What's in the Egg Basket?
The egg industry has become more sophisticated in the types of eggs they offer, reflecting consumer demand for products that meet their dietary or ethical needs. Most retail egg sets only measure 6 to 12 feet, but they can crowd a lot of choice into that space. Here are the top choices:
Organic: USDA-certified to come from hens fed a diet free of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides, as well as antibiotics and genetically modified grains.
Vegetarian: Hens are fed a diet free of animal by-products.
Pasteurized: Ideal for using in recipes calling for raw eggs, like egg nog, these are heat-processed to kill pathogens.
Free-range: Hens have ready access to the outdoors. Federal regulations only require hens have access; they may actually live in large barns or similar housing.
Cage-free: Often interchangeable with free-range; hens are allowed to roam inside facilities, may have outdoor access, and are allowed to engage in natural behaviors.
Nutrient-enhanced: Hens are raised on a diet of special feed enhanced with specific nutrients. For instance, the feed for omega-3 eggs might include flax, marine algae or fish oils.
Soy-free: Eggs from hens fed a diet free from any soy.