This article was originally published in May 2015
PCC carries eggs raised a variety of ways — “cage-free,” “organic,” “omega-3” and “pastured.” (See What do egg labels mean? for details about these terms.) If the hens aren’t grazing on pasture, they’re given vegetarian feed. PCC’s high standards are rare: nationwide, only 6 percent of the 350 million egg-laying hens are cage-free.
For shoppers whose primary concern is price, we sell “cage-free” eggs from two local, family-owned farms: Stiebrs and Wilcox. Both companies say their cage-free eggs come from hens raised with enough room indoors “free to run, preen and socialize proudly.” Both are Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care.
Omega-3 eggs come from hens fed a diet rich in flax seed, which is high in omega-3 fats. Each egg provides an average of 250mg of omega-3s. Stiebrs offers organic. Wilcox offers non-organic.
Certified-organic eggs come from hens raised on certified-organic, non-GMO feed and guaranteed outdoor access, so they cost a bit more than “cage-free.” We sell both Stiebrs and Wilcox organic eggs at PCC.
Pasture-raised eggs are in high demand at PCC and we’re pleased we now have enough farm partnerships to sell them at all 10 stores, depending on seasonality. Some are certified organic and some aren’t, but all come from hens that roam outdoors, enjoying insects, grubs and grasses year -round, as nature intended.
The majority of pastured hens’ diet comes from what they find in the field, although supplemental feed is allowed.
Pastured eggs are more expensive (about 56 cents each, compared with 33 cents for cage-free and 42 cents for organic) — but still a bargain for high-quality protein. Research shows they offer exceptional benefits.
Compared with eggs from confined hens, eggs from pastured hens typically offer:
- 6 times more vitamin D
- 4 times more vitamin E
- 8 times more beta-carotene
- 3 times more omega-3 fatty acids
Pastured brands at PCC
Vital Farms — Vital Farms is a group of 52 family farms across six states. Each farm provides each hen with 108 square feet of pasture. The pastures never are treated with herbicides, pesticides or artificial fertilizers. The eggs are Certified Humane. Vital’s Pasture Verde eggs are certified organic. Its Alfresco eggs are non-organic. Available at all PCCs.
Misty Meadows Farm — Melissa and Mark Moeller’s farm in Everson, Wash., provides certified organic eggs from hens that spend their entire lives on pasture. They have shelter but spend most of their time outside. They eat a certified organic, soy-free, locally milled grain ration and all the bugs they can catch.
Misty Meadows was rated the top producer in Washington and one of the highest in the nation on humane animal husbandry standards as rated by The Cornucopia Institute. They’re available at all PCC stores.
Palouse Pastured Poultry — “Our birds eat grain we raised ourselves or local, organic grains we process; roam, graze and socialize on green grass in their very large, open and protective pen; and drink fresh, clean water from our artesian well,” say Allen and Emmy Widman of their small farm in Spokane County. Find their eggs at PCC’s Issaquah and Kirkland stores.
Little Eorthe Farm — In the Orting Valley near Tacoma sits Carrie and Ken Little’s diverse 35-acre, certified organic farm with pigs, sheep, alpacas, ducks, turkeys and crops. The farm is part of the larger Orting Valley Farms, a PCC Farmland Trust project since 2009. Little Eorthe’s 600 hens are free to roam acres of healthy pasture. See a video of PCC’s visit to the farm. You’ll find these eggs at our Seward Park and Issaquah stores.
Helen the Hen — Baron Farms in Wapato, Wash., is a 90-acre farm with 2,500 chickens that live in a giant, covered coop similar to a greenhouse, with access to pasture on both sides. The chickens mostly are out in the pasture first thing in the morning and at night, and inside mid-morning laying eggs. All the eggs are from hens fed a corn-free, soy-free, non-GMO feed. Find these eggs at all PCCs except Seward Park and View Ridge.
Duck eggs are thought to be richer than chicken eggs. They can be used the same ways as chicken eggs, but they boast a proportionally larger yolk than a chicken egg with a slightly higher fat content. Pastry chefs love duck eggs because the protein of the whites whips high and light and adds loft to baked goods. The dark golden-orange yolk imparts a creaminess and color to pastries, custards and ice cream.
PCC sells duck eggs from two local farms. Sky Valley Farm provides pasture-based duck eggs from ducks raised on certified organic fields. Its six-pack of eggs is certified organic, but the carton of a dozen is not. Stiebrs Farms sells non-organic duck eggs under the Farmer Jon Valley Pride label.
Q: Is the cholesterol in eggs bad for health?
A: Not eggs-actly. Dietary cholesterol is not the primary influence on our blood cholesterol levels.
Our blood cholesterol goes up more when we eat foods rich in saturated and trans fats, especially when we skip olive oil, nuts and other rich sources of healthier monounsaturated fats.
Research finds that regular egg-eaters (2 eggs per day) have normal cholesterol levels. PCC’s nutrition educators advocate eating the whole egg to get the whole nutritional package. That’s because yolks contain an egg’s vitamin A, D, E, choline and omega-3s, as well as the cholesterol. Egg whites contain protein but no additional nutrients.