Thursday, May 2, 2013

Which Egg Is Best?




Since we started eating Primal, we go through a lot of eggs!  Like 4 dozen a week.  I know that some people's reaction to that is to buy the cheapest eggs they can, but my feeling is that if eggs make up that much of our diet, I want them to be the most nutrient dense eggs I can find.  There are a ton of different eggs to choose from these days, and a lot of them are marketed as being really great for you.  So which is the best choice?  I bought five different kinds of eggs (which was all I could find in town, I'm sure there are more) to compare for you.



 1. Local Farm Eggs
These eggs were bought at the fruit stand.  They are from a small farm in a neighbouring town (we don't do much beyond backyard agriculture in my town, too many mountains!) and are grade A, Free Range.  The label says "Our Eggs are from Free Range Hens that have access to outdoor pastures and have unlimited access to feed and water".
Price per Dozen: $5.50
Colour: These eggs are the second palest of my round up.  They still have decent colour, and may have more so in the summer, it was still a bit cool when I bought them.  Still, I expected them to be darker, and an orange yolk is a sign of a nutrient dense egg.  This tells me that they aren't eating a perfect chicken diet, probably a fair bit of feed as opposed to bugs and scraps.
Ethics: It sounds like these chickens aren't treated cruelly but probably don't actually roam free all day outside.  Access to the outdoors doesn't mean they are spending their lives outside eating bugs and worms.  I'm supporting a local farm with my money, and buying them through a local business, so that's great.

2. Omega-3 Eggs
Omega-3 eggs are from hens who are fed a higher ratio of flaxseed, this gives them a yolk higher in Omega 3's and often darker in colour.  They are probably conventionally farmed (or else they would be bragging about it) but with better feed.
Price per Dozen: $3.79
Colour: The yolk is darker than the conventional eggs and darker than the farm eggs (perhaps the farm should be feeding the chickens flax?).  This is the omega-3 rich feed coming through.
Ethics:  While these eggs are slightly healthier for you, they are still a product of industrial egg farming.  The chickens did not have a happy life and you are sending your money further away through a larger grocery chain (in my case) and to a industrial farm.

My niece loves her chickens!

3. Backyard Coop
These eggs came from my brother's family.  They have chickens in their backyard.  And I mean literally in the backyard because they keep escaping and wandering around.  They hang out in trees.  It's hilarious.  I should have taken a photo because Jen (my SIL) always arranges the carton with the green and brown eggs in a pretty pattern.
Price per Dozen: Now, mine were a gift, but many people do sell extra eggs from small coops like this.  The price ranges anywhere from $3-$6 around here.  Jen says that it costs them $3.22 a dozen eggs in the Winter when they go through more feed, and $1.20 in the summer.  Of course they had to get the chickens and build the coop as well.
Colour: These eggs are bright orange, they are gorgeous.  I know that they eat some feed but also a ton of scraps and spend their days outside bugs and worms (just think of that as chocolate to chickens, they love it).  The colour doesn't lie, these are the most nutrient dense eggs.  Also, the dark colour means a stronger eggy flavour which I love.
Ethics:  It's hard to beat backyard coop eggs.  Not only are the chickens super happy, these are heritage breeds which large scale farming has pushed towards extinction.  If you buy these eggs you are supporting a neighbour.

4. Organic Free-Range
So Organic means that they are feeding them certified organic feed, and that they are treated humanely.  Free-range means they have some access to the outdoors.  This is better than "Free Run" by the way, which just means they aren't caged and wander around in a big barn.
Price per Dozen: $5.70 for medium eggs, the rest I compared are large.
Colour: These had the second best yolk, brighter than all the other yellow yolks but not orange like the backyard eggs.
Ethics:  I think these chickens were pretty happy, based on the certification and the yolk colour, but I don't know anything for sure because I have no way of tracking where they came from.  And again, the money I spend on them is mainly leaving my community.

My shopping sidekick.  That's how she smiles.

5. Conventional Eggs
These are your standard grocery store eggs.  They make no claims to greatness, because they have none.
Price per Dozen: $3.39
Colour: Pasty pale.  They have a very mild flavour.  The birds ate boring food and produced boring food.
Ethics: The chickens are battery birds from a huge farm.  They spend their lives in cages, and those cages are small.  They have their beaks cut to prevent them from pecking each other, which is easy to do and they are all stacked in together.  Your money spent on these eggs supports this.  Sorry, but it just does.

Results!
Find some backyard eggs to eat!  Seriously, I usually get the local farm eggs from the fruit stand and I think I just convinced myself to try harder to find someone with a coop to sell me some eggs on a regular basis.  And I don't think I'll be buying those Omega-3 eggs again.

5 comments:

  1. I'm not sure that free range or run means humanly treated,I read somewhere that there are eggs thar state humanly treated. Jus' saying. I'm with you on trying to find local farmed backyard eggs. Here in the sub Arctic that's hard.That's why I'll be leaving for y home in Calif. where things like this matter. Thanks for posting this great info.

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    1. Yeah, I found a few variations here: http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/confinement_farm/facts/guide_egg_labels.htmland you're right, it seems that a lot is unregulated still.

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  2. Wow, I didn't know our eggs looked that different from store bought eggs. All the others kind of creep me out when you put em all together like that. Cool post sis.

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  3. I loved your post, as I have been wondering about the colour of yokes. A local farm sells both organic and non-organic eggs. The non-organic ones are rich in colour but the organic eggs are very pale. They told me this was because the non-organic feed contains corn. Maybe they are not feeding their hens flax? Anyways the colour differences surprised me.

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