So, what’s all the egg hoopla? Is there really much difference in farm vs. store eggs? It seems so.
According to a recent study on Mother Earth News, farm eggs have 4-6 times more vitamin D. Free range farm eggs also contain:
- 1⁄3 less cholesterol
- 1⁄4 less saturated fat
- 2⁄3 more vitamin A
- 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
- 3 times more vitamin E
- 7 times more beta carotene
These results came from 14 flocks of free range hens around the country. Free range eggs are superior to commercially produced eggs. Naturally raised hens that are allowed to run in the grass and eat worms and bugs are healthier. These hens are disease resistant and generally don’t need antibiotics. Hens raised in confined areas are given antibiotics on a regular basis to keep them healthy. This leads to overuse of antibiotics which leads to resistance in hens and the humans that eat those hens. This is what creates superbugs. These superbugs cannot be treated with multiple types of antibiotics. According to Web MD, 2 million people a year get sick with a superbug.
Now let’s look at yolk color, taste and duration. Can you guess which yolk is from a real free range hen?
Yes, you guessed it, the darker yolk is from a free range hen. Why is the color so different?
1. The color is determined by the type of diet. Orange yolks are a sign of a well-balanced and highly nutritious diet. A few things factor into the making of a darker yolk: carotenoids, omega-3 and meats.
- The carotenoids that give the yolk it’s color are called xanthophylls. Xanthophylls come from leaves and most green plants your chickens will consume if they are able to free range.
- Omega-3 can be increased in the eggs by feeding the chicken things like: oyster shells, crushed egg shells, flax seed, and kelp. You’ll also notice the free range eggshells are denser and harder to crack.
- Meats can also change the color of the yolk and add more nutrition. Do you know chickens are not vegetarian? Despite what is printed on the egg carton at the store. Chickens love meat. They love meal worms, beetles, grasshoppers, ticks, and any other creepy crawly thing they can get out of the ground.
2. Taste – is there a taste difference in free range farm eggs vs. store bought? Some folks will say, “yes” while others will say, “no.” How can that be? According to Pat Curtis, a poultry scientist at Auburn University: “People’s perception of egg flavor is mostly psychological. If you ask them what tastes best, they’ll choose whatever they grew up with, whatever they buy at the market. When you have them actually taste, there’s not enough difference to tell.” The only time you maybe able to tell is if the free range chicken gets into an onion patch or another strong flavored plant. What are your thoughts on this study? Can you tell a difference in taste?
3. Duration – do farm fresh eggs last longer? Farm fresh eggs don’t need refrigerated if you leave the bloom on the eggs. But 1 day on the counter is equivalent to 7 days in the fridge. Eggs will last 7 times longer when refrigerated. Farm eggs will last 6 weeks unrefrigerated and 6 months refrigerated. Store bought eggs can be anywhere from 3 weeks to 3 months old when you buy them. General recommendations is using the store bought eggs within 3-5 weeks of purchase. Here’s an article on breaking the egg carton code. So, the fresher the egg, the longer you can store it.
So, what are your options if you don’t have a way to raise chickens? Knowing where your eggs come from is the best solution. Find a local farmer or farmers market. Ask them if their chickens are allowed to free range. If you are in a pinch and have to buy eggs at the store, organic eggs are the best option but keep in mind the chickens are probably still confined to a smaller area which means no access to green grass. Although, they are allowed outside, it doesn’t mean they are truly free range. A great resource is from Dr. Mercola: Why You Don’t Want to Buy Organic Eggs at the Grocery Store.