Thursday, June 12, 2008

Lunch

Salad greens from the garden with grated carrot, cherry tomatoes and leftover hard-boiled egg.

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Shopping: none

Season with extra-virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, a little salt, freshly ground black pepper.

Here's a question: Why are brown eggs more expensive in the grocery store than plain white eggs? The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is that brown eggs are laid by brown chickens. My wife thinks this is simply a marketing scam perpetrated by the egg industry. Usually, we buy our eggs from a local farmer.

What do you think?

10 comments:

Erica said...

Ha, I've wondered this before also. Different breeds lay different colored eggs. So I have no clue why.

We get ours from a local farmer and they are all colors; white, brown, green, green blue and so forth. They have the neatest chickens, lots of rare breeds too.

tai haku said...

I don't know Ed - I do know that in the UK blue/green eggs and chocolate brown eggs are sold at awe-inspiring prices considering the shell is basically the bit you put in the bin. That said I also know when I get some chickens they'll be araucana/cotswold legbars and marans because blue/green eggs and chocolate brown eggs are really pretty.

De in D.C. said...

I agree with your wife. White eggs became the standard in the US, and then brown eggs, because they were more "rare," were deemed more valuable somehow.

We get eggs as part of our CSA share, and they come in all colors. My son likes going out to the farm and helping to collect eggs (high entertainment value for a city kid).

Ananse said...

Although it doesn't justify the price difference completely, commercial brown-egg laying chickens are not as productive as commercial white-egg laying chickens. (And Araucanas even less productive.) For a home flock, the difference is negligible, though.

sugarcreekfarm said...

Brown eggs aren't necessarily laid by brown chickens. White Rocks lay brown eggs.

I'd agree with ananse - brown egg layers are less productive. But for the most part I think the higher price is a perceived superiority of brown eggs over white eggs. In reality, as you well know, it's not the shell color but the conditions in which the hens are raised that make one egg superior to another.

Janet said...

I think your wife's right, too. The real difference is in the yolk. The eggs I get from local pastured chickens are a stunning marigold yellow as compared with the pale yolks of the commercial variety. The yolk difference is true whether the shell is brown, white, speckled or blue-green.

Great Big Veg Challenge said...

Is there any taste difference at all?
I hadn't realised that brown eggs came from brown chickens....
You learn a new thing every day.
(At least on this blog)

Ed Bruske said...

TH, I agree--colored eggs are very cool to look at. I wonder how people would react if they opened their egg cartons and found blue eggs. They'd probably jump out of their skins.

De, now I'm feeling shortchanged that the only color eggs I get in my CSA box are brown. But we do love getting local eggs delivered.

Ananse, that's the first I'd heard about a difference in productivity between brown-egg-laying chickens and white-egg-laying chickens. Do you suppose it takes more energy--more concentration--to put the brown in the egg shell? What would account for the difference.

Kelli, does that mean we need to complete dispel the notion that feather color equates with egg shell color? I think we now need to take the conversation to a new level: why do different chickens lay different colored eggs? What's the determining factor? And why are brown egg layers less productive? Or, are there simply different breeds that are more productive than others, and it has nothing to do with the color of their eggs?

Janet, you have hit on it. What really matters in egg quality is that the chickens get to act like chickens. Superior eggs come from chickens who spend their time outdoors, pecking around. You can tell free-ranging chickens by the deep orange color of their yolks, which comes from all the beta carotene they injest by pecking at and eating weeds all day. Chickens that spend their lives cooped up in close quarters eating a soy/corn feed mix lay pale, wan eggs.

Charlotte, we could talk all day long about chickens on this blog. Where do you buy your eggs? And are they brown or white? Or blue?

Ramona said...

I find brown egg shells to generally be thicker, and less prone to shatter and get into the egg when breaking. That said, I think it's a percieved superiority of brown eggs to white. To me, they seemed exotic and oh so different from the white eggs I grew up with. I remember traveling outside of Philly, into the rural burbs where farms would have signs for "brown eggs". It just sounded more fresh and right from the chicken to me back then!
Now, the best I buy is from the farmers markets, specifically Keswick, whose eggs are unriveled. But all have a deeper orange yolk, better consistency and a creamier, ,more lush texture despite the colore of the egg. But gosh, the blue ones are gorgeous. I had never seen them before getting my first dozen from Melanie.

Ed Bruske said...

Ramona, I wonder if the sturdier eggs have to do with color, or with the hens just being healthier from being able to roam outside and eat what they choose.