“These eggs are really expensive, I can get eggs at Aldi for much less!” That is something I have heard twice in the last couple of weeks!
My son has decided to sell some of our eggs on the weekend, which is fine by me, we are getting 10-12 eggs a day and I have been giving some away because we have so many. As he was sitting there an older lady stopped and asked to see the eggs and if they are from free range hens. My son said no they are not, because technically our hens are not free range. Then the lady proceeded to tell him that the eggs were overpriced because she could get eggs at Aldi for half price. Well lady, I am about to explain why our eggs are “overpriced” (quotation marks because they are NOT overpriced!).
We house our chickens in electric poultry netting that we can move whenever we need to, so I guess they are semi-free range. That being said, they are able to eat about the same food as free range hens, but they are protected from predators and don’t get into my vegetable garden.
So why not just buy free range eggs from the grocery store?
How the term free range on egg packages is defined depends on which country you are in. According to the USDA free range means that “Producers must demonstrate to the Agency that the poultry has been allowed access to the outside.” Which basically means the door is open so they can go outside. They don’t have to actually go outside though, they just have to have the possibility to go outside. And the outside area does not need to have vegetation on it, it could just be concrete. These “free range” chickens are fed the same feed as the cage free chickens and are still administered antibiotics and other drugs.
In Europe the free range chickens have the same amount of room as cage free chickens inside of the barn (9 birds per square meter) and an additional 4 square meters per hen outside. The hens must have access to the outside during the day and the outside area should be mainly covered in vegetation. The barn should have several access points to the outside, providing at least 2 m of opening for ever 1000 birds.
The thing is, you don’t even know if these free range chickens go outside. They don’t actually have to have access to an outside area until they start laying, which is around 18 weeks. So they are not raised outside, they are raised the same way as laying hens that would never see the light of day. So when they finally get to the laying hen house they have no idea what outside is, and it is kind of scary. I might drive by a free range chicken farm and see some birds outside, maybe even a hundred. But if there are 5000 chickens in that hen house and only 100 chickens actually go outside then most eggs are not any different from the eggs of cage free hens.
I know my every one of my chickens goes outside every day, because I do not have 5000 chickens, I have 20 chickens, and I know every single one of them. I love my chickens and I want the best for them, and because of that I move their fence whenever I feel like they need fresh pasture. And it is for the same reason that I keep my chickens inside this fence, I love them and I do not want them to get eaten by a predator looking for an easy meal.
I buy chickenfeed by the bag, not by the truckload, so I pay more than a farmer does. I also do not opt for the cheapest feed, I buy them healthy feed, though it may cost me more. And I give my chickens snacks, because my chickens love snacks! Snacks may include leftovers from our kitchen, or even fresh fruits and vegetables.
Eggs take a while to get from the hen house to the grocery store, by the time someone buys them they could be 2 weeks old. I sell eggs that were laid yesterday, or the day before but no older! So they are actually fresh! I write the date on the eggs whenever I gather them (I do this for myself so we use the oldest eggs first), so when someone buys my eggs they know exactly how old they are.
And last, but not least, eggs from my chickens taste awesome! If you have ever had a farm fresh egg from chickens that are outside daily, you know what I am talking about. Our eggs have a beautiful orange yolk, with so much flavor! Once you eat a farm fresh egg you will never want to eat a grocery store egg again!
So, yes, eggs you buy at Aldi are much cheaper, but then again, you get what you pay for!
I found this great inforgraphic that explains everything you need to know about eggs!
In this infographic “Everything You Need to Know About Eggs,” you’ll discover the nutritional wealth that eggs offer and why you should be stringent in choosing safe, high-quality eggs. Use the embed code to share it on your website.