i'm a new vegetarian... ovo-lacto to be exact, but hope to give up dairy once i get more into the swing of things.

i've been doing research on veggie-ism and came across an article about the "myth" of free-range eggs. the article stated "free range" or "cage free" doesnt necessarily mean what we imagine: that the chicken eggs we consume come from chickens that live freely on farms with plenty of room to roam. (happy chickens.)

the article made the point that free range/ cage free doesn't really mean that. just because they aren't in a cage doesn't mean they aren't closed in a ROOM. so they aren't in CAGES per say, but they could be in crowded INDOOR areas, not even allowed to go outside.


oh no.....


as a purchaser of only free-range eggs, i was always under the impression that the chickens lived naturally, were allowed to chicken about on the farm, leave behind unfertilized eggs which someone went around and picked up and supplied to the consumer. this article has opened a whole new issue that i never even thought of.


does anyone know the facts about this?

if it's true, could the egg companies be allowed to mislead us like this?


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When they say "free range" it only means that the whole farm has SOME accessible outdoor space, and usually it is a small area, maybe no bigger than a couple of yards, for the whole lot of chickens.  Thus, the animals have a minimal chance of getting outdoor time... definitely not enough to meet their needs. The only way to know for sure is to do your research.  However, your best bet is buying locally, go to a farmers market if there's one in your area.


thank you for the info!

You are making a step in the right direction to buy free-range eggs!  The next step is to find someone local who truly does have birds living freely in a yard, or to learn to cook without eggs and to substitute other ingredients when baking.  And yes, the egg companies will lie to make money.

Let me share my insight with you about fertilized v/s unfertilized eggs.  I used to keep chickens in my yard many years ago until my neighbors complained and I had to find a home for them in the country, which is a story for another day.

What I realized about chickens and their eggs is that..There is no way that those birds could ever hatch them all, ever.  A chicken's body makes an egg every day and she passes it, much like when you have your period you are passing an egg.  There is no way that you could have ever have had all those babies!  My chickens laid eggs everywhere; out by the doghouse, by the back steps, in the middle of the yard, on the back porch, under bushes,...  just everywhere. They laid them and they forgot them and they never came back. I had several hens and roosters and these eggs were decidedly fertile.

Every once in a while, one of my hens would create a nest somewhere and lay a clutch of eggs, which she would then tend to and hatch.  I would have NEVER taken these eggs from my hens.

My big egg story is this: One day, I was in my kitchen with the back door of my house open and one of my hens flew up and landed on top of the back door, which opened into my kitchen.  It was OK with me if my birds felt like being social with me so I did not mind if she was there while I washed my dishes or whatever it was that I was doing at the time, which I don't remember now.

What I remember is looking up and seeing my bird looking like she had the hiccups, clucking, and then I saw that she was laying an egg right then, from her perch on top of the door, and I had the sudden visual image of the mess that was about to happen in my kitchen when her egg splattered on the linoleum from a height of six feet.

The feathers on her underside began to part and, astonished, I ran across my kitchen just in time to catch the egg that fell, steaming hot, from her body.  It was a moment that I will probably never forget.

My point in telling this to you is that, no doubt the egg was fertile, and also no doubt, that egg would never have been hatched into a chick.  From an ethical perspective, I don't see anything wrong with eating an egg like that.

As you know, the problem lies in factory farming.  I don't think it matters half so much if eggs are fertile or not as much as it matters that the birds were happy that laid them.

Good Luck to you! ^_^




wow that's a really crazy story! i can see how it would stay in your memory so clearly!


i'd like to hear the story about why you had to give away your chickens too...if you feel like sharing!


thank you so much for the support.


Companies misleading consumers? Never!

FreeRange/CageFree is just a clever marketing tactic to make people like you and me feel a little bit better about our supermarket purchases.

It isn't very nice.

It can be super challenging to make ethical food choices, there always seems to be someone waiting to take advantage of your good intentions :)

i know, i just hate to believe that people could be so dishonest...it's so sad :(

i'm going to try to find a farmers' market around here...if i can't, i guess it's goodbye eggs!

I had 8 hens that we have for egg consumption. With out a rooster, the eggs will never become fertilized. Like Kelly Jean was explaining, a hen produces an egg every 26 hours. The only way it could become fertilized is if there is a rooster around to interact with her during the time or egg production. So I agree, I do not see anything wrong with eating the eggs because they are not fertilized, and would other wise sit there to rot. 

As far as the free-range and cage-free, you are correct. This does not mean they roam the farm all day. The regulations from the FDA are very slack. What this means is there has to be a small space where they hen has access to the outside (even if its a 1ft square cage) The other problem is that most of the chickens have been fed and pumped full of so many hormones that they can't even walk to access the outdoors. Watch the movie Food Inc- it will give you a better understanding of the bad market on chickens.... and beef...


My suggestions is like Kathryn's buy your eggs locally from a farmer, or raise your own chickens ;) hehe

I see this post is kind of old but I just had to add that I LOVED Kelly Jean's story about her chickens! That is wonderful! Sad you had to part with your chickens as I'm sure you grew very attached.


@Katie  I too thought I was doing the right thing by buying cage free egg's until I also found out the sad truth.  You must question everything, do your research as we cannot trust what is put on labels or on advertisements to be true.  There are some cage free eggs you can trust, but you really have to do your homework. Local farms, farmer's markets, and small scale local natural foods stores often have the real thing (and by real thing I mean real free range eggs, that have plenty of room to play and live as chickens should) if raising your own chickens isn't an option. 

It is the sad truth about industrialized farming. In the eyes of the producer (farmer) having a bunch of hens in a nice grassy plot of land open to the air and clucking about is a nightmare. They like to have control over many factors of their hens life like temperature, light, their food, and the comings and goings of people. To many producers their idea of a stressed animal is one that cold, exposed to the elements, one that has the greater potential to get disease/ parasites or become prey to other animals. On many of the mass production scales that most eggs are produced in the grassy plain becomes exceedingly difficult to do and do properly. The man power or technology that would be needed is more than many producers would be willing to bother to go for. By saying "free range" they know they are painting a picture that is misleading, but it is an improvement from the one foot by one foot cage some chickens get to spend their lives in. I honestly wish that I could have a couple of hens to take care of. By doing that I then would feel that by caring for them I could eat their eggs guilt free.

I absolutely loved Kelly Jeans story of the egg laying!

Oh, and Kristin Clapper. In Canada there are laying hens and there are meat hens. The ones with the massive breasts that struggle to move around are the meat hens. The laying hens are often very scrawny and stringy and rarely go for meat that we eat. I'm not sure if that's the way things are done where you are from but either way not a very happy existence for those animals.

Food companies definitely mislead us. Anyone remember those ads a few years ago about how high fructose corn syrup is natural?! What a sham.

www.humanemyth.org has a lot of good info on what "free range" or "cage free" labels really mean. The way I look at it, it's been so easy to replace eggs when I cook that there's no reason to drive myself crazy hunting down acceptable eggs when I can guiltlessly make old recipes vegan. :) Corn starch & water seems to work well in cakes, ground flax adds extra vitamins & omega 3s to to oatmeal cookies or banana muffins, and soft tofu makes the fluffiest breakfast scramble.

Here's a print-out with good info on replacing eggs in baking:



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