Not all organic farms are created equal. Even though it is labeled 'organic,' it may be a surprise to hear that certain eggs are being produced by caged and un-organiclly fed hens. This campaign was made to inform buyers about the true nature of the products they are purchasing. The companies listed under 'support' will have earned a 2 or higher egg rating by the Cornucopia Institute.
5 Egg Rating (Exemplary) - Beyond Organic
Producers in this top tier manage diverse small to medium scale family farms. They raise their hens in mobile housing on a well-managed and ample pasture or in ﬁxed housing with an intensively managed rotated pasture. They sell eggs locally or regionally under their farm’s brand name. Mostly through farmer’s markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural grocery stores and sometimes through larger chains like Whole Foods.
4 Egg Rating (Excellent) - Organic Promoting Outdoor Access
Producers in this category provide ample outdoor space and make an eﬀort to encourage their birds to go outside. They provide an excellent outdoor environment, often either rotated pasture or well-managed outdoor runs, with an adequate number of popholes/doors for the chickens to reach the outdoors.
3 Egg Rating (Very Good) - Organic, Complying with Minimum USDA Standards
Brands with a three-egg rating are very good choices. Eggs from brands in this category either come from family-scale farms that provide outdoor runs for their chickens, or from larger-scale farms where meaningful outdoor space is either currently granted or under construction. All producers in this category appear committed to meeting organic standards for minimum outdoor space for laying hens.
2 Egg Rating (Fair) - Some Questions Remain Concerning Compliance with Federal Standards
These are either industrial-scale operations or others with outstanding questions or concerns regarding their compliance with USDA regulations. One of the primary features that distinguish these organizations from the ethically challenged brands below is their willingness to share with their customers (and Cornucopia researchers) some of the details as to how their chickens are cared for and how their eggs are actually produced.
1 Egg Rating (ethically deficient) - I
ndustrial organics, no meaningful outdoor access, all or none were open enough to participate.
Brands with a “1-egg” rating are generally produced on industrial-scale egg operations that grant no meaningful outdoor access. “Outdoor access” on these operations generally means a covered concrete porch that is barely accessible to the chickens. Means of egress from the buildings are intentionally small to discourage birds from going outside, and make it possible for only a small percentage of birds to have “access” to the outdoors. No producers in this category were willing to participate in The Cornucopia Institute’s project, and none shared their production practices with Cornucopia researchers. This is disturbing to many organic consumers, since transparency has always been viewed as a hallmark of the organic food movement.
Private‐label, or store‐brand, eggs rated with one egg are sold by grocers or distributors who have the obvious desire of wanting to grow their presence in the organic marketplace. Unfortunately, there is an inherent limitation in private‐label organic products. Organic consumers tend to want to know where their food is coming from and how it is produced and private‐label products are anonymous by their very nature. Our research indicates that the vast majority of organic eggs for private label brands are produced on industrial farms that house hundreds of thousands of birds and do not grant the birds meaningful outdoor access.Comprehensive list here: http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-egg-scorecard
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected with the Cornucopia Institute. This campaign is merely meant to act as a guide. A companies' manufactoring practices are subject to change at any time. Consumers are encouraged to do their own research and find the product best suited for their needs.
3/19/14 - Companies with a 5-2 egg rating updated in the 'support' section. Many 5 egg rating companies did not show up in Buycott's database. Refer to the comprehensive list for more.
3/7/2014 - Companies with a 1 egg and Private label rating updated in the 'avoid' section.