What does free-range really mean? Well, a lot of things depending on whom you’re asking. But in the case of the Otaika Valley Free Range Egg farm, it’s pretty much exactly what the name implies. Each morning when these chickens wake up, they’ve got a busy day of, well, being chickens. Doing what chickens do. Playing how chickens play. Baths, endless green grass and sunshine await them as they leave their coops for the day.
This is about as natural as it gets for a chicken. There are some farmers experimenting with not keeping chickens indoors at all, but obviously there are weather, predator and other concerns to deal with for that option. It’s also a much bigger challenge for an egg farmer.
While the label “free range” is a step in the right direction, unfortunately, there are very few standards in America defining exactly what free range means. Still, of the labels you might see on a carton of eggs, it’s one of the best ones. Forget about “cage free.” That one’s almost meaningless. I wouldn’t recommend Googling it, either. Trust me.
The best thing you can do is find eggs at your local farmers market. If you can’t, it can pay to do a little research on the eggs your local grocer does carry. It’s not just about happy chickens, after all. It’s also about flavor. Free range eggs, especially ones that are locally produced, almost always taste way better than factory-farmed eggs. The yolks are richer, the eggs are fresher, everything about them is worth the little bit extra they charge.