs from farmers that belong to an independent and open register of livestock keepers. F.y.i…….this is the standard Noble Foods adhere to with their live stock. The same applies to their US operations. I have been keeping chickens for years and a chicken gets to be on average 2 years and keeps laying pretty much to the end albeit at longer intervals…..Happy Egg gets rid of the as soon as the 24 hrs cycle starts to get to 25hrs…. They then get slaughtered to mainly halal standard and sold as free range supermarket chickens…..
Amelia WinslowNovember 14, 2016 at 9:59 am
Thanks for your comments. I’ll look into this link you shared to see what’s behind it. I appreciate you chiming into the conversation.
BGDecember 10, 2016 at 2:50 pm
December 2016, we just bought 2/18 egg cartons of The Happy Egg Co. and are not happy. The store was out of the eggs we normally buy which has rich orange yellows. Happy Eggs were pale yellow. Last time we go for their bull.
We will go where ever we have to, to buy Eggland’s Best eggs which are healthy and delicious.
Amelia WinslowDecember 15, 2016 at 11:47 am
The color of the yolk can vary a lot even within pasture-raised eggs. Don’t discount a brand just because of the yolk color — it may be that in winter time they’re grazing on slightly different things.
michelleDecember 31, 2016 at 5:26 am
I buy happy all the time and you are right the color does change with the season…never had a problem with happy eggs
LynJanuary 18, 2017 at 12:49 pm
Hello-are you aware of any egg brand that is completely pasteur fed-no soy or corn products?
Amelia WinslowJanuary 19, 2017 at 1:09 pm
I’m not sure, Lyn. I will ask the regional brands I know of. Our farmer’s market does have exclusively pasture-raised hens – they don’t receive any corn or soy feed – and interestingly, as with all yolks, the color is sometimes deep golden, sometimes pale yellow. Just a note!
GraceFebruary 8, 2017 at 12:59 pm
You’ve GOT to be kidding me-$6.99 a dozen?? Hahahahahahaha!! Wow, that’s just dumb. There is NO WAY it costs that much to produce healthy eggs. Bottom line is the bottom line, and the fact is people like you cater to the rich, and jack your prices up so poor people can’t afford to eat healthy food.
Amelia WinslowFebruary 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm
Unfortunately, it DOES cost a lot to raise animals humanely and sell the dairy, eggs and meat that they produce. There’s no getting around that. When you see cheap food, you should know that the cost is being born by *someone* – if not the consumer, then maybe the farmer, the farm workers, the land, animals, or a combination of them all.
I agree that its unfair that only fairly wealthy people can afford the healthiest, most sustainably produced food. But there are many things we can do about this that don’t involve taking advantage of farmers, destroying our planet, or treating animals inhumanely. Some examples: waste less food (the average household wastes 30-40% of what they buy, a very costly habit), eat more plants and fewer animal products, cook more at home instead of eating out, fight for changes to farm policy to subsidize producers of produce and healthy crops instead of just corn and soy.
If we don’t stand up for farmers and demand healthy, sustainably produced food for our families – which means voting with your dollar whenever possible – then the future of our food system is bleak, and the next generation will face even more significant challenges than ours.
MichaelFebruary 19, 2017 at 11:20 am
No any more. Happy Eggs I bought today have a yellow yolk. It lack the taste of free range egg. Seems like the quality has change 🙁
Michael BrummelMarch 12, 2017 at 8:07 pm
First time to this site. I purchase my first dozen eggs from Happy Egg Co couple days ago. For several years I’ve only purchase eggs from Vital Farms. Yes it does cost more but I save money in medical cost. I am a healthier person because I buy organic food. Our cheap food supply in this Country is killing us but slowly. No wonder we need health insurance. If we can get families back on the farm and rid these factory farms prices may come down. I’m from Wisconsin, we’ve lost so many family farms. Factory farms are moving in, some from California. Its becoming more difficult and expensive to get healthy food.
JerryMarch 19, 2017 at 4:02 pm
What are your thoughts on the handsome brook brand? They claim their eggs are both pasture raised & organic.
Amelia WinslowMarch 21, 2017 at 8:45 pm
I’m not familiar with that brand, Jerry. Where do you find it?
FranMarch 26, 2017 at 4:45 pm
The soy the Japanese eat and the soy we Americans eat are two different types of soy. You can’t compare them.
ScottMarch 27, 2017 at 8:54 am
We have Blue Sky Eggs in Indianapolis, at Kroger. I really like their Free Range eggs but wish I could get their Pasture Raised around here.
They are wonderful and I have done some research into Blue Sky. They are produced by Egg Innovations, which according to their website, they go way over and above when it comes to animal treatment. I found them on the American Humane Association website also and they support family farms too!
Terry FeeMarch 28, 2017 at 12:18 am
Just wondering why Vital eggs and Happy eggs are Grade A. I like Grade A for scrambled eggs, but prefer t
have Grade AA for over easy eggs.
Amelia WinslowApril 11, 2017 at 5:04 am
The grade refers to the appearance, cleanliness, shape and texture of the shell – as well as the “air cell” of the interior. To me, this is irrelevant when choosing eggs. Eggs from your own backyard chickens might be Grade B or not even achieve grade B, though they could be delicious. Also the difference between Grade AA and Grade A is minimal – and could be compared to an apple that is slightly misshapen and an apple that’s perfectly round, but still tastes fantastic. If you can find Grade AA and prefer it, go for it.
Amelia WinslowApril 11, 2017 at 5:04 am
Hi Scott, thanks for alerting me to this brand!
Amelia WinslowApril 11, 2017 at 5:08 am
That’s partly true, Fran. In Japan they tend to eat unprocessed soy – tofu, soybeans and miso (which is fermented). Here we have many processed soy derivatives used in processed food. The whole soy products are definitely healthier. If you focus on buying organic whole soy products instead of processed foods, that’s a healthier choice and comparable to what the Japanese eat.
HDApril 14, 2017 at 6:09 pm
AJMay 21, 2017 at 8:06 am
Just fyi for anyone who cares, Vital Farms supplements their hens diet with feed that includes SOY. They do not state this on their packaging, which I feel is misleading consumers. Most people think pasture raised means the hens are only eating whatever is out on the pasture (grass, bugs, etc). NOPE, in order to keep egg production up a hen needs more than just what nature provides. Therefore, even small organic non-gmo (etc etc) farms supplement with feed. However, I think it should be stated on their carton that the hens are receiving a supplemental diet that includes soy as many people are avoiding soy and animals that eat it.
Check vital farms FAQs, it is there. Just should be on carton also. They may be treating their hens better than “the other guys”, but what an animal eats is just as important as the conditions it lives in.
I think this is a very significant topic, and hope you can add this to the article.
Amelia WinslowMay 26, 2017 at 10:46 am
You’re right that even pasture-raised hens in commercial egg production are supplemented with feed (even if organic) and that feed often includes soy. I don’t know of any major brands that don’t supplement with chicken feed. If you’re trying to completely avoid soy you may want to find a local farmer or friend with backyard chickens – though even they may supplement. Thanks for adding your thoughts here.
JocelynMay 28, 2017 at 8:52 pm
We have backyard chickens that are fed non-gmo, non-soy feed and are on lawn all day; they always have pale yolks. The breed may have something to do with it as well.
Diana GuzmanJuly 16, 2017 at 9:47 pm
I would like to know what happens to the male birds on this companies? I’ve seen horrible videos showing up how this industry kill the males because they are not productive as hens are to produce eggs. That is so bad and now Im looking for any brand cruelty free not just for hens but for the males.
ConnieLeeJuly 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm
I would like to know this as well. I do not want to buy from a place that does this.
Lisa JonesJuly 17, 2017 at 7:43 pm
Sorry to disappoint you about Eggland’s Best, but I read an article today on FB regarding the horrible conditions of chickens that produce their product.
Amelia WinslowJuly 20, 2017 at 10:31 am
Hi Lisa, Egglands Best is not one of my recommended brands.
Amelia WinslowJuly 20, 2017 at 10:32 am
Hi Connie Lee,
Unfortunately, all male birds are exterminated, at all the brands I’ve ever known. I too am uncomfortable with this, but if you want to eat eggs, it’s a reality of the system – even with the best brands. I’ve contemplated not eating eggs because of this!
Amelia WinslowJuly 20, 2017 at 10:33 am
Unfortunately you’re right all male birds are exterminated, at all the brands I’ve ever known. I too am uncomfortable with this, but if you want to eat eggs, it’s a reality of the system – even with the best brands. I talked to Vital Farms about this and one thing they assured me is that their method is the most humane, as far as animal suffering goes. This is not necessarily the case with conventional brands, so it helps a little. But I’ve contemplated not eating eggs because of this!
OliverAugust 5, 2017 at 5:28 am
I’ve noticed this too but it’s not just seasonal. Happy eggs use to have bright yellow/orange yokes and now they are pale yellow. Omelettes and scrambled eggs look anemic now.
Amelia WinslowAugust 22, 2017 at 3:55 pm
As has been mentioned, there’s a lot of variation in yolk color, even with pasture-raised eggs.
Genevieve J MessmerSeptember 12, 2017 at 5:19 pm
Why aren’t the Happy Egg organic eggs marked USDA Organic on the cartons? We were happy to be able to purchase organic eggs at Sam’s Club but after we got home I noticed this was missing. How can they label them organic if they’re not USDA approved organic?
Genevieve J MessmerSeptember 12, 2017 at 5:20 pm
Why aren’t the Happy Egg organic eggs marked USDA Organic on the cartons? We were happy to be able to purchase organic eggs at Sam’s Club but after we got home I noticed this was missing. How can they label them organic if they’re not USDA approved organic?
ChrisSeptember 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm
what would happen if instead of just killing the male chicks, they had a “roster rescue” program, and put them up for adoption as pets?
ChrisSeptember 19, 2017 at 1:46 pm
Why not just put the male chicks up for adoption as pets? Maybe the rooster will eat unwanted bugs out of your yard. Don’t know if they’ll eat ants, but maybe
Amelia WinslowSeptember 27, 2017 at 3:24 pm
Not a bad idea, Chris.
Amelia WinslowSeptember 27, 2017 at 3:45 pm
Happy Eggs are not organic. They are pasture-raised, so the hens have more space to roam than most conventional hens (who spend most of the time in cages or crowded indoor hen houses), but they eat conventional feed, not organic feed. I still feel Happy Eggs are a better choice than most other brands, but if Vital Farms eggs are available where I’m shopping, I choose those instead.
Amelia WinslowSeptember 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm
Happy Eggs are not organic. The hens who lay them do spend more time outdoors, grazing and roaming, than most conventional hens (who spend most of their time in cages or in crowded henhouses) but they are not Certified Organic. The Happy Egg hens eat some conventional feed in addition to grazing, not organic feed.
RedOctober 5, 2017 at 6:41 am
Thanks for that info, I get my eggs from healthy tradition s in Wisconsin, they test for glyphosphates (round up) and do not use any soy or corn to feed, which I find VERY IMPORTANT. If the container says vegetarian-fed, the hens are probably fed corn and soy.
Cindy RolfeNovember 5, 2017 at 7:36 am
Please everyone go to utube see the horrid conditions their farms are happy eggs is a farce!
Amelia WinslowNovember 8, 2017 at 1:01 pm
Hi Cindy, there are some old videos on Youtube that “expose” conditions in British factories – but those are not verified to be Happy Egg facilities and are not related to the Happy Egg Co conditions in the U.S.
JonathanNovember 25, 2017 at 3:05 pm
Handsome Brook are great. I found one place nearby using their store locator
Cube0December 8, 2017 at 10:16 am
Once you decides to eat eggs (even from your own backyard chickens, and even your chickens are very pampered), it is no way that it is completely cruel free. Be honest to yourself and remember you are eating the eggs of your chicken, the babies of your chicken. Here is the best analogy the snake crawls up to the bird’s nest and steal the eggs from the mother bird. I am not criticize you on your decision on eating eggs, but I dont think what you claimed about the completely cruelty-free is true at all.
Cube0December 8, 2017 at 10:33 am
There are a lot of eggsperts on this forum 🙂
ChrisJanuary 26, 2018 at 11:34 am
I contacted one of the Pastured hen egg companies, either happy egg or Vital, what I was told is they are working on a process for hens that they would lay predominately female chicks
ChrisJanuary 26, 2018 at 11:38 am
I started buying Happy Eggs at Wal-Mart who has them at least a dollar or more cheaper than Major Supermarket chains. I’ve fount them pretty consistent on Flavor, but the color of the yokes do change here and there, but Not the quality of the eggs. I’m very glad to find an affordable alternative to factory farm eggs, which I will no longer buy if given a choice. I will only buy pastured hen eggs from now on when available.
ChrisJanuary 26, 2018 at 11:43 am
Pastured Eggs really do taste better than factory farm hen abused eggs. And it is morally better as the hens are not crammed together to live horrible lives
ChrisJanuary 26, 2018 at 11:46 am
The wired fence is for the Hens’ protection. They are free to wander all over the pasture, are not otherwise contained by force. They are encouraged to be in the barns during bad weather, just like most decent folks would do for their pets.
ChrisJanuary 26, 2018 at 11:51 am
Also drink Milk from Humanely Raised Cows. Despite what PETA might tell you, YES there are such a thing. Organic Valley Farms for one. And Yes if you drink the Whole Milk, you CAN tell the difference. Very Creamy taste and texture.
As for Cheese and Butter, its pretty pricey, but as an alternative, from what I found researching, Tillamook cows are not confined to a stall all the time but can roam in and out, so their cheese and butter are a little Less Pricey.
Cynthia AndersonMarch 10, 2018 at 8:24 am
I just wanted to comment as to the way chickens appear in a large chicken house. My parents raised chickens when I was growing up and my husband and I had chickens when my kids were growing up. Chickens go through a cycle of molt when they loose feathers and also stop laying as many eggs. They look very unkempt, shall we say, during this time. Somewhere up above in comments it was mentioned chickens that had lost feathers. This may be why. All of ours would have been considered free range but they didn’t always look fluffy and handsome 365.
E. M.April 14, 2018 at 5:37 pm
Chicken eggs that are not fertilized are not “baby chickens,” nor can they ever become chickens.