A number of colleges and universities, along with many businesses such as America Online, have reduced or eliminated their use of eggs from caged hens.
Stacked Two Stories High
Yale, Tufts, Dartmouth, Vassar, the University of Wisconsin, and 80 more schools have made the switch in response to a campaign by the Humane Society of the United States. Caged hens live in battery cages which can be stacked as tall as two stories high, with about six hens per cage.
This gives each hen a space about 3/4 the size of a sheet of notebook paper.
The industry argues that this is still a humane system, because conveyer belts remove manure twice a day, and fans keep the air fresh.
Cage-free hens require four to six times the space, making their eggs more expensive. Even so, sales of cage-free eggs are increasing by as much as 10 percent to 20 percent a year. Other specialty eggs, such as organic eggs or eggs high in omega-3 fatty acids, are also undergoing rapidly increasing sales.
Organic, cage-free eggs are an incredible source of high-quality nutrients that many of us are deficient in, especially high-quality protein and fat. Although they may be a bit pricier than typical commercial eggs, the extra price is well worth it for the benefits they will bring to your health.
However, ideally, it would be best to obtain your eggs directly from the farmer. In my experience, even $6 per dozen organic, cage-free eggs purchased in many stores don't compare to those obtained directly from the farmer which you can purchase for $2-$4 per dozen.
How can you tell?
This one is easy: Just look at the yolks. You are getting really healthy eggs, if the yolks are bright orange yellow. If they are pale yellow, better keep looking.
If you cannot find a farmer to sell you eggs directly, then organic eggs from the store would be your next best option. Still, it's best to purchase directly from the farmer unrefrigerated and store them on top of your refrigerator, not in it.
Another thing most people don't understand about eggs is that you don't need to refrigerate them. They are not routinely refrigerated in Europe or South America, as they lose some of their nutritional value this way.
Refrigeration does allow them to last longer but they can easily last several weeks to a month or more unrefrigerated. If they are already refrigerated when you purchase them it really doesn't matter.
Along those same line, you'll also want to review my latest recommendations for eating raw eggs. The best way to consume eggs is raw, and as many of you know, I am a fond proponent of using raw eggs as a major food in the diet.
You might also know that I advise consuming your eggs with as little cooking as possible. I personally have from 2-4 raw eggs every day and just swallow them Rocky style. Remember that salmonella is not typically a problem if you are careful with egg selection.
Most women would not be very fond of this approach. Raw eggs can be "disguised" by whipping the whites into a meringue and then adding in the yolk. Most women have a problem with the texture of the egg white so this seems to work well. Additionally you can add them to vegetable juice.
If you just have to cook your eggs, remember the less you cook them the better, and that scrambled eggs are the absolute worst way to eat eggs. Valuable nutrients like lutein and other powerful antioxidants are destroyed when they are exposed to high temperatures.