Family Green Survival

Free Range – How Free?

There is a big push to sell free range poultry and eggs, also labeled as free roaming, cage free, and pasture raised, at highly marked up prices. The image of chickens running free in a pasture eating a variety of plants, natural seeds, and bugs is used to convey the goodness of their products. Unfortunately, the reality is far from the ‘farm roaming’ birds. According to the USDA’s requirements for labeling eggs and poultry meat free range, there is absolutely no requirement that the birds have access to open grass land. The only requirement is that the barn, typically housing thousands of birds, has a ‘door’ to outside. In most cases, only the birds close to the door can get out. The outside can be gravel, cement, rocks, or whatever. It does not have to be grass, and no specific minimum size of the outside space is specified by USDA. To be classified free range, the product doesn’t have to meet stringent legal requirements. To be sure that you are getting your money’s worth, find a local farmer, visit the farm, and see how the birds are being raised. Other than that, Buyer Beware. Do you buy free range eggs and poultry and how do you know that they really are free range?


Elisabeth 21-02-2013, 22:07

Yes, I buy free-range or cage-free eggs. Yes, I know that is really a misnomer since I’m buying them retail. But I hope I’m sending a message w/ my purchases that I am supporting humane treatment of food animals. I am mostly vegetarian (not vegan). I will eat cheese and eggs and sometimes cream. Otherwise I am all vegetables and alternative milks. I prefer to eat low on the food chain as that is low impact on mother earth. I realize some may just see my egg purchases as gullible or fooling myself. I do what I can w/ the resources readily available to me. Sometimes that is good enough. Sometimes it is more than most. Sometimes it does fall short.


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