Please, if you can, please, buy free-run or free-range eggs. If not out of compassion, for the sake of the poor chickens themselves, then do it for your health. As one smart kid said “we can either pay the farmer, or pay the hospital.”
Research is showing that eggs from battery-raised hens (ie: several hens crowded into cramped cages, leading lives of abject misery- and apparently 95% of egg-laying hens in America are raised this say) are more likely to carry salmonella than eggs from hens not raised in caged housing. This result appears to arise from a combination of several factors that characterize conventional (ie: industrial) hen housing.
I find that yes, free-run or free-range eggs can be a bit more expensive, but often not by much. There is something deeply disturbing about very cheaply priced food. I can either buy a dozen conventionally raised eggs for about $2.89, or go to the weekly Farmers Market and buy a dozen free-range/run eggs for $3.50. Or get them at the grocery store for $4.29 (and lately I’ve been in that “vote with your dollar” mindset, and purposefully buying the eggs from the grocery store, in hopes of encouraging the manager to always have them available over the regular eggs. The egg vendors at the Farmers Market often sell out by the time I get to them anyway). For me it is worth it for guilt-free eating, and since I shop so frugally otherwise I am happy to spend a little extra to support the well-being of cage free hens- and the health of my loved ones. If you think of the cost of eating out once a week, and instead use that money to buy free-range meat and eggs, you are already coming out ahead. Instead of buying expensive, over-priced (*1), bottled pasta sauce, buy a can of tomatoes and make your own- then use the money you saved to buy free-range eggs. You’ll make your dollar go further, you’ll know exactly what you are feeding yourself and your family, and the earth and chickens will thank you.
1. I realize I am being hypocritical by first saying that super-cheap food is disturbing, and then claiming bottled pasta sauce is overpriced. But once you realize just how damn cheap (and easy and tasty!) it is to make your own pasta sauce, I think you will agree with me.