Organic eggs or conventional eggs? The difference in price is obvious. But what about quality; are the organic eggs better for your kids? Let’s leave aside environmental issues, hens’ better life, and flavour, too, because it’s subjective and variable. Let’s consider two main aspects: better nutrition and less harm (in the form of fewer contaminants and pathogens) and see what researchers say.
- The nutritional composition of organic and conventional eggs appears to be similar. Some studies indicate that the fatty acid profile may be more favorable in organic eggs, but the difference is not consistent. Eggs high in Omega-3 are generally labeled; and the Omega-3 levels of either organic or regular eggs are affected by the hens’ diet. It is clear that hens fed an omega-3 enriched diets lay eggs that are much higher in Omega-3.There is no difference in nutritional benefits between brown and white eggs. In fact, the eggs’ colour is purely depends on the genetics of the chicken. However, the egg yolk colour can be an indicator of the egg’s nutrition value: a darker yolk is richer in xanthophyll and omega-3 fatty acids.
- There is no evidence that the cholesterol content in organic eggs is lower than in regular eggs.
- Contamination with Salmonella and other food-poisoning micro-organisms is not consistently different between organic eggs and regular eggs (actually, it may be higher in organic eggs). Salmonella causes illnesses such as typhoid fever, paratyphoid fever, and food poisoning (salmonellosis) and can be found worldwide in both cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals and in the environment.
- Little or no contamination of regular eggs with chemical residues has been reported because all commercial poultry – free-range, barn or caged – are fed diets free of antibiotics. Neither organic nor conventional eggs contain antibiotics. By law, every load of organic and regular eggs is tested for veterinary drugs by trained inspectors: any load that tests positive is pulled out of the food supply. However, contaminated soils can contribute to chemical residues in the eggs of hens allowed to range outdoors.
“Free Range” does not mean “Organic”
It is a deceiving term that can make you think the chickens can roam free on grassy yards. But the truth is that the chickens only have some exposure to the outdoors in a portion of their life. “Cage free” also doesn’t mean that the hens have access to the outdoors: they are kept inside with artificial lighting on a concrete floor.
On the other hand, chickens are not designed to be vegetarians: they do eat “meat” – bugs and worms. The vegetarian-based commercial diet is not right for them. So, the only way to get truly organic eggs is to buy locally from a farmer you know and trust, not organic eggs from the supermarket.
Bottom line: The choice is yours. But remember that there is no evidence that organic eggs are better than regular.