More choices mean more freedom, right? However, when it comes to food, it can be overwhelming. Today, at the food store, I found that even the egg section was overpopulated with choices. Brown eggs, white eggs, grade A, organic, cage-free, farm fresh, etc. What’s the difference aside from the price?
Brown vs White Eggs
The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is the color. Bigger chickens with red earlobes lay brown eggs, while smaller chickens with white earlobes lay the white ones. One exception to this is Araucanas and Bantams which lay green/blue eggs and have no visible earlobes.
Are Brown Eggs Healthier than White Eggs?
The hue of the egg does not indicate the quality of the egg. Brown eggs are not more healthy than white eggs and vice versa.
Why Are Brown Eggs More Expensive?
Brown eggs tend to be more expensive because they are laid by the bigger, red-earlobe chickens which require more feed. Thus, to compensate for that, those eggs are priced higher.
Why Do Brown Eggs Sometimes Taste Better?
You may have tasted brown eggs from home-raised chickens which tasted yummier and had a more defined egg yolk. The reason is not that the egg producers were probably of the red earlobe variety but the fact that they were given better feed. Better feed plays a major role in the taste and color of the yolk.
Why Do Brown Eggs Have a Harder Shell?
They don’t. White eggs have the same shell thickness as brown eggs. Eggshell toughness can be dependent on the age of the chicken. Older chickens will lay eggs that have thin shells, while younger ones will lay eggs with thicker shells.
A Guide to Egg Labels
View full size here.
Other Terms Found on Egg Packaging
Vegetarian Feed – very few farmers allow fat and animal protein in their chickens’ feed as it’s expensive. Most feed is corn and soy, which is vegetarian. However, chickens are not vegetarian, so this is hardly a benefit.
Omega-3 Enhanced – avoid these eggs as they are some of the least beneficial to you. These eggs may come from chickens that are fed Omega-3 from poor quality sources. They also tend to perish much faster than their non omega-3 enhanced counter-parts. (Source)
Cage-Free – avoid cage-free eggs as the term hardly implies that the chickens are healthy and kept in good conditions. Same amount of chickens can be stuffed in a small space outdoors as they are indoors. This overcrowding can cause stress, disease, ammonia, fighting and more.
Free-Range – this term can mean almost anything and doesn’t necessarily guarantee happy chickens and good conditions.
Grade AA or similar – eggs are graded based on the way they look and their quality. Grade AA eggs tend to have firm, thick whites and round yolks. Shells are unbroken and clean. Grade A is very similar, however, their whites may be “reasonably” firm. Grade B eggs may have wider yolks and thin whites. Their shells may be unbroken but have stains. (Source) However, this seldom guarantees that the chickens were fed well and that they were healthy.
Organic – can refer to growing without antibiotics and free-range (although vague) is a requirement. Birds are fed organic soy and corn instead of GMO counter-parts. However, chickens are omnivorous meaning they don’t typically hunt for corn.
All natural – implies that nothing was added to the eggs. However, all eggs are natural. What matters is how the chickens were raised and what they were fed.
Farm Raised – all chickens are raised on “farms”. This is typically added to make you feel that the eggs are more natural. However, if you see this label on a menu, inquire with your waiter, as it can mean that it comes from a local grower.
Pasture Raised – when buying eggs choose this. According to USDA reports, pastured eggs have 2 times more omega-3, 3 times more Vitamin E, 7 times more Beta-Carotene and 2/3 more Vitamin A. Pastured eggs also have 1/3 less cholesterol than those eggs that come from chickens fed with wheat, soy and corn. They also have less than 1/4 of the saturated fat. (Source)
Pastured egg yolk can be spotted easily due to it’s darker yellow egg yolk and it’s firm and high shape. The egg yolk retains majority of the nutrients while the white contains mostly protein.
Cooking eggs destroys many of their healthy and anti-oxidant properties. Fresh pastured eggs on the other hand, can be consumed raw or cooked very little. A great way to consume them is adding them in a low-carb smoothie or cooking them gently. Hard boiled, scrambled and microwaved eggs tend to be the least healthy. (Source)