There is a surprising amount of variation in egg quality when you dig into the certifications, feeds, and practices used for laying hens. While most people choose organic eggs for the GAPS Diet, there are some people for whom that quality alone may not be enough. If you find yourself or your family in any of the situations listed below, consider a higher quality option and ask, do you need corn and soy-free eggs on GAPS?
Do you need corn and soy-free eggs on GAPS?
Here are the situations where I find corn and soy-free eggs to be worth seeking out:
- When you have known IgE allergies, or strong sensitivities, to corn or soy, based on testing or observation
- Anyone who is highly sensitive or allergic to many foods to begin with
- People with major mood or neurological issues, including Lyme Disease and mold toxicity
- Babies with FPIES or failure to thrive
- Children with PANDAS, non-verbal autism, or who express aggression
- People with severe eczema or other skin rashes
- Anyone with major histamine issues (in this case you will also need to seek duck eggs, as well as meat, poultry, and fish that are corn and soy-free)
Decoding labels to find corn and soy free eggs
The terms “organic,” “non-GMO” and “pastured raised” do not denote corn and soy-free feed.
An organic certification on eggs means the chickens were fed an all-organic diet, which includes corn and/or soy in most cases.
Non-GMO corn and soy-free means they are using a commercial feed that contains legumes or grains, which may be heavily sprayed with pesticides. This does not mean the feed is organic.
Pasture raised is the most confusing term when dealing with farms. It means that the animals were grazing or living outdoors for at least 120 days a year, rather than in an indoor confined feeding operation. It does not mean the animals are exclusively eating wild foods. Most animals on pasture are given supplemental feed, and pastured does not mean the feed is organic, GMO-free, or biologically appropriate.
Understanding these terms will help you decode the labels on the eggs you’re buying, or empower you to ask specific questions of farms you’re considering buying from.
What chickens eat naturally
Chickens (and other poultry including turkey and ducks) naturally forage through grass for bugs, grubs, etc. They eat wheat and other small grain or grass seeds. They do not eat corn or soy in the wild. Organic chickens are most often fed organic corn and soy. Corn and soy are not properly digested by the birds and the proteins finish up in their eggs and meat and aggravate sensitivities in the humans that consume them. This is especially true if you have a known allergy (IgE) to corn or soy.
Non-organic GMO-free chickens are usually fed peas that are heavily sprayed with pesticides. On small farms in temperate climates, hens may be fed scraps from the household and forage for the rest of their needs, but most chickens and hens receive some type of supplemental feed.
When you don’t find a source of corn and soy-free eggs
If you don’t come across a local producer of corn and soy free eggs, ask farmers if they’d be willing to produce this for you. They might have a minimum they’ll raise and you may need to join with friends to meet the minimum purchase amount. Farmers raise the foods that consumers want – and that we are willing to pay for. That’s how they make a sustainable living. We are part of a movement that requires the best and most natural animal products, which brings more interest from farmers to raise them.
Questions to ask when you’re seeking corn and soy-free eggs for GAPS
When you’re seeking a specific level of quality foods, it’s important to ask questions and be clear about what you are getting. This requires time and investigation up front, but once you’ve gotten your trusted sources settled, you’ll buy from them for years to come and will rarely have to think about this again. When you can, it’s helpful to visit a farm and see their animals and how they operate.
Skip asking general questions like, “what are your practices?”, because it’s easy for people to be evasive or just give you their sales pitch. The questions below will get you specific information and let the producer know that you’re a discerning customer.
- What feed do you use? (Brand, or ingredients)
- What do you spray on your fields?
- When do you use antibiotics?
- When do you give other medications?
- Do you use vitamin or mineral supplements?
- Do you vaccinate your animals?
- What outdoor access do they have and how much time do they actually spend outdoors?
- What is their water source?
There is not one correct answer to these questions – they are designed to help you decide the best option for you.
Food quality and sourcing can be intimidating areas when you’re getting started on the GAPS Diet. Many people start the GAPS Intro Diet and find that when they introduce egg yolks on Stage 2, or egg whites on Stage 3, that symptoms return, or new ones crop up. Rather than leaving out eggs entirely at this point, I look at my clients’ overall health presentation to see if they can find an alternative egg source that will allow them to enjoy eggs without increasing inflammation.