Weekends are for two things: sleeping and big breakfasts. Well, maybe only for big breakfasts if you have kids. I don’t, so I sleep in and then eat a big breakfast.
This past weekend I decided to try a little experiment with my breakfast. I chose two eggs–one was free range, pasture fed, hormone and antibiotic free and bought locally from my farmers market. The other egg was the grocery store brand.
Here are the eggs in question:
I took these eggs and fried them:
Notice the first egg. It looks like a nice enough egg and is frying up splendidly. But compare with the second egg. Look at that yolk! It is such a lovely shade of gold-ish orange!
Guess what I discovered after my very serious eggsperiment? The grocery store egg didn’t taste like much, but the free range egg tasted like the best egg I’ve ever had. The yolk was rich and velvety, not thin and translucent, like that other egg. And the egg white had more body and “fluffiness.” Here’s another comparison:
The color of an egg yolk is determined by a chicken’s diet. Yolks from caged birds that do not have access to green vegetation (grass) and little to no sunlight, like my grocery store egg, will be a paler color. Free range chickens that eat grass, leaves, bugs and roam around in the daylight will lay eggs with much darker yellow to almost orange yolks.
In my opinion, a darker, bolder-in-color yolk translates to more flavor and richness. Happier chickens mean better yolks and superior eggs. Superior eggs mean more nutrition. Based on a 2007 study, eggs from free range hens are much more nutritious than factory farm eggs. More vitamin D (4-6 times more), more omega-3 fatty acids (2 times more), more vitamin E (3 times more), and less cholesterol and saturated fat–all wrapped up in a tastier, fluffier egg. I’m sold!
So where can you buy these amazing eggs? I get mine from my farmers market and sometimes from Toby of Bayberry Farm. You can get them there too, or from your own farmers market, or better yet, from your hen-keeping neighbor. Unfortunately, cartons in the grocery store marked “free-range” or “cage free” are neither. The hens may have access to the outside, but they rarely make it there, which means no foraging for grass and bugs and no sunlight. If I absolutely have to buy from the grocery store, I buy Certified Organic and Pasture Raised, but if you want to know more about egg labels so you can choose for yourself, click on these links: Egg Carton Label Guide, Unscrambling the Claims (NY Times article).
Did I mention that my entire breakfast Saturday morning was local? It was simple, but so delicious. The egg was the best part, of course.