After reading several articles recently on eggs it got me really thinking about eggs and the myths and incorrect information people have about eggs. I’ve been an egg eater my whole life and my whole family LOVES eggs, we eat eggs daily so we go through a ton of eggs!
Lets talk about eggs you buy at the store. There are many different types of egg farms, last year you may remember all the stories about Bird flu impacting millions of chickens at farms in the Midwest. Those are big factory farms, they have huge warehouses with row after row of cages stacked on top of each other, 3 feet by 4 feet with 3-4 hens in each cage. These chickens don’t see daylight, they have overhead lighting on them 24 hours a day to increase production so they lay an egg every single day. So when one hen got sick they all got sick and it spread like wild fire through their warehouses. Most of the cheap eggs you buy at the store are from farms like that. Those hens are battery hens, they have one purpose, to make money for the farm. They live on wire cages, they don’t have dirt to clean themselves in, they don’t get fresh foods, they have no life except that cage with their hen friends. I’m sorry but the reason those eggs have yellow yolks is because they are not healthy hens who are given a well balanced diet. So think about where all those cheap eggs are coming from next time you are picking out your eggs.
Then you see the eggs that say Cage free, did you know that they may be cage free but that doesn’t mean they are outside, that just means they could be in a big warehouse with a dirt floor with a few thousand chickens. Next you walk down a little farther and you see eggs labeled Free Range, the only requirement to put free range on the label is 15 minutes a day outside in a pasture. 15 minutes is all they need to have the free range label. Finally you come across Pasture Raised, those are the eggs that if you are going to buy eggs at the store have the best chance of being from hens being raised humanely and happily. They are raised on grass pastures all day and then go inside to sleep at night. If i was going to buy eggs at the store those are the eggs I would buy.
Yet still no eggs at the store compare to farm fresh eggs, theres no way for them to compare and its partly because of the regulations the USDA has in place for “safety” but really they are opening us up to risk. The US is the only country that requires eggs being sold in stores to be washed and then refrigerated. So let me give you a lesson on how the hen lays an egg and why washing and refrigerating are not necessary. On the day the tiny little hen hatches from her egg she has all the millions of eggs she will ever have located in her ovary. Once that hen reaches maturity she will begin to grow her yolks, it takes 24-26 hours for a yolk that has been released from the ovary to travel down the oviduct while picking up all the parts of the egg to be laid. Once the egg has been fully formed and the shell made the final stage is the egg gets its bloom. The bloom is the protective layer on the outside of the egg shell that will keep everything inside the egg safe. Any egg that you buy at the store; cheap, cage free, free range, pasture raised, and organic have all been washed with chemicals that remove the bloom, then they will coat the eggs with either mineral oil aka petroleum product or vegetable oil and since the eggs bloom was removed during washing now the porous egg shell can absorb that coating they put on it into the egg white. Thats also the reason that eggs from the store are refrigerated, its not because eggs need to be refrigerated its because they removed the protective coating so they are covering their own asses. If bacteria gets onto the egg while its in the fridge it can get into the egg and you will get sick, but with fresh unwashed eggs with their bloom intact that would not be the case. Now you know the dirty details of store bought eggs, its an ugly practice that I thankfully have not had to support in 2 years.
I get asked a lot about the color of the egg shell and I also have people tell me they only eat brown eggs because they taste better, which I unfortunately have laughed in many peoples faces when that statement gets made. The color of the shell does not determine anything about the egg, not the nutrient value, flavor, or color of yolk. The color of the shell is determined by the breed of chicken, there are many colors and varieties within each color category. If you were to get eggs from me you may get white, brown, tan, cream, dark brown, blue, light green or olive green, eggs from the blue family are blue throughout the shell but brown eggs are white that have been “painted” brown in the chickens shell maker, if you scrub hard enough on a brown egg you will get to the white shell. I guess thats part of what makes statements like “brown eggs taste better than white eggs” so hilarious to me, because they are essentially eating a white egg.
So what exactly determines the quality of the egg and the flavor? Its what the chicken eats of course. If a chicken gets to eat lots of grass and greens, bugs and worms in addition to a chicken feed, then they are going to have orange yolks. Orange yolks mean healthy nutrient rich eggs, not yellow yolks. Its funny because as I’m writing this I know that my laying flock isn’t getting as much grass as they want because we are at the muddy season in the backyard so their yolks are lightening, however because they have access to barley and weeds and other sources their yolks are still darker than anything you buy in the store. Come spring time when the grass is able to grow again, my chickens eggs will have dark orange yolks again.
Where you buy your eggs matters, so next time you are strolling through the market and trying to decide if its worth it to spend the extra money on eggs remember this blog and spend the money! I understand that not everyone has access to a farmer friend like me, but if you look a little you can find someone selling truly fresh eggs not too far from you. Support local not big factory farms who abuse these special animals who provide so much for us!
Thanks for reading!