Is an egg an egg? Well, our first laying hens finally started maturing and laying some eggs. They’re still teenagers, so they’re laying mini eggs at the moment. I decided to go to the local grocery store and buy a dozen bargain-basement eggs ($2.09 per dozen), high-end organic ($5.99 per dozen), and compare it with an egg from our chickens.
Here are the eggs lined up. The white egg is the bargain-basement egg, the brown egg is the organic egg, and the green egg is ours. The shell color is determined by the breed of chicken, and there are fantastic breeds that lay white, brown, green and blue shelled eggs, and you can get fantastic and awful eggs from all those breeds depending on how they are raised. The white egg was presumably laid by a White Leghorn, which is the queen of the commercial egg laying industry. The brown egg could have come from many breeds, and there’s not a complete standard breed for commercial brown egg production. The green egg is from an Ameraucana. As far as anyone knows, there is no significant difference between the egg qualities of different breeds of chicken. (However, different breeds in a pastured environment may spend different amounts of time foraging for food. The more time spend foraging for bugs and greens, the yummier the egg. However, if the different breeds are kept in an environment of controlled feed, there is no measurable difference between the eggs, at least nutritionally.)
So, don’t judge an egg by its cover. Here they are cracked open.
Those are the eggs cracked open. Left is the bargain-basement egg, middle is organic, and right is the pastured egg. Note that the yolk color deepens from left to right. The continual access to fresh greens means that the chickens are getting plenty of colorful nutrients that are showing in the yolk. Of course, in a commercial environment, one could supplement the diet with colorful nutrients to get a bolder looking yolk. However, the fresh greens from the pasture surely contain many other beneficial nutrients that cannot be visually seen in the yolk.
Finally, I tossed them in the frying pan. Left is bargain-basement, top is organic, and right is our egg. The yolk of the organic egg broke apart upon rolling into the pan. Note that our egg is firm an upright, and a large portion of the white is sticking together. This probably has a lot to do with freshness. Due to the extremely short supply chain of local eggs, it is feasible to get an egg that was laid that same day. Such a thing is near to impossible with the long supply chain of commercial eggs, whether organic or non-organic. Now, there are times when you want an egg that’s not quite as new. For example, hard boiled eggs are significantly easier to peel if they’re a bit older. But if you want the freshest egg, your best bet is to get it directly from the farmer.