Updated: Jun 30, 2020
Pasture Raised Egg
Vital Farms produces Alfresco eggs are "pasture-raised" eggs in which the hens are free to roam the field and eat whatever they please (grass, worms, bugs) rather than being cooped up in small cages or barns. There are three different types available to purchase: organic, non-gmo, and pasture-raised. How could the eggs could be “non-gmo” unless they were feeding the hens? After visiting their webpage, we quickly learned that the hens are indeed fed a “carefully formulated supplemental feed” which after speaking to the company itself, is primarily made of soybean, corn, and alfalfa. They state that “There is no such thing as a solely grass-fed chicken as they are not ruminants like cows or sheep. The certifications on the feed will match that on the brand of ours you are buying”. Vital Farms believe in supplying their hens with a high quality supplemental feed.
In addition to this, Vital Farms post on their website that their eggs are healthier because of the food that the hens consume in the pasture. In comparison to a conventional egg, Alfresco eggs contain:
1/3 less cholesterol
1/4 less saturated fat
2/3 more Vitamin A
2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
3 times more Vitamin E
7 times more beta carotene
4-6 times more Vitamin D
When comparing the nutrition label of the Alfresco eggs to other MULTIPLE egg companies, we realized that these claims were not evident on the label. After talking to Vital Farms as to why these claims were not proven on their label, they claimed that “Whatever the FDA standard is, is what we put. We cannot afford to test the eggs each week which would allow us to make these claims evident on the packaging”. It costs $200 to test 1 egg, which would need to be performed multiple times a week, at multiple farms. Vital Farms stands behind their claims that the nutrition content of their eggs is superior to a conventional egg, which have been proven through their own studies. That being said, Alfresco eggs are some of the healthiest eggs on the market and are the closest thing to a “backyard egg”.
The difference between “Cage Free”, “Pasture-Raised”, and “Free Range”:
Cage Free means that the hens simply do NOT live in cages, but are not guaranteed to have access outside or recommended square footage per hen. These hens are typically crammed in barns or warehouses. However, if the eggs are Certified Humane with the certification printed on the packaging, it means that the hens are required to have 1.5 square foot of space each, but ONLY if they have this certification.
Free Range means that the hens simply have ACCESS to the outdoors, such as a small opening in a barn, but are not guaranteed that the hens actually stepped foot outside. To be Certified Humane, the hens are required to have a minimum of 2 square foot of outside space per hen.
Pasture Raised means that the hens were fully raised outdoors and were fed a diet of feed in addition to eating off the land. To be Certified Humane, the hens must be given ample space outdoors in addition to access to a barn. At Vital Farms, the hens are required to have a minimum of 108 square feet of outdoor space!