What Does “Free Range Eggs” Really Mean?

published May 19, 2017
Post Image
(Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

Egg cartons are so packed with buzz words these days that you’d think the people who write them are paid by the word. The bad news? Most of the time, they’re just that: words. Take the term “cage-free.” Sounds nice. Except, often, hens are crammed floor-to-ceiling into warehouse-like metal enclosures, still living in close confinement and never going outside. Not exactly what a well-meaning, conscientious shopper (that’s you, right?) has in mind.

So what words can you trust? Here are three we love: certified humane, and Nellie’s.

Nellie’s Free Range eggs are (you guessed it) free-range, and they’re from the first farm in the country to be certified humane by the Humane Farm Animal Care Program.

Now, what do all those words mean?

Humane certification requires strict standards. There are no cages on Nellie’s farms — anywhere. Hens have ample space and shelter in clean, well-ventilated barns, plus ready access to grass and the outdoors. They’re only kept inside under a few conditions — like in cold, inclement weather and when ground predators like foxes are spotted nearby — and when they are inside, they still have dirt scratch areas, perches, and nesting boxes.

Translation: These chickens are free to be chickens, whether they feel like roosting, scratching, or dust bathing. (Hey, whatever makes you happy, chicks!)

No (Image credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani)

Nellie’s small family farms all operate under the same high standards, handling animals gently to limit stress; providing fresh, pure water at all times; and feeding them nutritious, high-quality feed free of antibiotics or hormones.

All that TLC turns these healthy kitchen staples into something you can feel extra good about buying. And we think it makes them even more delicious, too.

This post is sponsored by Nellie’s Free Range Eggs and was created by the Kitchn Creative Studio.
Thank you for supporting the brands that make Kitchn possible.