The Story of a (Pastured) Egg

Pastured Eggs

I think it’s fair to say that I’m not a proselytizer. I don’t cram sustainability concepts, politics, or ideologies down anyone’s throat. Quite the contrary. I’m heinous at dinner parties. The minute I see someone starting to climb up on a soapbox of any kind, I look for the nearest bottle of Scotch (of which there are usually many) and a pack of matches. A little immolation always brightens up a dull evening out here in Connecticut.

Then this past weekend I attended the annual conference of The International Association of Culinary Professionals in Chicago. One of the keynote speakers was goat farmer, filmmaker, photographer, and writer Douglas Gayeton, who along with his wife, Laura Howard-Gayeton, founded The Lexicon of Sustainability. His message was about how words can influence, cajole, move, and ultimately change a person’s behavior. Having worked for The Dark Side (aka advertising) for more than 18 years, I know firsthand how true this is. I sat rapt, listening to Douglas speak, adoring his deeply affecting photography, and watching—and, I admit, sometimes wincing at—his films.

The one short film that I found extraordinarily powerful is “The Story of an Egg,” because it honors what is, for most of us, a fridge staple. For years I’ve heard stories of the conditions laying hens are subjected to, but I didn’t want to be exposed to it. Ignorance is life’s barbiturate is how I looked at things. The One and I still did our part. We prided ourselves on going from buying generic eggs to consciously choosing first cage-free eggs and, more recently, free-range eggs. We considered ourselves progressive—superior, even. We were part of the army of well-intentioned consumers doing the right thing, smiling our members-of-the-club smiles at affluent dinner parties. Having known how advertising co-opts legitimate terms and converts them into fuel that runs the moneymaking machines of huge corporations, though, I should have been suspicious. But, like Donna Reed, I was content to love my man, make our gut-busting breakfasts, and clutch my faux pearls while looking down demurely when someone complimented my cooking.

Gayeton’s message, and the message of the farmers in his film, is that humanely, economically, and ecologically sustainable eggs come from chickens found in pastures—and no place else. Here they live outdoors, pecking at bugs, seeds, worms, and other gnarly things of their choosing. The uncorrupted term is “pastured eggs.” Cage-free eggs, the film demonstrated, were produced by chickens who, rather than being stuffed into small mesh cages with so many other birds that they couldn’t turn around (or, in some cases, not even touch the bottom of the cage), were lucky enough to be crammed into a huge pen filled with hundreds of their brethren, pecking and walking though mud and excrement. Free-range, which sounds so wonderful—so American it could be part of our Constitution—simply means thousands of factory chickens are offered a single door to an outside cage the size of most people’s mudrooms. Yee-haw! 

I was so affected by this that the day after I arrived home, I sent out an all points bulletin on Twitter asking for information about local farms that raise pastured chickens and eggs.

Pastured Eggs Twitter

My assistant, Annie, and I scoured the Internet. I made a few phone calls to local chefs. In the summer, The One and I usually ride up to Toplands Farm, where at the end of a meandering dusty drive is a red cooler containing a mishmash of reused cardboard cartons filled with fresh eggs. A splintered honor-system cashbox sits nearby. I always assumed these eggs were the real deal, as their yolks are the color of the original orange Crayola crayons, not that “sun-burnished wheat” hue found in eggs languishing in supermarket coolers. Now that I know better, I need to investigate further.

Color of Yolks

I know what you’re thinking. First: Damn, dude, what’s taken you so long? (All I can do is quote my old shrink: “Denial works.”) And second: Pastured eggs, chicken, and beef cost a fortune. In some places, they cost triple the amount of food that comes out of those chambers of horror that feed so much of America. If you can’t afford pastured eggs, no problem. You need to feed, clothe, educate, and provide for your family how you see fit. And if that doesn’t include pastured eggs, so be it. But for those of us who can afford pastured eggs and meats, I say, let’s do it. Let’s search out those farms, roadside stands, greenmarkets, stores, and online resources that sell true, honest, pastured food.

To that end, please use the comments section to tell me what venues you buy your pastured eggs from. It doesn’t matter where you live. It doesn’t matter how frequently—or infrequently—you buy eggs. What matters is that readers have a list of resources to turn to when they need it.

Now, anyone have some Scotch and matches? You may commence lighting my soapbox on fire.

David Leite's signature



  1. Your article has been one of the best I have read. I have soap boxes and often jump on them with out thought to those around me. I will keep the Scotch and matches close by.

    We raise our own chickens and sell eggs to friends and co-workers. We have two farmers market where great eggs and meat can be purchased. Wichita’s Old Town Farmer’s Market and Kansas Own Market. Both in Kansas.

  2. For those in the Seattle area, PCC Natural Markets (local co-op/grocer) carries local pastured eggs and chickens, as well as locally sourced animal products and organic fruit and veggies. They are always happy to let you try a product for free and are helpful and knowledgeable. And for everyone out there, has a database of local CSAs and local meat/dairy sources; their list is not all-inclusive (my favorite local scottish highlands grass-fed beef supplier isn’t there) but they do have many farms listed.

  3. I live in a small town in rural WV. I buy my eggs at (are you ready?) at the local marble and glass store, which sells them for a lady who raises hens in her “backyard.” We’re too country out here to call it pasture lol. I pay $2.50/dozen and I use them for everything. Folks in WV can find pastured eggs in their area by using and entering “eggs” in the “find a product” box.

  4. Hi David,
    We live in Concord, MA where there are still some local farms that sell pastured eggs. I buy mine at Codman Farms in nearby Lincoln where you can see the chickens running about. Codman Farms, BTW is the former family estate of Ogden Codman Jr. the famous interior designer and co-author with Edith Wharton on a book of the same subject. The house is now part of Historic New England where one can tour the farm and/or the house.

  5. Hi, David. Aside from how and where milk is produced, it is a pretty weird food for us to eat. What other animal eats the mammary secretions of another animal? Don’t you think this is strange? We’ve all been brainwashed by the Dairy Council telling us milk is a necessity, is a health food, builds strong bones, etc. etc. This is all mularky and propaganda. Leading pediatricians (including Dr. Spock, in his day) teach that mother’s milk is nutricious and necessary, but not past the age of 2. OTHER mothers’ milk is neither. Milk creates allergies, gastrointestinal problems, and osteoporosis. Yes, osteoporosis. It is true that mild contains a lot of calcium, but the large amount of protein in milk causes a net calcium LOSS by leaching more calcium out of bones than the calcium it contains. Certain vegetables are the best sources of calcium. Vit. D can be obtained in many other ways besides milk. Actually, milk contains nothing of nutritional value for humans. And if one is truly “addicted” to milk, there are other products, like “milk” (bad name) from soy, rice, and almonds.

    1. I’ve thought that it was weird at times too but the concept must be old – for someone to have come up with the Romulus and Remus myth.

      1. Hi David Actually, the Roman Empire is fairly recent in terms of human history. By then, the development of animal abuse was quite entrenched in human societies (witness the “games” of animal killing, replaced in modern times by Spanish bullfighting.) It really began 9-10 thousand years ago with the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals. With agriculture came our first hierarchical view of living things….that is, that animals were interior to us humans and deserved to be enslaved. Since them history has consisted of more and more and “better and better” techniques of animal enslavement, which led to the enslavement of others: indigenous peoples, blacks, women, Jews, Armenians, homosexuals, and on and on. Animal enslavement was the first, and taught us how to do it to other “inferior” groups. Now hierarchies and genocides are quite commonplace. So, by the time of the Roman Empire, milk drinking was probably the norm, and humans were probably making money on it….and destroying peoples’ health….just as they do now. And just as now, when milk is commonly thought of as “good for you,” the same delusion was probably in place back in Ancient Rome. Ergo the Romulus and Remus myth, which you insightfully point out. Milk, despite its health hazards, still has its benign reputation: “The milk of human kindness.” “The land of milk and honey,” Old misconceptions die hard.

  6. But David, you’re being thoughtful about it, which the vast majority of people are not…..they simply do what they have always done, or what their parents did. People should emulate your thoughtfulness and practice it….who knows where it will lead them. It has led you to eating pastured eggs and meat, which is a more humane way of living. And, who knows, you may change your notion of “you” and move on to a more plant-based diet. And even if you don’t, you are influencing many people to rethink their diets and convert to one, as you have, that is more in keeping with animals’ health, human health, and the health of the planet.

  7. I believe that so long as chickens are bred to be eaten or to have their eggs stolen to be eaten, there will be corruption. This is because it is driven by the profit motive (which I am not against), and the profit motive will draw psychopathic individuals who will corr[upt anything they touch. The only answer is to totally eliminate the business of eating animals or their products, and, therefore, killing animals. If animals are raised to be ultimately killed, it is real easy to rationalize anything in their care (“they’re going to be killed anyway”). If they’re going to be killed, why not make a buck on it? And, then, why not make more than a buck by capitalizing on the notion of “humane killing” (an oxymoron) but introduce many questionable practices. To eliminate corruption, it is an all or none thing…no killing of animals.

  8. I became one in stages. First, I ate fish for 1 year. Then I was vegetarian (not vegan) for 4 years. Now I have been vegan for 24 years, and it is a lifestyle I love. I feel that every choice I make in food, clothing, cosmetics, entertainment, etc. is a statement for Schweitzer’s Reverence for Life. It is a nonviolent lifestyle, and violence is killing the planet and the people on it. Violence has been a way of life for humans (the most violent animal on Earth) 10,000 or so years with the birth of agriculture. At exactly the same time, the first hierarchy was launched, with animal being the target of slavery. Since then we have managed to enslave every species, every race, every religion, every culture. If violence is hard wired in us, then it has to be fought. Veganism is the best way to fight it. Also, I believe, being vegan, and not having blood on your hands, allows you to be more intuitive and in touch. Whatever you do in life, you do better. Sweden is 10% vegetarian. That approaches the 12% that is necessary for the beginnings of a paradigm shift. Here in our country, new vegan restaurants are opening with lines around the block. It IS the wave of the future. The earlier one joins the enlightened few, the better. But I truly respect your move into pastured meat and eggs. Others should follow your lead. Even if it is the end, and not a way station toward the end of veganism, it is still a significant and worthy change.

  9. I get my pastured eggs from Springfield Farm in Sparks, Maryland. Their eggs are also sold at a few local farmer’s markets and Atwater’s Market. Definitely worth the price and special shopping trip!

  10. Hi Dave, my daughter buys her pastured eggs at the Ramsey’s farmers market here in New Jersey. She pays about 3 or 4 dollars a dozen, they are always sold out in no time.

  11. Southtown Farms, 1010 Ramapo Valley Rd, Mahwah, NJ (Bergen County). I get my eggs, chickens and most recently pork from Matt at Southtown. Matt is a young farmer and a Veteran of the Iraqi war; he along with his wife run the farm. I so enjoy visiting the farm and seeing the chickens run freely.

  12. There are quite a few places around Kansas City that raise pastured eggs, heritage turkeys and other culinary delights. Just another reason to visit The Land of Ahhhhs.

  13. My son, Barry Labendz, is one of the owners of a sustainable farm, Camps Road Farm, in Kent, CT. They have pastured eggs that they sell locally as well as through Good Eggs, NY. All their produce is organic AND come summer, they will have finished construction on their BREWERY for craft beers. The used hops will feed the chicks, the sheep will prune the bottom parts of the hops poles, with every happy animal fertilizing the land. They have many more aspects to the sustainability of the farm but I don’t want to get the details wrong. If you want more information you can contact him, or Google the Litchfield Times and look up the artice on Camps Road Farms.

  14. A view from the other side.

    I grew up on backyard eggs so I do know better. But I ‘m going to have to stick with denial. Buying hormone and antibiotic free milk that costs 2 to 3 times more is a stretch for the average family. It is not just about choice but a real sacrifice, a what do I put back kind of sacrifice, particularly at the rate a gallon disappears in a house with young kids. We just hope it pays off in long term health benefits. But pastured eggs at $4-$9 a dozen? Yeah, not going to happen. So until we reform, by law or regulation conditions on chicken farms, denial it is.

    1. Anne S., as I said, everyone has to find that line over which they don’t feel comfortable crossing. You have to do what works for you and your family,and I don’t judge. We don’t have kids, and I’m truly blessed to be able to afford pastured food. I don’t know what I would do if I were in different circumstances.

      What really hit me while watching this and other videos from the Lexicon of Sustainability is how we treat animals. I was horrified to discover baby male chicks are simply ground up alive for feed. I don’t think I could become vegan or even vegetarian, but I just don’t feel “right” buying products from farms that inhumanely raise and dispatch animals. I’m starting to get a lists of sources. My friend Joel Viehland, who’s a great local chef in at Community Table, in Litchfield, CT, is connecting me with farmers who raise truly pastured meats–pigs that are allowed to forage their whole lives in the woods, etc. And he’s teaching me to forage. This won’t be a fast or easy process. And I suspect I’ll even adopt that Meatless Monday approach–something I mocked just a few years ago–which is a great way for budget-minded families to stretch their dollars.

    2. Anne S., you are penny-wise and pound-foolish. Your savings from buying eggs laid by chickens laced with chemicals, in poor health due to living in unmitigated stressful conditions, will, in the long-run, cost you much more than you would save by buying eggs from healthy hens. And, since there could be NO health care insurance in the future, you would have to pay out of pocket sums astronomically greater than what you would be paying for eggs laid by chickens raised in natural, humane, and healthy conditions. And THAT expense says nothing about the emotional and spiritual expense you incur by contributing to brutality and abuse. I am vegan, so I eschew eggs of any kind as representing non-adherence to a compassionate and non-abusive lifestyle, but still I welcome David’s decision to only eat pastured eggs and meat. Whereas this decision falls short of true veganism, which, in my opinion, is the only way the world will survive, it is a major and brave step in the right direction. Everyone should watch “The Story of an Egg.” It clearly lays out the facts and gives people the information they need to make an intelligent choice. Thank you, David, for being a beacon of light for those who realize that our eating habits have to change if we are to survive.

      1. Murry, I’m not sure I could become vegan or vegetarian, but there have been times in my life that I’ve considered it. Several years ago, I figured that if I eat meat, I should at least be part of the raising and slaughtering of an animal. It’s my responsibility at a meat eater. I chose a farm that raises only pastured poultry, and I chose to raise a turkey for the holidays. The farmer cared deeply about his animals, spent time with them every day, and personally dispatched them. The grief I felt driving home with the cleaned and dressed bird in my truck was immense. But what was even more immense was the sense of responsibility I felt NOT to mess up that meal. I finally understood how that animal’s life was taken so we could eat. I don’t think I was ever more nervous or more desperate not to overcook the bird. And we haven’t said grace in decades in our home, but I did that day because there was a incredible sense of thankfulness for the food we were about to eat.

  15. I am so touched by this article. I haven’t seen “The Story of an Egg” yet but it sounds like something everybody should see. As an animal advocate I learn from your reaction that we have to do a better job of getting those kinds of films out there because they have a real effect on compassionate people. I have pet turkeys, rescued from Thanksgiving, who are an absolute joy to have around. They live in the garden and sleep in a converted shed. I bet if you do adopt hens for their eggs you will be delighted by them, not just by the eggs. I don’t know where you are in the country but Animal Place, in Grass Valley California, is currently looking for homes for thousands of hens saved from a battery farm. Many of them were airlifted to Catskill Animal Sanctuary in New York (there was a New York Times story on it) so if you are driving distance from either place you might be in luck.

    I wonder if in the future, the new products coming from Hampton Creek Foods, a company in which Bill Gates invests, will appeal to you. I have not yet tasted their “Beyond Eggs” but their “Just Mayo,” entirely plant based, is delicious and has been widely taste tested and found to be indistinguishable from mayonnaise made with eggs. Here’s a video of a tour of the factory, which includes cookies being taste tested by the reporter.

    It is so cool that you were affected by “The Story of an Egg” and actively started seeking a way to make changes. May I recommend you rent Forks Over Knives, a super fun film on dietary health that features interviews with the leading doctors who changed Bill Clinton’s eating habits? If you watch it you’ll view Beyond Eggs in a whole different light.

    Again, thank you for caring and for the changes you are already making to help make the world kinder.

    1. Karen, so good to have you over here at LC. (BTW, everyone, Karen is the author of “Thanking the Monkey.”)

      Yes, I was deeply affected by the film, and others of theirs that I watched. I don’t see me moving to an all-plant-based diet. I don’t think that’s me. But eating consciously, shopping at what I call Mindful Markets, and making sure the food I eat comes from farmers that humanely and lovingly raise and dispatch their animals is a start.

      But it’s such a balancing act: Do I drive more than twice as far for pastured eggs and meats (which means a bigger carbon footprint) rather than driving to the local store (which means buying eggs that come from abused hens)? For me, the answer is yes. The better answer is that awareness rises to such a degree that my local store is as mindful as the health food store, where I shop a lot of the time.

      BTW, I do have an egg-free “mayonnaise,” called milk mayonnaise or maionese de leite, which is a milk-based sauce from my cookbook. not all plant based, but a good start for people who want to eschew eggs.

      1. I chuckled to myself when you mentioned the milk-based mayonnaise, thinking we better let this lovely man absorb what he saw in the egg film a little longer before we get him to watch the dairy videos. You’ll need a strong stomach.

        I respect your feeling that you don’t see yourself moving to an all plant-based diet but I think the more plant-based choices you make the better you will feel on many fronts. I was touched by your description of the grief you felt driving home with a newly killed turkey in your truck (turkeys are such cool animals) and I get the feeling that part of your psyche would prefer not to be eating animals, which is a common feeling, but I can tell that the idea of leaving animal products off the plate entirely feels like too momentous a change — another common and completely understandable feeling. But nobody here is saying it has to be all or nothing. I actually went vegan over a period of years with no particular intention to do so. I just kept making more and more veggie choices. I do hope you’ll check out Forks Over Knives, which is on Netflix, which really is thoroughly enjoyable and will no doubt make you want to raise the number of vegan recipes on your site from 200 (so great) to 300! It will also teach you some things about casein, one of the proteins in milk, which you might prefer not to know but that it’s better if you do if you want to lead a long cancer free life, which we all want for you.
        Thanks for the shout out re Thanking the Monkey! Do you have a copy? If not it would sure be my pleasure to send one your way.
        Thanks again for your heartfelt blog and the efforts you are making on behalf of the animals.

        1. Karen, I definitely know about dairy abuse and the treatment of veal, which I rarely, rarely eat. What’s good is we get a lot (not all) of our milk from a local farm that treats their cows very well. Growing up I drank a lot of milk, and I knew all the cows that produced that milk, as I played in the pastures where they grazed. I even helped Mr. Lawton, our milkman, milk them sometimes. Nowadays, I still love milk but am pretty good about where I buy it.

          I’d love a copy of your book. I’ll email you the address.

          1. David, if you feel like exploring non dairy milks, Silk’s almond vanilla (not the unsweetened one) tastes about ten times better than many–truly rich and delicious. And it’s next to the cows’ milk in many supermarkets. The Wholefoods brand of almond vanilla, in the refrigerator section, is good too (it may be Silk repackaged). I had friend who thought he’d never give up his cows milk morning lattes till he tried it.

            I’ve been checking my email for your address! The best way to send me an email that I will definitely get is through the contact page at I look forward to putting a book in the mail today. Thank you so much for your interest!

              1. Rice “milk” is also very good. It comes unflavored with with vanilla flavor. It’s also made into “ice cream” called Rice Dream.

  16. I can tell you that pastured is not free from corruption. I went to a local farm in SC that sells pastured eggs. What I saw by going to the farm was 200 hundred chickens in a hoop tent in a pasture. They were moved from day to day but were not free ranging. I have since gotten coop myself and 3 hens. They free range in my yard and eat organic foods, garden scraps, clover, grass and bugs. My garden is nearly bug free now so my organic veggies happier too. If you want great eggs you must do it yourself. The folks you had in the video are rare.

    1. Betty, that’s the sad fact: There will always be folks who push the envelope, trying to put one over on folks. Yes, by definition, those eggs and chickens would indeed be “pastured.” But the crowding, disease, and stress more than negates any positive benefits. But from what I’m seeing from folks commenting here, and from what I’m seeing up here in CT, there are farmers who do offer unfettered pasturing to their poultry. Acres and acres.

      And…I do admire you for having your our birds. How I so want to do that.

      1. Go for it. It is much easier than I ever thought. Set it up with feeders and watering and you can leave for vacation. Just get that neighbor you have been giving free eggs to the right to take all while you are gone. Keeps all happy!

  17. Thank you so very much for this brave and informative article. I have been a long-time reader of Leite’s Culinaria and enjoy them very much, even tho some of the offerings are not entirely in sync with my own lifestyle as a vegetarian/mostly vegan. I do appreciate the occasional offerings you include that are for vegans. The only eggs I ever eat are from friends who have land and pastured chickens who have been rescued from really bad situations… but I don’t eat eggs when not available from these particular chickens. Even those local sources for pastured eggs where the chickens all have names and are treated as beloved pets are problematic for me, because of their usual sourcing from large breeding establishments. Since the male chicks are not useful to the egg industry, they are routinely thrown on a heap and ground up, often alive if not already suffocated, for animal feed. In addition, baby chicks routinely have the tips of their beaks painfully seared off without anesthesia so that they cannot harm each other in the overcrowded conditions most are headed for. I consider these practices too cruel to participate in, and, therefore, will not consume eggs from chickens that might originate from these industrial breeders, even tho they have found a much better life in friendly pastures.

    That said, I am very appreciative of your article, and I am sure that it will go, a long way to make for a more humane and compassionate world.

    1. Batya, thank you for your comment. For the record we do have more than 200 recipes on the site that are vegan.

      It’s my understanding, and anyone please correct me if I’m wrong, that farmers who raise truly pastured chickens are purchasing them like mined sources.

  18. HEB! It’s a major supermarket chain here in Texas. They carry pastured eggs from Vital Farms. I just Googled them and learned they supply pastured eggs to Whole Foods, too. Apparently they’re becoming a big business. Usually there are only a couple of cartons left, but this weekend I saw double shelf space and stock. I take this as a sign that the demand is growing.

    1. Hey, Ren, thanks a lot for the sources. I hope our Texas readers take note. I also hope that we get a WholeFoods up here in CT, where I spend most of my time. It would be a huge boom for the economy. (I rarely shop COSTCO these days–mostly for dry goods.)

  19. Hello David, I enjoyed reading today’s article and your interesting and very informative blog. I’m originally from Chicago and live in France (40 years next month). My (French) husband and I have a long time habit of reading labels when we shop and asking questions when we need to know more. Our supermarkets and open markets supply produce, meats, etc. that are grown and raised locally (as it is with every region in France; I’m in the Paris region). We take the time to read labels and have been buying pastured eggs, produce and other foods for years. Here in France all fresh produce suppliers and manufacturers of foods and processed products are required by law to list in detail the origins (where they come from and/or are grown) of the products they sell. This also includes how and what the produce and animals were grown or fed with (organic, in/outdoors, types of seeds, etc.), and most important, whether genetically modified or not. With this information at hand we are assured our favorite foods are pastured and good for our health. Continue your good work!

    1. amazone779, sadly our government is too driven by powerful lobbies. Change is happening, though, and will continue to happen, thankfully.

      But I do see is a great difference between the average French and American consumer (and I include myself in the later group): Culturally the French put a very high value on food. I don’t mean price, but value. Good, healthy, sustainable food is important to them. We American have learned to eat crap because that’s what big business wants us to eat, so they make it cheap and addictive.

      We always rent an apartment in the 8th arrondissement when we visit Paris, and it’s a tradition to visit the food market on Rue Poncelet. (What’s wonderful is it’s not unique–just one of hundreds of markets in the city). The food is terrific. Not cheap, granted, but it’s all so carefully grown and prepared. On the other hand, when I walk into the local Stop & Shop or ShopRite here in CT I become so depressed. I’ve long ago weaned myself off of shopping the aisles and only shop the perimeter of the stores (produce, meats, fish, dairy). But it’s so sterile.

      Luckily there’s a “mindful market” in Woodbury, CT called Morning Glory. I shop there often for organic, pastured products (before I knew the difference between “free-range” and “pastured”).

      I have a lot of changes to make in my diet and eating habits. Thanks for the encouragement.

  20. We’re retired and not wealthy by any means. I’m a very frugal shopper for every thing. Pastured eggs are one of my splurges. We just bought a medium size chest freezer and the next two splurges are going to be local lamb and goat.

  21. You raise the current conundrum for folks who shop for groceries and are passionate about their food–pay more for better quality, nutrition, sustainability and cruelty-free etc. OR…pay your rent or mortgage.

    Of course, it’s all about affordability, the one hitch that all this natural, small-farm product due to their size can’t allow for–unless you’re pretty well-heeled in a 4BR, 3bath 3k sq FT home in the Hamptons or wherever.

    Point is, I might buy these $1/egg puppies for home use to watch my cholesterol intake, but if I’m planning a big baking stint where I need a couple of dozen eggs, spending $18 for two dozen eggs vs $3.95 for 18, you can guess which way I’ll turn.

    As for later upon retirement, I hope to have a few chickens around as well as ducks and goats to provide eggs and such, as I recognize the concerns of advocates for poultry-raising conditions. But they don’t have my budgetary concerns or life. And I would raise my own simply to avoid paying too much money from vendors as well as knowing that I’m raising happy chickens.

    1. dontcallmeachef, you’re right. As I said in the post: no judgment. Everyone draws a line in the sand about these kind of topics, and that line moves, as life’s circumstances move. I never could have afforded $9.00 for a dozen eggs when I was a poor college student. (Nor could have I afforded it when I went through my Decade of Debt in my ’40s if it weren’t for The One.) But, for me, I find knowing about the topic–something I fiercely avoided–useful.

  22. I keep a few hens for organic eggs (and general entertainment), and haven’t bought an egg in years. Last winter (not the one we are having now, STILL) during a long moult, I had no eggs at all for a couple of months but still couldn’t bring myself to buy eggs, even from a farmers market. Not judging anyone else’s decision!! Just feel better knowing where my food is coming from and what went into it, as much as possible.

      1. That was the first time I haven’t had hens lay right through the winter! Just happened to be all older birds. Those same hens also took this winter off, while a younger hen presented my with an egg every single morning. :)

  23. I get my pastured eggs from a coworker who lives on a small hobby farm. Sorry to report she only has enough for our office (we take turns; it’s all worked out quite democratically). I am investigating a zoning variance so I can have a few hens of my own. I have half an acre which should be enough for 3-4 laying hens. Many cities have loosened ordinances so people can have backyard chickens. A short fence keeps them from straying too far. Bonus: fewer insects in your garden!

  24. Totally. And I get such a kick out of opening the carton and seeing all the different shapes and sizes.

  25. David, thanks for this post. I saw the buzz on Twitter during IACP so I appreciate you writing about this and linking to the video.

    You prompted me to do an internet search of my own for pastured eggs in Toronto and I found this company who seem to be doing a wonderful job (also there’s a great section with definitions of all the different types of eggs at the bottom of the page)

    NutriSpring Farms (though I don’t see anywhere close to me that sells them, sadly), and here’s a great piece talking about common egg brands you can buy in Toronto.

    I’m pleased to see that even with my limited knowledge of the matter, I am already making the better choices (but now I will definitely be on the hunt for pastured eggs!)

    All that being said, I’m excited to receive eggs from my friend’s farm tonight when she comes over for dinner :)

    Thanks for raising awareness with this piece David.

  26. Egg snob, c’est moi! My husband raises chickens and one reason the cost is so high is that it is SO difficult to keep hawks, possums, raccoon, coyotes, foxes, dogs, rats, and snakes away from these tender creatures. Our chicken yard is like Fort Knox and every egg is a golden one. But oh! so worth the trouble.

  27. I have a 100 acre farm, chickens, ducks, geese, cows, pigs and vegetables. Our CSA sells all naturally raised vegetables and fruits. We sell the eggs for $4 a dozen. The taste is amazing!

  28. I also have my own chickens *35 in all* and they are spoiled rotten! I feed almost all organic feeds and veggies, fruits and sell eggs for 3.00 a dozen, but give a whole lot of them away when they are laying more than I can sell. Everyone should read how the store bought “cage-free” are really raised!

    When I hear people say there is no difference in store-bought and farm-raised eggs, I am thrilled to give them a dozen eggs and then ask them afterward again what they think. They ALWAYS remark how they can’t believe what a difference in taste there is and how much better the hand-raised chicken eggs are. I’ve only had one person in 9 years tell me that my eggs were too “egg-y” for her, and she liked the store-bought ones better.
    My older girls are over 7 years old and only lay very occasionally, but they have earned their “retirement” and will be taken care of until their last day on earth. They all have been a joy to have and watch through the years.

    1. Bless your heart, Randi, and I mean that in the best possible, non-ironic way. It’s a dream of mine to have chickens, but we’re not set up for it yet. And I got a big chuckle out of “too egg-y.” Jeesh.

  29. I’m fortunate to live in a town in Rochester, NY. Within three miles of my house there is a year-round Sunday farmer’s market (the Brighton Farmers Market) where a handful of farmers bring pastured chicken eggs, and one farmer brings duck eggs. And, if I may say; few things are as sublime as an egg that was laid that day or the day before, then fried or poached, and set atop a batch of sauteed greens with garlic and parmesan or harissa.

  30. I’ve been buying pastured eggs as much as possible ever since I joined a CSA and took the egg membership along with the fruit and vegetable share. I saved those precious farm eggs for things like poached or boiled eggs–when I could really taste them–until I ran out of the cheap Trader Joe’s eggs and needed to bake a cake. So there went my $7/dozen eggs into the mixer. To my utter surprise, what came out of the oven took me straight back to my childhood. “It tastes just like the cake Grandma Bourke made when I was little. I can’t believe this.” Now my husband is happy to eat–and pay for–the pastured eggs. They do make a difference, and even he can taste it.

  31. I get my free range eggs from a fellow out here in Cookeville TN. I pay $1.75 a dozen and get about four dozen every month roughly. I’m not a big egg eater, but I do use them for cooking, and add them hard boiled to my dog’s food when I make that. Seeing those beautiful orange yolks are something to behold after having been raised on the store bought variety.

  32. Usually when I hear any of the food Nazi’s buzz words I tune out but I’m totally with you on the eggs. When I lived in Key West the chickens wandered around town freely and I remember one lady saying she used the eggs to make an angel food cake and it turned out orange. The island is only two miles by four miles but the chickens have full reign. Now that’s pastured.

    1. I hear you about food Nazis. I wanna get all PETA on them. But I think taking small steps like this–pastured eggs–and making sure we’re eating animals that have been humanely treated and dispatched is a good thing.

  33. I purchase eggs from Stone River Market here in Smyrna, TN. We are just outside Nashville. It is an online market that several local farmers belong to and we are so fortunate to get pastured eggs, local meats, veggies, etc. Some of the restaurants in Nashville that use the farm to table concept use the same farms for meats and eggs. There is also the Nashville Farmers Market in Nashville, and the Franklin Farmer’s Market in Franklin, TN. Thank you for this article that will be an eye-opener for many. I use buy free-range and cage-free eggs also until I found out what those terms could really mean.

    1. Catherine, thank you for adding your local source to our list. I hope it helps anyone in the Reno area. And I think everyone should read the lately descriptions in the PDF you supplied. It’s very informative.

  34. I love this! After learning about the horrible conditions laying hens lived in, I went out and got some girls of my own. They run all over the place and eat everything in sight! I have more eggs than I know what to do with, but I love knowing I have happy chickens that will never know what it’s like to live in a cage!

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