More than just a trendy term at the supermarket, “free-range” embodies an ethical idea of raising animals in a humane, natural way where the animal is free to roam in open spaces during its life. “Cage-free” is an interchangeable term with “free-range.” Eggs are a common food item that is popularly trending into “free-range” territory. What are free range eggs? Basically they are the eggs are laid by hens that have at least a minimum access to grass and the ability to roam, and not stuffed in tight cages, unable to move their entire life. These moving, so-called free-ranging hens produce eggs that are dubbed “free range eggs.”
Some people buy free range eggs for a better tasting morning benedict. Other people don’t notice a difference in taste but purchase free range eggs to support businesses that sustainably oriented and are not factory farms where chickens are confided for life, abused and often de-beaked and purposely denied food, all for laying eggs for your meals.
Free-range eggs sourced from a local farmer or your own chickens offer an ethical, sustainable and more nutritious alternative to factory farm eggs. farm fresh 2020
Unfortunately the ‘free range’ label does not always equal the humane conditions that it indicates. Although the USDA has strictly regulated the “free-range chicken” meat label, when it comes to eggs, there is no oversight and companies take advantage of a label calling eggs “free-range” when in fact the chickens are not living in acceptable conditions.
So bear in mind, the term “free-range” for eggs is loosely governed and serious animal right violations can still occur to the chickens that you are paying premium for. Unless you have visited the factory or know someone who has, what you may be buying can truly be a farce and you are unwittingly paying more- for exactly what you don’t want.
The good news in all of this is that the concept of free-range truly and easily embodied by several methods. Small local farmers with chicken livestock can generate delicious true to form free-range eggs. The select few reputable egg farms, a CSA and by keeping your own hens are all options.
Raising chickens in your own backyard is relatively easy, yet you must be dedicated to their care. The benefits of pet chickens are multi-fold. Not only will you have a feathery and mobile insecticide and fertilizer roaming your garden, you’ll have more than enough eggs each morning and will likely be giving away the surplus to friends or neighbors. In fact, maybe you could even start your own free-range egg micro-business. Be sure to be aware of chicken predators even in your backyard (cats and hawks to name a few) and install protective fencing to keep your flock. -BEN TERRINGTON