Under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program, organic eggs must come from chickens that are raised cage-free, fed an organic diet grown without pesticides, managed without antibiotics and hormones, and have seasonal access to the outdoors.
But not all organic egg producers agree on the definition of “outdoor access.” In fact, their definitions, and practices, can differ immensely.
For example, White Oak Pastures in southwestern Georgia has about 4,000 egg-laying chickens that are pasture-raised. By contrast, Country Hen in central Massachusetts houses 80,000 chickens mostly indoors, allotting 1.5 square feet per bird—“outside access” for all those birds amounts to a covered porch.
Very different practices, but both labeled organic.