As the pasture raised label grows in popularity, it's important to remember that pasture raised doesn't mean organic. Many pasture raised hens are given access to fresh air, sunshine, and a supplemental feed made with conventional ingredients. That's right: without the USDA Certified Organic seal on the package, pasture raised eggs are not organic or free from GMOs and pesticides.
Words by: Family Farm Team
By now, there’s a good chance we've all read and heard of the many benefits of pasture raised eggs. The pasture raised label generally brings to mind images of peaceful hens foraging in fields of lush, grassy pasture—which is fantastic, because that’s how all laying hens should live. In fact, that’s an accurate description of all the flocks that call our family farms home. But while the pasture raised label may be drawing attention, it’s not equivalent to organic unless the carton wears the USDA Organic symbol.
Given the facts, it’s easy to wonder: “If the hens are eating grass, flowers, and bugs, then why aren’t their eggs organic?” Yes, the foraged food in their diet could be considered organic, so long as those pastures haven’t been treated with pesticides. But here’s the catch: even a laying hen who spends much of her day out in pasture will not get her dietary needs fully met by forage alone.
Of course, pastured hens will devour insects and marigold petals in between dust baths as an essential part of their diet. Still, these small bites aren’t sufficient to support the hard work of laying eggs. Nearly all laying hens in the United States get their primary nutrition from a supplemental feed offered in the barn or coop. This is true for large and small egg companies alike, and that feed can either be USDA Certified Organic and free of synthetic pesticides and GMOs, or not. Without the organic seal on their package, conventional eggs aren’t guaranteed to be free from pesticides or GMOs.
A closer look at many leading pasture raised brands will show that pasture raised eggs aren’t always raised to strict organic standards. Some pasture raised hens are fed a conventional feed made with GMO strains of corn and soybeans. These crops may receive pesticide treatments during their growing cycle, and the same rules apply to the grassy outdoor fields offered up for the hens to enjoy. The decision to spray or not to spray is commonly passed onto individual farmers, leaving everyday shoppers with questions about how their food is raised.
The reason for offering conventional feed to laying hens can differ from farm to farm, with the final call often coming down to the price of ingredients. Without the added cost of certification or sourcing organic corn and soybeans for feed, some farmers find that pasture raised eggs are a more economical choice that still put animal welfare first.
For families and individuals looking to avoid unnecessary pesticides and GMOs, organic eggs are a safe and reliable option. By checking for the USDA Organic label, you can rest easy knowing that your eggs came from hens given a quality feed without any unnecessary or harmful ingredients.
Along with our B Corp certification and commitment to family farms, you’ll also find another important label on our Pete and Gerry’s eggs: Certified Humane®. This means our farmers follow the highest standards of animal welfare, and we partner with veterinarians and livestock specialists to ensure a humane life for our hens. So no matter which family farm your Pete and Gerry's eggs come from, we make it easier than ever to #BelieveInWhatYouBuy.
December 09, 2020
I see on your egg carton it says 100% vegetarian feed.
My system can't tolerate any type of grain or legume, It does not matter if it's Organic or pesticide free. Reading many of the comments, i see that you also feed them corn and soy.
Do you sell any eggs where the chickens are not fed corn or soy?
Hi Ralph, we appreciate you taking the time to reach out. Currently all of our hens have access to a supplemental feed that contains grain. We apologize we and hope you are able to find an egg that works with your system.
October 14, 2019
Hello..I noticed the omega 3 total per egg in the free range organics. Was wondering the omega 6 content. Thank you for your attention.
October 15, 2019
Hello Chris, thanks for reaching out to us. There are some brands that enhance their chicken feed for increased Omega content, which increases the DHA, but we have chosen not to do so.
Because we are limited by the FDA on what we can claim on our packaging, we’ve chosen not to include the Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio on our cartons. Instead, we like to go by the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference to find average nutrient amounts, which we know have been scientifically derived. Our eggs typically have about 70mg of Omega-3 fatty acids but we do not yet test for Omega-6 and therefore cannot provide this ratio ourselves. You can find the information from the database here: https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ Thanks for reaching out!
May 19, 2019
Does your feed contain soy?
May 20, 2019
Great question, Laura! Our feed does contain soy as a form of protein for our hens. Like all of the ingredients in our feed, the soy is USDA Certified Organic, meaning it's pesticide-free and non GMO.
January 01, 2019
We love your eggs and everything your company stands for! We shop at a variety of grocery stores, but always go to our small local market to buy your eggs and we are happy to pay the small bit extra to ensure we are supporting companies that share our values. We’d love it if you could update your store finder to show that small, local stores also carry your eggs, like the Honeoye Falls Marketplace and the Mendon Meadows Marketplace, both in western NY. These small markets do a great job of promoting and carrying local, organic, healthy options and it would be great to support their efforts.
October 24, 2018
We have been purchasing your eggs now for quite awhile and the yolks are now pale yellow. What's the problem. I'm familiar that the darker the yolks the more nutrition Price Chopper in Edwardsville Pa.
October 25, 2018
Hi Linda, we're very sorry for this change that you've noticed in our eggs. While free range has many benefits, we’ve also found that it leads to more variability in yolk color due to different grazing habits and preferences from hen to hen. That being said, we would really like to look into this for you and replace those unsatisfactory cartons that you purchased. Do you mind sending us an email at [email protected]?
August 16, 2018
so none of the feed for your chickens contains any soy products or pesticide sprayed corn - correct? If so, you should put that on the label - you are getting beat out by eggs that say "soy free" . . . at whole foods, anyway!
August 17, 2018
Great questions, Rosie. Our eggs are USDA Certified Organic, which means they are free of GMOs, antibiotics, and chemical pesticides (and this is also true of their chicken feed and the pastures where they forage for insects, grubs, and greens). Our supplemental chicken feed does contain organic soy and corn, and both ingredients play a huge role in keeping the hens healthy. Continuing to keep up with the latest research on soy as a feed source, along with research on feed ingredients in general, is important to us so we can ensure that we are providing our hens and customers with the highest quality food possible. But, for the time being, we have not yet found an adequate alternative that provides the hens with quite the nutritional quality that soy has.
June 22, 2020
But it’s not beneficial for them to be feed soy or corn! It can be done and should be the way. Do you have any plans for the future or having organic soy/corn FREE eggs.
June 24, 2020
Thank you for reaching out, Jojo. At this time, we do not have any solidified plans to remove the organic corn and soy from our girls' supplemental feed since it does provide them with some essential nutrients they may not get while out in the pastures.
August 02, 2018
I love the way you have chosen to farm. I will always choose your eggs over any others because of the ethical way you treat your hens. I believe we all need to support farms that produce certified organic ethically raised food. BTW Mr.Chase is obviously uninformed about the nutritional difference. I will always pay more for your kind of quality
Thank you so much for this honest comment, Mike. Our goal is not only to improve standards, treatment, and ethics within the agricultural industry, but also to produce eggs that consumers like you can truly believe in and feel good about buying. In order to accomplish these goals, we feel that it's our responsibility to be transparent when it comes to labels and other points of confusion in the egg industry. We're always so touched to hear comments like yours that come from a place of trust in and awareness of the practices behind our product. We truly cannot thank you enough for that.
July 22, 2018
No real difference between organic eggs as far as nutrition goes, and the taste is the same. Too many people brainwashed into thinking otherwise so that you and others can ask for more money for your products. You should be ashamed of your selves.
May 26, 2019
I am just started to buy your eggs, down here in Texas.
I am enjoying them but I have a few questions.
I get the research about soy and corn, we read it too yet that research is all USDA research. Branch out. There are choices Best eggs I EVER ate were fed no soy or corn.
We had to search high and low and found pea an excellent, though more expensive alternative. We also fed them kelp. SOmetimes I could taste it in the eggs.
Your eggs taste a little fishy to me. Do you do any seaweed supplements?
Looking forward to exploring your website and learning more. And to Karl Chase Sr. The difference in price has to do with the fact that th USDA supplements Big Farms with loads of booty. Little farms get no such break. Youare paying a truer price at your local farms then commercial growers. And some of the Organic labels are a total crock. The consumer needs to be educated so that you are not swindled. Organic used to stand for way more than the absence of chemicals and now that concept is lost.
Food is business and we, the consumer can rely on NOTHING but our own investigation to ensure that you are not being swindled at the cash register.
I could go on but why, most everyone has stopped reading by now, shame, we have so much to learn about food from each other.
I have been eating yard eggs for over forty years. Had over two hundred hens at our Organic (certifed) Sprout Farm.
May 29, 2019
Hi Alicia. We're excited to hear that you're buying our eggs down in Texas. The problem with using an alternative to soy and corn is that these corn and soy alternatives are not as effective and can decrease egg production. This can really hurt our partner farms in the long run. We're always staying updated with the most current research on feed, and so we thank you for your own perspective. We do not use any seaweed supplements.
We hope you do enjoy exploring our website further! Farming ethically can cost more money, because we avoid corner cutting in all senses. However, we're proud of the way we do things at Pete and Gerry's. We absolutely agree that consumers have a job to be informed and to listen to each other about these issues. And how awesome to have had the opportunity to raise your own chickens!
July 24, 2018
Hi Karl, while it may be true that nutritional values don't vary significantly from organic to non organic eggs, we firmly believe that the treatment of the hens (i.e. access to the outdoors), their diets, and the quality of the feed they receive all play a monumental role in the quality of the final product. To use taste as an example, many of our consumers have reached out to us after switching from conventional eggs to ours, often delighted and surprised that our eggs have a fuller flavor, more substantial white, and deep orange yolk. We think this says it all - everything that goes into the production of your food matters!
July 26, 2018
I noticed when I would eat breakfast out at "restaurants" the eggs I ordered would have a sort of ammonia smell. I don't like to eat out for many reasons. I prefer buying organic because though nothing is perfect in our polluted world ..I try to avoid as much agri poison as possible.
July 23, 2018
One thing I have learned is that if it does not have certified organic, it is not no matter what the other claims on the box are whether it be free range, Omega-3 added, etc. Too many people fall for this and think they are getting a quality egg. If something has to be added, ask yourself, why is it lacking in the first place? Organic for me means free range and a pesticide free diet that gives them everything they need.
That's a really great point, Colleen. With all the different terms and labels out there, it can be tough to keep everything straight! We always recommend looking for the USDA Certified Organic label, which is usually printed right on the front of the package.
Except that the USDA certified Organic does NOT guarantee that the chickens actually go outside. Most just have a door to the outdoors and all the food and water is inside. Most of us have no idea what chickens really need or what a good chicken life is.
Hi Alicia! We totally hear you on this one, too. We hope that the USDA Certified Organic label will move to also include standards for the living conditions of hens on farms. As of now, the Certified Humane label is an excellent indication of whether the chickens actually have access to the outdoors, including food and water.
July 18, 2018
Where can I buy your eggs??
Hi Elizabeth, we have a handy dandy store finder located here on our website that will show you stores in your area that carry our eggs: https://www.peteandgerrys.com/buy-eggs. Hope this helps!
July 16, 2018
Then these eggs are truly organic unlike mine who are Pasteur raised & fed rain water but Not organic grain!
July 13, 2018
How fresh and how far away ?
Hi Tom, we partner with a network of small family farms across the Northeast and Midwest, so when our eggs arrive at your local grocery store, they were laid just days beforehand. We're so proud that this is possible thanks to our hardworking farmers and decision to branch out rather than grow into a massive, localized factory farm. If you're ever interested in trying our eggs, just click "Where to Buy" at the top of the page to find out where they're sold near you.
March 06, 2017
March 10, 2020