Editor’s note: This is your weekly installment of images from Douglas Gayeton and Laura Howard-Gayeton’s Lexicon of Sustainability. We’ll be running one image every Friday this winter, so stay tuned. If you have your own sustainability terms, you can add them yourself to the Lexicon of Sustainability.

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Can a new word change an entire industry?

Yes. When consumers first heard the term “cage free” eggs, they voted with their wallets at their local supermarkets and much of industry has been forced to change its practices. Will it happen again when they learn about “free range” and “pasture raised” eggs?

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Alexis Koefoed of Soul Food Farm hopes consumers can learn to distinguish between “cage free,” “free range,” and “pasture raised” when they go to their local supermarket.

Cage free: Chickens that are not kept in cages. This means chickens are still confined to a barn with limited or no access to outside. The term “barn-roaming” more accurately describes this principle.

Free range: Outside the United States this term refers to a method of farming where the animals are allowed to roam freely rather than being contained in any manner. In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate solely that the animal has been allowed access to the outside. These regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time the animal must be allowed access to this space.

Pasture raised or “pastured”: Animals, like Alexis Koefoed’s chickens, that have been raised on pasture with access to shelter. This term is being used by farmers who wish to distinguish themselves from the industrialized “free-range” term [but it is not legally binding].

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If possible, try to get to know the farm and learn what’s behind the terms they use to describe the eggs you buy. And tell us what kind of eggs you buy in the comments section below!

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