Most eggs sold in Canada are “cage eggs” – produced by hens kept in wire cages that are stacked one on top of the other. Determining which eggs were laid by happy hens is difficult, and labels can be misleading.
“Fresh” or “farm-fresh” are labels that mean virtually nothing. Farm-fresh eggs could very well have been produced by hens in poor living conditions.
Omega-3 eggs are produced by hens that consume flaxseed as part of their feed. All eggs contain some omega-3 fatty acids, however, and the amount can be increased simply by allowing hens to forage in pasture.
Free-range eggs are produced by hens that have access to nest boxes and the outdoors for a limited amount of time per day in warm seasons, though conditions may still be over-crowded and inhumane.
The colour of an egg simply depends on the type of hen that lays it. Brown eggs tend to be more expensive, not because their nutritional value is any higher, but because of a smaller provincial supply.
The best way to ensure that the eggs you buy were laid by a happy hen is to purchase certified organic eggs, which are produced by organically fed, uncaged hens with access to the outdoors, although no government body audits certification.