Why we shouldn’t egg-nore the problems of free range

Faye Navesey tackles the hard truths surrounding "free" range eggs

Faye Navesey
8th March 2021
Featured image: Flickr
Ethics and sustainability have become increasingly important to all of us, evidenced by the increasing number of vegetarians and vegans and the growth in popularity of ethically sourced food. It poses a question about one of the most popular ‘ethical foods’: how ethical are free range eggs? And what alternatives are there?

Free range eggs, unlike caged eggs, are held to a higher standard of welfare, and hens in free range farms must be able to move around. However, this is relative, and the level of care that free range hens receive is often not as high as animal welfare groups recommend. This has led to intense criticism of the egg farming industry. The change in regulations in particular that could follow Brexit has brought light to this issue, and shows that the regulation of free range eggs is not as comprehensive as some consumers think.

A clear alternative to free range eggs is organically produced eggs. Organic egg farms require their hens to have a diet that is free of pesticides, and they cannot give them hormones or antibiotics to force them to grow quicker. Organic eggs are certainly more ethical than free range and a thousand times better than caged hens. Whilst all types of eggs have flaws and there is always room for improvement, organically farmed eggs are certainly the better option. That being said, they are much less available and much more expensive, so are not always accessible for everyone.

The egg industry is rife with flaws

The egg industry is rife with flaws, and even free range eggs marketed as ethical are not always what they seem. Whilst it is more ethical to buy organic eggs, it is clear that more regulations need to be placed on egg companies to help consumers shop ethically and sustainably.

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