Organic AND Pastured Eggs

It’s nearly impossible to find a grocery store egg from hens that are BOTH:

Certified Organic AND truly pastured. Yet, this is what most organic egg consumers WANT.

Instead, we find USDA Organic eggs that come from confined chickens, OR “pastured” claims from chickens that are likely fed conventional grain.

Why is it so difficult to find BOTH?

Because the National Organic Program and some organic certifiers have allowed cement-floored screened porches to qualify for the “outdoor access” required by organic regulations.

Misty Meadows Farm - Moeller Family organic eggs

The Moeller family with their flock of chickens. Photo courtesy of the Moeller Family. Watch the Misty Meadows Know Your Farmer Video

fauxganic chicken cafo from above

Just one of the industrial operations that competes with Misty Meadows under the same USDA Organic seal.

Watch the Misty Meadows Know Your Farmer Video
This cynical definition of “outdoor access” has resulted in the quick conversion of hundreds of conventional industrial poultry operations to organic, many of which house up to 200,000 birds.

Add the influx of large amounts of fraudulent organic grain for cheap “organic” feed and nearly all the real organic, pastured egg operations have gone out of business because they can’t compete on price.

Amplifying this marketplace confusion is the fact that the “pastured” claim is not regulated; anyone can stick the word “pastured” on a label. As a consumer, you have to decide whether you trust that the image on the carton is the reality.

chickens sunbathing in the pasture at Misty Meadows farm

Pasture raised chickens basking in the evening sunlight at Misty Meadows.

In spite of the cheaper industrial production under the same USDA Organic seal, Melissa and Mark Moeller of Misty Meadows Farm in Washington have managed to keep producing organic eggs AND pasture their birds – for real. As a Real Organic Project farm, it is required that their hens are organically fed on pasture that is at least “50% vegetated.” Bare dirt does NOT = pasture! Just like screened concrete porch does NOT = outdoor access.

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Why would the Moeller’s pasture their hens when it is cheaper to confine them and still receive the coveted USDA Organic seal?

Because it is healthier for the birds, the planet, and the people eating their eggs!

eggs and trays in the processing room at Misty Meadows

Fresh organic eggs after washing with only warm water.

Chickens can get up to a third of their diet eating insects and pasture, which changes the nutrient profile of the egg – think orange yolks. And by regularly rotating the hens to new pastures, the chicken waste left behind allows the pastures to thrive. In confinement, that concentrated waste becomes a hazard to both the chicken and the environment.

In their Know Your Farmer video, Melissa lets consumers know that industrial organic operations usually add colorants to the feed to get a more orange-colored yolk and trick consumers into thinking their eggs are more nutritious. Her hens have egg yolks that vary in color throughout the season because of the change in their natural diets.

If you’re sick of the lack of transparency, greenwashing, and confusion in the marketplace, spread the word about the Real Organic Project. As farmers, we’re not only letting you know how we farm, but why. Many of us are getting squeezed out of wholesale markets because of false claims and a loss in transparency under the USDA Organic seal.

But, it should give you piece of mind to know that the farmers behind the organic seal are joining together to stand up for its continued meaning. Please support our efforts to continue to bring you good organic food.

Yours in the dirt,