Consumers who wish to consume only “cage-free” eggs find themselves in a bit of a dilemma. Actually, a giant 400-pound gorilla of a fundamental dilemma:
It’s impossible to tell – either through taste or by visual observation – whether an egg was brought forth from a free-range mother or a caged one.
So does that mean you have to rely on the word of the egg vendor? (This is where you would expect us to come up with an alternative, right? Not this time.) The answer is yes.
The truth is that the government lacks jurisdiction to verify claims made by egg producers. Major animal welfare laws don’t cover laying hens. The sad fact is that your sunny side ups may have come from a happy, contented bird or a horribly abused one.
Organizations like Animal Welfare Approved attempt to certify eggs from well-treated hens, but it’s all really a crap-shoot. The bottom line is: How much do you trust the people who sell you your eggs?