Cage-Free, Free-Range, Organic: What’s the Difference?
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Cage-Free, Free-Range, Organic: What’s the Difference?

Posted on Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013 at 8:00 am
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For many families, eggs are considered a staple on their weekly grocery list. Before deciding if you want brown or white eggs, large or small eggs, and whether you’ll use the full dozen, you must make the choice between organic, cage-free, free-range, and vegetarian eggs. For some, this distinction might not really make a difference. If you’ve committed yourself and your family to an organic or natural diet, understanding the subtle difference between egg types is pretty important.

Cage-Free

Cage-free eggs are the right choice for anyone who finds chicken cages to be small and inhumane. Cage-free eggs come from chickens that don’t live in cages. Typically, these chickens live in a covered barn with bedding material like pine shavings on the floor beneath them. They are provided with nest boxes and are allowed perches to lay their eggs. However, it’s important to keep in mind that some cage-free chickens may still live in extremely close quarters with other chickens – just not in cages.

Free-Range

In order for a chicken to qualify as free-range, they must be provided with the freedom to go outside. In this case, chickens can either have free access to the outdoors, or they must spend some portion of their day outside. The type of outdoor access they are offered could include a small covered patio-like area, or a larger uncovered space to roam. It all depends on the farm.

Organic

In order for a carton of eggs to bear organic certification from the USDA, there are several strict guidelines chicken farmers must adhere to. For starters, their chickens must be free from any vaccines, hormones, or antibiotics. Their diet must also consist of grain that has been grown on land free from toxic pesticides or fertilizers for a 3 year period, and it must be free from genetically modified organisms. This is the best choice for anyone committed to an organic diet.

Vegetarian

While the term, “vegetarian egg” might sound strange, it actually refers to the chicken’s diet. In short, vegetarian chickens eat feed that is free from meat or fish by-products. They are kept in cages or indoors so that they cannot consume any bugs or worms found outside.

Keep in mind that different farms are run differently. If you’re really curious about where your eggs come from and how the chickens are raised, look into where the eggs in your store come from. You can then conduct some research on your own to find the farm that fits your values the best!

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.