Happy Eggs?

Recently I’ve been on a Hulu Plus cooking show kick, binging on Lidia and Martha and the occasional Avec Eric with Eric Ripert. In fact, it was on one of Eric Ripert’s shows, where he cooks with Dan Barber (who’s now on Twitter, by the way), that I learned about pastured eggs. While touring Chef Ripert around Blue Hill Farm, Chef Barber says, “When buying eggs, you don’t want to look for free-range, necessarily…what you want to look for is pastured eggs.” Pastured meaning the chickens get to graze on grass and good stuff. I never thought I’d find pastured eggs at my supermarket, until…

…the other day I was there and saw the eggs you see at the top of this post: Happy Eggs. Here’s their company website. Their slogan is: “Our Hens Go Outside. Turns out that’s kind of a big deal.”

The eggs really weren’t that much more expensive than the organic free-range eggs I buy. (Let’s say $6, though I really don’t remember.) The next morning, I was excited to make scrambled eggs with them. Here they are cracked into a bowl:


The yolks were slightly brighter than usual and here’s where I’m supposed to tell you that the eggs tasted WILDLY different than the eggs I normally buy. They didn’t.

But, as the carton says, they’re happy eggs and I believe that’s true. If the hens get to roam around, that’s worth it in my book. So I’ll be buying Happy Eggs from now on unless someone in the comments points out something I’m missing like, “Happy Eggs is really a front for a Mexican drug cartel.” Until that happens, I have a new go-to egg company.

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Update: I added a question mark to the top of this post because someone on Facebook sent me a link to this disturbing story about Happy Eggs in Britain. Geesh. Do you think the same thing is going on here in the USA? Does it make a difference that they’re using the word “pastured”? Anyone know anything more about this?

22 thoughts on “Happy Eggs?”

  1. I’m not sure we even know – scientifically* – whether chicken eggs taste differently based on different rearing conditions. As for the welfare question, the problem with something like “pastured” is that there’s no regulation or overweight or official USDA definition of what that means. Maybe it means “sometimes we open up the doors to their pens” for example. For how long? How often? At what time? I’d argue that the only real way to know what sort of conditions the animals you eat live in is to, as they say, “eat locally,” and know your local farms. Which, admittedly, is pretty tough in LA.

    I suspect this is mostly questionable advertising, not a true difference in animal welfare, management, or husbandry.

    (*Speaking as an animal cognition scientist who studies the way chickens think and reason about the world…)

      1. Keep wondering when a farmer with pastures is going to start a subscription with chicken shares – the way you can buy cow shares for the dairy…only makes sense – farmer is paid enough to actually Have a pasture and everyone’s happy.

  2. from wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_range

    “In the United States, USDA free range regulations currently apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside.[3] The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.[4]

    The term “free range” is mainly used as a marketing term rather than a husbandry term, meaning something on the order of, “low stocking density,” “pasture-raised,” “grass-fed,” “old-fashioned,” “humanely raised,” etc.”

    There’s little regulation so it could mean just about anything sadly. No way to know except to go to the source.

  3. U live in LA. You can get local pastured eggs at the farmers market. Lily’s r at many markets and there r others.

  4. all I can tell you is that buying local to you, raised grass fed and eating grubs and bugs and stuff are the ones you want…..the yolks are larger than the ones you show and almost orange in color -mine come in all grades cause my crazy country egg lady cleans them but she doesn’t size them………..and they taste richer (which may not be the right word–egg-ier somehow? and baked goods?…..oh honey:)

  5. dobroci.blogspot.co.uk

    I think the best thing you can do is have your own chicken if possible or a good friend who has some space in his garden. I can’t believe any big company now.

  6. I try to buy my eggs at the greenmarket but on the occasions when I can’t, I look for eggs that are marked certified humane.

  7. Get your own hens! My husband and I on our tiny urban plot have 2 hens who have the run of the backyard- we get an egg from each hen every 26 hours or so which is more than we need. They take care of the bugs and are great entertainment and are only ever confined by choice (at night) when they tuck into their coop. I’d send you my extra eggs if it wasn’t cost prohibitive although i might just move to California, seeing those prices! Each hen was only $6!

  8. I don’t know if it is feasible in LA, but up here in Saint Paul, Minnesota you can very easily get eggs from someone you can get to know and trust. Really, exceptionally good eggs.. At most, I have paid $6, but I have also paid $3 and had them delivered to my office, though sometimes the person raising them has to go on hiatus, and I have to find a new source for awhile. There are perks to being a 10 minute drive from the country.

  9. I have great fresh egg sources here in Bellingham, $3.50 to $4.00 a dozen. I used them in egg salad recently and the yolks were larger than the whites – not sure that’s necessarily a good thing.

  10. I’m so over having to research and re-research (and pay $6 for a dozen) eggs just to make sure the chickens weren’t tortured to death- thanks for helping on some of the legwork- I’m gettin’ my own happy eggs from my own happy chickens from now on!

  11. We have another brand of eggs in the UK called ‘Baking Eggs’ – because you need a different type of egg to bake?! Oddly they are produced by a ‘luxury’ egg brand but this isnt on the packaging or anywhere publicly – just a bad marketing idea

  12. I’ve bought Happy Eggs here in Britain a couple of times, but always been a bit suspicious of their credentials – seeing the link you posted isn’t a major surprise.

    Learning that the brand is available in the US as well doesn’t exactly bode well – a decent egg is necessarily a local thing.

    Beyond the friendly name, there isn’t much on the packaging to suggest high welfare conditions beyond the Freedom Food tag (which isn’t all that, as welfare standards go). They’re cheaper than supermarket own-brand free-range eggs and having tasted them, the quality isn’t any better… perhaps slightly lower, even.

    I’ve moved around a lot in the south of England, and wherever I’ve been the local butcher or greengrocer has sold free-range eggs from a local farm, slightly cheaper and noticeably better quality than the supermarket free-rangers.The better quality indicates that the bird is living a better life, so it’s a win-win situation.

  13. As Stuart says, they’re over here too and the packaging is very similar so it’s almost certainly the same company. I buy my eggs from “The Better Food Company” who only have two stores and make much of being organic/local/etc and the eggs are actually cheaper than what I’d pay in the supermarket.

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