I am not a vegetarian, nor do I plan on becoming one. However I try to follow a “Meatless Monday” regime and, when possible, I try to buy meat and meat products that are as sustainable and ethical as possible, like every conscious carnivore like myself should do.
This post is about eggs. And what eggs you can buy without imagining those cramped hens stuffed in boxes, that never see the sunlight and usually die of infections and stress. After reading this post, you won’t have to think of them any more because, even though you’re staying in your usual supermarket and not going out of your way to look for chickens kept like princesses, you can take three minutes to chose the brand that treats its hens in the best possible way.
The first thing you do is ignore the label. I’ve seen many images of hens scurrying about in fields of grass and the magical words “free range” on the label whose eggs codes then paint a completely different story.
No, you won’t be buying eggs that are from a completely free-range hen that has been chasing butterflies all its life but yes, you will make a slight difference to the market that will possibly convince the chicken industry that we do care.
Here’s an egg. And the numbers that you see are an example of the code that all eggs must have.
The letter A is the one we’re most interested in: it will be a number from 0 to 3 and it shows what kind of a farm the hens that laid your perfect egg come from.
0 – organic farm
1 – free-range
2 – barn
3 – cage
These terms are used loosely, very loosely, as a hen living in a “free-range” farm could be just a larger cage dumped under the sun for a few hours, and a “barn” situation could be more stressful because of overcrowding and aggression than a cage situation!
So what you should really do is crank open that packaging and look for the code, then only buy the ones whose code starts with “0”. Because you’ll be doing the right thing.
The letters BB will be the country the egg farm is in. So for example Spain will have “ES”, the UK “UK” and Italy “IT”.
The other letters (usually 5, but sometimes more) identify the precise farm the egg comes from – not so interesting to us.
That’s it! Now you have everything you need to buy your eggs in a conscious, ethical way and feel better about yourself when you eat them 🙂