Should you look for the USDA seal when you buy eggs?
Yes, if you don’t have any trustworthy local egg suppliers whose production methods meet or exceed organic standards, based on your own personal verification.
But consumer beware. Not all USDA certified organic eggs are equal, according to a recent report by the Cornucopia Institute.
From the report, titled “Scrambled Eggs: Separating Factory Farm Egg Production from Authentic Organic Agriculture:”
Since 2002, the use of the term “organic” on food packaging has been regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Federal regulations determine which farms and processors qualify as “organic” and, therefore, are authorized to use the official “USDA Organic” seal on their food packaging.
However, while consumers expect the organic label to provide an alternative to the industrialized food system, approaches are diverging in the organic-egg-producing sector. One path affords adequate outdoor access (often on well-managed pasture), intentional diversity on the farm, and conditions which allow hens to exhibit their natural behaviors outdoors. The other path favors large numbers of laying hens raised in confinement conditions nearly identical to conventional, industrial-scale egg production.
Want to “score” eggs that come from hens that are allowed to roam outdoors? Check out the Cornucopia Institute’s Organic Egg Brand Scorecard.