Organic Eggs Vs Pasture Eggs: A Comparison

Organic eggs vs. pastured raised is a particularly confusing comparison, so what’s the difference? 

Organic eggs are laid by chickens having only been fed a certified organic diet with no GMOs or animal by-products. Pastured raised eggs come from hens foraging grasses, seeds and insects outside. These chickens also eat feed, but it is not their primary diet. 

Studies show both organic and pasture-raised eggs have healthier nutritional content than conventional eggs.

During my health coaching sessions I get asked about this topic a lot. In this article, you’ll learn more about organic and pasture-raised eggs as I look more closely at their nutritional content and farming practices.

Organic eggs at my home I bought in the supermarket.
Organic eggs at my home I bought in the supermarket

Organic vs Pasture Raised

Organic and pasture-raised are not the same. Organic eggs come from hens eating organic chicken feed, meaning no GMO ingredients and no by-products. Pasture-raised eggs are laid by chickens spending most of their time outside and eating a diet of plants, insects, seeds and some chicken feed. 

Both are higher in vitamins A and E, and omega-3 fatty acids, than conventional eggs. They might sound like they must be a healthy or humane choice, but the practices behind these labels are often unclear1. 

There are pros and cons to both varieties. I take a look at their nutrients next. Organic Eggs vs Pasture Raised: Nutrients

 Organic Eggs
(1 Large)
Pasture Raised Eggs
(1 Large)
Fat4.8 g5.0 g
Protein6.2 g6.0 g
Cholesterol186 mg185 mg
Sodium71 mg70 mg
Potassium69 mg70 mg
Calcium20 mg30 mg
Iron0.7 mg1.1 mg
Vitamin A90 mcg120 mcg
Vitamin D1 mcg1 mcg
The nutrients in organic and pasture raised eggs.

The nutrients of both eggs are very similar until it gets to the minerals and vitamins. Calories, protein, fat and cholesterol are almost the same. The pasture raised eggs contain more potassium, calcium, iron and Vitamin A.

Pros and Cons

Organic Eggs

Since eggs come from chickens, you would think eggs are organic by definition, and you’d be right.

But the organic eggs you see in the grocery store came from farms that follow certain USDA standards. The “organic” label refers to the feed these chickens were given, as well as requirements the USDA sets for living conditions, healthcare and handling2. 

Pros of Organic Eggs

There are some advantages to buying and eating organic eggs.

  • They are free of GMOs. Conventional chicken feed, or mash, contains non-organic corn, soy and grains. In addition, the feed does not have to be organic, therefore it often includes GMO corn or soy. Organic chicken feed must use organic components, so no GMOs will be included in the ingredients.  
  • They come from happier chickens. The USDA regulations require organic hens have year-round access to the outdoors, which is far more humane than the battery cages on conventional farms. Those practices have been outlawed in Europe3, and animal welfare scientists have found those conditions cause abnormal and harmful behaviors in chickens.

As of 2020, six states in the United States have passed laws banning the use of battery cages for egg production4.

Pasture raised eggs.
Pasture raised eggs

Cons of Organic Eggs

Now we’ll consider some of the downsides of organic eggs. 

  • They may not come from well-fed chickens. Even though the ingredients are more controlled than in conventional feed, organic feed is not necessarily nutritionally complete. Chickens eating organic diets may not get enough essential protein, which contributes to the nutrition of their eggs5.
  • They are not much healthier than conventional eggs. Studies on the nutrients found in conventional and organic eggs show there is not much of a difference6 between the two. Compared to eggs from hens fed a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, organic and conventional eggs were considered almost the same7.  
  • They may not come from the best settings. The USDA regulations for organic egg-laying require hens have access to outdoor space throughout the year. This means the chickens can roam wide fields, but they may have only a small yard or screened porch next to their barn. 

Pasture-Raised Eggs

Pasture-raised eggs come from chickens spending most of their time outdoors foraging. The nonprofit group Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC) ensures farms producing pasture-raised eggs maintain 108 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor space for each hen. 

Pros of Pasture Raised Eggs

Pasture-raised eggs have several advantages over conventional and organic eggs. 

  • Pasture-raised eggs are healthier than conventional eggs. Chickens with pasture access engage in natural behaviors, like foraging for insects and seeds. They also get more exercise and sunlight than conventionally farmed chickens8. 
  • A 2010 study published by Cambridge University Press showed that pasture-raised eggs have higher concentrations of vitamins and omega-3s.
  • They are rich in Vitamin D. We need vitamin D for healthy functioning, but this deficiency is widespread. Nearly 1 billion people across the world are low in vitamin D. 
  • One 2014 study found eggs laid by hens who spent time outside had 3-4 times more vitamin D than hens who stayed indoors9.
  • Pasture egg farming leads to better agricultural practices. Hens are excellent farmworkers. They weed the pasture as they forage and eat insects that could harm crops or require pesticides. They also fertilize the ground with their excrement. 
  • The HFAC requirement for rotating the pastures gives each field time to recover and grow. Farmers use less equipment and pesticides thanks to busy chickens.

Cons of Pasture Raised Eggs

  • “Pasture-raised” is an unregulated label. This means the USDA does not have a requirement farms must meet to label their eggs “pasture-raised.” However, third-party groups like the HFAC evaluate farms based on their standards. Products labeled “Certified Humane” have met these requirements for outdoor and indoor conditions.
  • Chickens may not get everything they need from pasture. They may need supplemental feed to match conventional chickens in weight and egg-laying.
  • Pasture-raised is not organic. Unless the label also says organic, the supplemental feed could contain GMO components. 

Organic Eggs vs Pasture Raised: Which Are Better?

It’s unlikely you’ll find one product that meets your dietary, environmental, and financial needs. The best eggs for you depend on your concerns. Therefore let’s answer both of these questions:

Is pasture raised eggs better than organic? Pasture raised eggs are better than organic because they have more nutritional value and are produced on farms where the hens have more space to roam.

Are organic eggs better than pasture raised? Organic eggs are better than pasture raised because they come from chickens who are not fed GMOs.

To determine which eggs are better, you’ll need to choose your eggs based on what’s most important to you. Organic eggs come from chickens who are not fed GMOs, while pasture-raised eggs have nutritional advantages and are produced on farms where hens have more space. 

That might be happy chickens, healthy eggs and natural agricultural practices, or non-GMO feed and USDA regulations.

Organic Eggs vs Pasture Raised: Which Cost More?

I checked three different supermarkets located in the same area and compared the prices between organic and pasture raised eggs. Which eggs cost more, organic or pasture raised?

Organic eggs cost more than pasture raised eggs. The average price for one dozen organic eggs is $4.55 and the average price for one dozen pasture raised eggs is $3.62. 

The stores, brands and prices are listed below.

Shoprite (Store)

Egg Lands Best (Brand)

  • Organic, Large (1 Dozen) $5.49
  • Pasture Raised, Large (1 Dozen) $4.39 

Walmart (Store)

Marketside (Brand)

  • Organic, large (1 Dozen) $2.98
  • Pasture Raised, Large (1 Dozen) $2.48

Stop & Shop (Store)

Nature’s Promise (Brand)

  • Organic, Large (1 Dozen) $5.19
  • Pasture Raised, Large (1 Dozen) $3.99

If you have any questions to ask me about this article don’t hesitate to comment below or email us. You can find an email on our contact page.

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  1. Cambridge University Press:Vitamins A, E and fatty acid composition of the eggs of caged hens and pastured hens []
  2. USDA: Guidelines for Organic Certification of Poultry []
  3. Official Journal of the European Communities: Laying down the minimum standards for the protection of laying hens []
  4. Wikipedia: Battery cage []
  5. The Washington Post: People love chickens that are “vegetarian fed.” But chickens are not vegetarians []
  6. Time: Organic Eggs: More Expensive, but No Healthier []
  7. ScienceDirect: Fatty acid composition of certified organic, conventional and omega-3 eggs []
  8. CBC: Are cheaper eggs just as nutritious as organic or free-run options? Marketplace tested 14 brands to find out []
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Free-range farming: a natural alternative to produce vitamin D-enriched eggs []

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