Three Washington farms qualified for the highest, five-egg rating, meaning "Exemplary--beyond organic." One was our very own Skagit River Ranch. As Cornucopia puts it, "Producers in this top tier manage diverse, small- to medium-scale family farms. They raise their hens in mobile housing on well-managed and ample pasture or in ﬁxed housing with intensively managed rotated pasture. They sell eggs locally or regionally under their farm’s brand name, mostly through farmer’s markets, food cooperatives and/or independently owned natural and grocery stores and sometimes through larger chains like Whole Foods." Having visited Skagit's farm, I can vouch for the chickens running all over the place in the outdoors and sunlight, with plenty of access to pasture and their favorite all-natural food: bugs. Of the other two top-rated farms, Misty Meadows serves the Bellingham area, and Trout Lake Abbey can be found in...Trout Lake.
If, like me, you occasionally miss the Thursday market, or get there too late to get Skagit's hot-commodity eggs, you might be interested in the other organic egg ratings. Namely, the brands you can get at the store. According to the ranking, your best bets would be Wilcox Farms and Stiebrs, both of which received three-egg ratings for their commitment to organic standards and "meaningful outdoor space." Organic Valley also grabbed the three-egg mark, with some asterisks for lack of transparency in study participation and a black mark for some eggs coming from a particular industrial farm in Northern California.
The organic brands to avoid? The following brands which I've seen in local stores garnered a 1-egg rating because they are industrial operations that lack access to the outdoors or transparency in production:
- Eggland's Best
- Chino Valley Ranchers
- Horizon Organic
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene