Why “cage-free” eggs are a SCAM — Plus the type of eggs that have 10x to 22x more omega-3s

by Mike Geary
Certified Nutrition Specialist
Best-Selling Author

I’m always amazed how many people overlook the importance of what an animal was fed and how that relates to the nutritional benefits of that food.

Eggs are a perfect example.

As you probably know, our egg supply in the US comes mostly from factory-farmed chickens that not only live in horrendously unhealthy conditions for the chicken, but also fed an unnatural diet of grains that SEVERELY affects the nutritional qualities of the eggs for your health.

I’ve been digging around on this topic for a long time, and here are some interesting things I’ve found:

In general, the regular eggs you get at the supermarket (that are fed grains and are from factory farms) contain anywhere from 30mg to 80mg omega-3 fatty acids per egg (depending on egg size, variety of hens, exact ratio of feed, etc)

However, hens allowed to roam freely outdoors on pasture, and/or fed a diverse feed of greens, mixed vegetables, bugs, grubs, worms, etc can contain anywhere from 300mg to 700mg of omega-3’s per egg.

One such study came from a Dr. Simopoulos who analyzed the omega-3 vs omega-6 content of eggs from a farm in Greece where the chickens roamed freely on pasture and ate a variety of natural foods such as greens and bugs/worms.  These eggs were compared against analysis of “supermarket eggs” fed a typical grain-based diet in the US.


The eggs from the free roaming chickens in Greece had an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 1.3 to 1 while the “supermarket eggs” had a horrendous omega-6/omega3 ratio of 19.4 to 1.

As for total omega-3 content per egg in Simopoulos’ report, the eggs from the free-roaming hens in Greece had approx 300 mg of omega-3’s per egg, while the “supermarket egg” had a lowly 30 mg of omega-3’s per egg.  That’s 10x more healthy omega-3s in the pasture-raised eggs, which you know are so incredibly important for your brain health, heart health and lots more!

So the next time you hear somebody say there’s “no difference” between standard grocery store eggs (from factory farms) and the more expensive pasture-raised eggs, show them THOSE stats!

I’ve also been reading the inside of egg cartons at grocery stores lately and comparing notes on their label claims of omega-3 fatty acids.

The egg producers recently have been catching on to the public’s knowledge of the reduced omega-3 content in mass produced eggs… so certain brands have now been “fortifying” the hens diet with feed additions higher in omega-3’s to help balance out the excess omega-6’s found in eggs from grain-fed hens.

Usually, this fortification occurs by adding either flax seed or an algae meal (or fish meal) to the hens feed. The hens eat more omega-3’s and that produces a higher omega-3 content in the eggs.

Some of these so-called “omega-3 eggs” have label claims anywhere from 100mg omega-3’s to 250mg omega-3’s…  Definitely better than the 30mg omega-3’s found in the typical “supermarket eggs”.  However, pasture-raised eggs would still be healthier overall than grain-fed hens that just contained a supplement in their feed.

I also stumbled onto a specific brand of eggs recently that touted that it’s hens are fed a patented feed mixture of 20 different vegetables, grains, and minerals. Because of the diverse diet that these hens are fed, their measured omega-3 content is listed as 660mg omega-3’s per egg, as well as a perfect 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3.

This is 22x the omega-3 content of the grain-fed “supermarket egg” that contained only 30mg omega-3’s in Dr. Simopoulos’ report.

That just shows how powerful of a difference in the nutrition composition that occurs simply by feeding the hens a proper diverse diet. And we haven’t even touched on the nutritional content of vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, etc that will obviously be higher in a healthy hen fed a diverse diet as opposed to a factory farmed hen.

(Btw, this is the same thing that happens in grass-fed beef vs grain-fed beef… there are much higher omega-3 levels in grass-fed beef, and much higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants)

However, these feed improvements for hens are only a small step in the right direction. Keep in mind that these egg companies with label claims of increased omega-3 content still doesn’t necessarily mean that the hens were raised in an outdoor environment, and allowed to roam freely in the sunshine (which gives them more vitamin D) instead of being confined indoors in filthy conditions their entire lives, sitting in their own excrement, and barely able to move.

blankAlso keep in mind that “cage-free” does NOT mean that the hens actually go outside… According to experts in the field, “cage free” eggs only means that there is a small door somewhere that the hens COULD go outside if they were somehow able to find the small door through a maze of thousands of other hens, and were smart enough to venture through it. This can vary vastly from company to company.

This is supposedly a loophole in the whole “cage-free” labeling system. I’m not sure if there’s any way currently to know IF the chickens actually ventured outside even when they’re labeled “cage-free”.

So what are the best options for the healthiest eggs?

1. By FAR the best option is if you can find pasture-raised eggs, such as a farm like Vital Farms.  This is one brand of eggs I find at my local health foods store, or at Whole Foods.  If the eggs are labeled “pasture-raised”, those are guaranteed to be the healthiest eggs you can buy, and the hens that are treated the best.

blankAlso, if you can find a local farmer (or farmers market) where you KNOW that the hens are actually outdoors most of the time and allowed to eat a natural diet with high variety, that is great too. These will be the superstar eggs in terms of nutritional quality.

2. If you absolutely don’t see any pasture-raised eggs at your grocery store, and don’t know any local farmers, the next best options are organic eggs and/or “omega-3” eggs.  In these scenarios, we at least know that the hens ate an organic diet and/or had supplemental flax or other omega-3 rich ingredients added to their feed.

You can also read the labels on egg cartons and see if it sounds like the hens were fed a highly variable diet (instead of just grains).  Sometimes this can come from algae meal or flax seed, etc added to their diet.  This is at least an improvement over standard supermarket eggs.

Despite what you may hear from some so-called “health experts” who say that all eggs are equal, these types of eggs WILL have significant nutritional benefits compared to your typical supermarket eggs.

Remember that “cage-free” has almost no meaning, because in most cases, it’s just a tiny door that’s open and the majority of the hens will never find their way to that open door, so they never actually get to go outside in the fresh air and sunshine.  You want to look for pasture-raised eggs as the top priority, and if you can’t find those, opt for organic or omega-3 eggs as the next best alternatives.

Remember to think of price differently than most people… sure, I realize that pasture-raised eggs might be $5 or $6 per dozen instead of $3, but that’s still super cheap compared to most foods.  It’s still only 40-50 cents per egg (and maybe 15 cents more than a standard grain-fed egg), and eggs are one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet that you can eat for your health, so it’s worth it to spend a little more on that upgrade.

Plus, you’re investing in your health with better quality foods, which can save on health care costs later!

And lastly, if you’re still not up to date about why the saturated fat and cholesterol from egg yolks is actually GOOD for you, then make sure to read this article of mine, which as you can see, has 57,000 facebook likes/shares… Why whole eggs are a LOT healthier than egg whites.

While we’re on the topic of omega 3’s and omega 6’s, did you know that there’s another “omega fat” that most people never really hear about?  It’s true, and check this out to see why…

> Odd “omega-7 oil” helps burn up to 2lbs daily (most people haven’t heard of this)

Speaking of eggs, don’t miss these articles too:

Try this baked avocado egg recipe for a healthy fat-burning breakfast

Before you buy eggs, you need to know these 5 things

Guacamole deviled eggs recipe

About The Watchdog

Mike Geary has been a Certified Nutrition Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer for over 15 years now. He has been studying nutrition and exercise for almost 25 years, ever since being a young teenager. Mike is originally from Pennsylvania, but has fallen in love with mountain life and now resides in the picturesque mountains of Utah. Mike is an avid adventurist and when he’s not spending his time skiing, mountain biking, hiking, or paddleboarding on the lake, he has enjoyed skydiving, whitewater rafting, piloting an Italian fighter plane (seriously), scuba diving, heli-skiing, and traveling all around the world, enjoying learning about different cultures. At the age of 40, Mike now feels healthier, stronger, and more energetic than when he was 20... All because of a healthy lifestyle and great nutrition!

Check Also


3 Scary Reasons To Ditch Aluminum Foil (And What To Use Instead)

Today’s blog is republished from my friends at TheAlternativeDaily, a leading publisher of daily alternative health …


  1. Wow! Thanks for the info! Great post! 🙂

  2. You should look at duck egg far superior to chicken eggs

  3. Joining the dots…gives a picture worth more than thousands of words. The art is joining the dots, which compacts the information into a ball and easier to assimilate…..Or digest! Thankyou for the clarity. RDR

    • Vital Farms eggs…I always see/have the option of their organic vs not organic pasture-raised eggs…which is better to buy? Why is there the difference if they are pasture-raised?

  4. very good.Eggs are good for health

  5. Now i know the truth about better eggs to eat.

  6. Do you know that pasture chickens are much more likely to get eaten by wild animals, killed by each other over food or getting bird flue? Or that there is not enough paste land available to raise enough chickens to supply the eggs used?

    • Hello, please have a quick look inside of a commercial chicken ranch, then tell us that your alternatives are actually worse! Your last sentence is patently false. Fly anywhere and clearly see there are millions of acres available to pasture livestock.

      Thanks to the nutrition watchdog for an outstanding article.


    • Mission Mountain Organic Eggs, if you live in the Western US.

    • Vital Farms eggs…I always see/have the option of their organic vs not organic pasture-raised eggs…which is better to buy? Why is there the difference if they are pasture-raised?

  8. Good article about eggs However, I get so frustrated when people start talking about 100% grass fed cattle! Clearly, people do not understand how beef cattle are raised because all beef cattle are grass fed until the last month when they are grain fed in feedlots.The key to a better steak is the marbling and oleic acid synthesis in the cattle when they are grain or corn fed during the finishing phase. The most detrimental thing that can be done is grass feeding, or grazing to finish the cattle. What happens in the rumen ( stomachs) when cattle consume grass or roughage, their fermentation pattern is such that it reduces marbling even more. They have fewer amounts of oleic acid for beef. Grain feeding very much promotes marbling deposition. That’s one thing feedlots do that does promote marbling.

    • As long as the grain they are finished with is not GMO, I’m all for it. But how do you determine that? Grain is not labeled. I agree, grain finished is better. But only if the grain is real food and not Frankenfood.

    • “Better steak.” “Better” for whom or what? Better for the consumer eating the dead cow or better for the cattle who are being raised?

    • “Better steak.” “Better” for whom or what? Better for the consumer eating the dead cow or better for the cattle who are being raised?

  9. Great article! Very informative!

    Also, don’t be fooled when the egg container says vegetarian fed.
    That often means fed GMO corn and soy.

    • so true! chickens aren’t meant to eat those grains – they have pointy beaks for a reason… to peck the ground for insects & bugs 🙂

  10. Unless there is strong legislation and a full auditing process, the term ‘pasture raised’ is just as meaningless as cage-free or free range. Producers put anything on their labels which will increase sales.

  11. Where do you find duck eggs? I have never seen them anywhere in my markets??????????

  12. Great article! It’s too bad many people do not have the opportunity to read it and the places to purchase pastured eggs. My Mother raised pastured chickens. She went to the feed mill to get non-commercial, none GMO feed. Also the chicken eggs were rooster inspected!
    Do you know why free range eggs cost more? Because you have to pay for roaming charges 🙂

  13. EXCELLENT article! This also goes for pasture raised pork! Extremely healthy. Know your farmer. Know your food.

  14. Cage-free doesn’t have anything to do with access to the outdoors. It means the battery cages have been removed and all the chickens mingle together, which is not necessarily better. Think of it as the difference between 600 people in an apartment building, 6 people in each of 100 apartments, compared to 600 people in one gymnasium.

  15. Rhyl Bell....Aussie

    I only eat farm eggs who roam free and come home to roost at night in their chicken house and mum locks the door till the next morning…The best food…Battery hens, poor things …sad Good zinc source too..

  16. Great article, Mike. Much better than watching a video, for me. But what about those of us mature men who have cut way back on eggs because current research shows that eggs are bad for the prostate? I’m sure you have read about this.

  17. Genevieve J Borcherding

    We were in the poultry business for 42 years and cage layers are the best because the hen was not lying around in poultry feces,,,They are always with food and water and controlled airflow….You (the public) are being scammed about range free eggs so the price of a dozen eggs can go up….That egg comes out of the same place no matter what kind of bird you are raising….

    • have to disagree there. free-range/cage-free, it done correctly, is going to be best. The hens are raised humanely, and allowed to roam and eat more of what they’re meant to eat – insects. They don’t have pointy beaks to eat things like corn. Chickens are nor vegetarian

  18. cathy Marie helgerson

    I was wondering what does eating eggs steamed in water no butter or oil have seemed to lower my diabetes levels and eating one slice of multi grain bread in the AM I am still experimenting with this. I take insulin and have type 2 diabetes.

    I have been told and believe that diabetes is caused by the pollution in the Air and water but what about our food and how are eggs produced.

    I stopped eating meat of any kind and also shell fish, and fish hoping to lower my diabetes levels I do think that helps. I am so concerned about the real problems with meat anything with eyes is very harmful to humans and so I take a Protein shake with probiotic and omega added this helps with digestion. We humans have a problem with digestion because of the problems with digesting food that is combined with pollution we are breathing in polluted air and drinking polluted treated water this should be told to people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.