It has been a long time coming, but I am coming to you with some VERY important information.
Now, as a vegetarian, I eat a TON of eggs. It Is very rare that I do not have eggs at least once a day. And, truth be told, I probably would eat them for almost any meal, if given the chance. On salads. Scrambled. For breakfast. It is so weird to me that I used to HATE eggs. Like truly hate them. The taste and the texture reminded me of that time my brother poured about half of a bottle of maple syrup over my eggs and I still ate them.
But honestly, that much cold maple syrup and warm eggs would make anyone gag.
Luckily for me (and for you!), college reinvigorated my love of eggs. It is so funny, because my sister, who is now in college, also learned to love eggs at college too. Eggs are an affordable, delicious, and complete source of protein. I used to buy the cheap eggs because I was not sure of the differences between all of the different varieties. Cage free? Pasture raised? Organic? What do all of these terms mean?
I had the opportunity to try Vital Farms eggs a year ago at Expo West. And the first thing I noticed was the taste. The taste, y’all blew me away! Now, when I eat normal eggs, I realize that they do not have a taste. It was shocking at first. As I began eating more and more of their eggs, I never thought about the hens themselves or how they might be raised. It was not until I received an opportunity from Vital Farms to see how they raise their hens.
When I went to Vital Farm’s pastures in September, I came armed with a boatload of questions because I really wanted to see if there was a difference between Vital Farms and other eggs, not only in taste, but in how the chickens are raised, their health, and the nutrition of their eggs.
What is the difference between “pasture raised”, “free range”, and “cage free”?
Cage free eggs simply mean that the chickens are not kept inside of cages. However, that does not necessarily mean that the chickens have enough space to roam around and do the things chickens do. Free range simply means that birds have access to an out of door area, but does no necessarily mean they are allowed to forage for grass. Vital Farms eggs are certified pasture raised, giving each bird 108 square feet each to roam around on pasture. By contrast, traditional cage free eggs are only given one square foot. That is quite the difference.
My local farmer’s market sells pasture raised eggs. Are those similar to Vital Farms?
Vital Farms eggs are raised on farms located in the pasture belt. The pasture belt is an area of the United States where the temperature never gets too cold, allowing chicken to be outside and on pasture year round. If you are buying pasture raised from an area of the country not located in the pasture belt, you are probably not buying eggs that are pasture raised year round. Vital Farms eggs have been given the certified humane seal, so you know they are pasture raised year round. The criteria for the seal is laid out by the Certified Humane Certification Organization to ensure that they remain cruelty free and certified humane.
What is the difference in the nutritional value between pasture raised eggs and conventional eggs?
In 2007 Mother Earth News, a strong advocate of better farming practices, ran the most thorough nutritional comparison of pasture-raised and factory eggs that we know of. And the results are quite something.
In comparison to a conventional egg, pasture-raised eggs contain:
- 1/3 less cholesterol
- 1/4 less saturated fat
- 2/3 more Vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more Vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
In 2008, a follow up study showed that the significant sunlight exposure the hens enjoy translates from the sun to the hens to the eggs in the form of increased levels of Vitamin D – by as much as 4 to 6 times more than conventional eggs!
Are the chickens forced to be outside?
The doors to their coops are opened between 10 AM and sunset. The hens are allowed to come and go as they please, but are not forced to go outside. In fact, the day we went, it was very hot. A lot of the hens were trying to keep it cool in the shade of the henhouse. If the weather is bad or their safety is at risk, the hens are kept indoors. However, because Vital Farms is certified humane, they are only allowed to be kept indoors
Why are the yolks of your eggs so bright?
Because the hens are allow to “flee the coop” so to speak, they can run outside, clean themselves, and socialize. They also get the opportunity to forage outside for bugs and grass. Their varied diet out of doors allows them to obtain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that might not necessarily be in their feed. Their varied diet is why the yolk is so darn yellow!
What kind of feed do they feed their hens?
The chickens are allowed to forage outside for bugs and grass. However, since hens need more nutrients than a diet of grass and bugs can provide (especially if they are producing eggs daily) the chickens’ diet is supplemented by a feed. The feed’s blend is a mixture of . Depending on what type of Vital Farm eggs you buy depends on the type of feed. Non-GMO eggs use plants that are certified non-GMO. Organic eggs use plants that are certified non-GMO and organic.
If organic/non-GMO are clearly better, why are some of their chicken only given regular feed?
Vital Farms, first and foremost, prides itself on the humane conditions its hens are raised in. The reason for the multiple types of eggs is to allow people with multiple types of budgets to still be able to afford eggs. The “Alfresco” eggs, the eggs raised on feed that is non-GMO and not organic, is still tested rigorously to assure that the hens are receiving the nutrients they need.
So there you have it! You know how much I love cooking and using eggs in (or let us be real, top) all of my recipes. One of the most popular ways I love to cook eggs is soft boiled. As you know, I love a good “lazyman’s poach” because there is no chance I can mess it up. My full proof method for soft boiled, jammy eggs will probably make you as addicted to eggs as I am. Enter at your own risk.
5 minPrep Time
5 minCook Time
10 minTotal Time
- 4 Vital Farms pasture raised eggs
- ice and water (for ice bath to stop cooking eggs)
In a small sauce pot, add water until it reaches a level that will cover the eggs. Heat water to a low boil over medium heat. Slowly add eggs in with a slotted spoon. Cook for 6 minutes. Retrieve with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl filled with water and ice. Allow to sit in ice bath for 5 minutes before peeling and eating or placing unpeeled in the fridge.
Eggs will last in the fridge unpeeled for 3-4 days. I normally eat them cold out of the fridge, but if you want to reheat them, submerge in a warm water bath for about 5 minutes.
This post is sponsored by Vital Farms. All thoughts and opinions are my own.