What Kind of Eggs are you eating?

So many options to choose from – that seem to grow rapidly every day. Yellow and white on the inside, neatly held together by a hard shell. Delicate, yet sturdy – completely dependent upon how you hold it. Put one in your palm and try …

So many options to choose from – that seem to grow rapidly every day.

Yellow and white on the inside, neatly held together by a hard shell.  Delicate, yet sturdy – completely dependent upon how you hold it. Put one in your palm and try to break it with just one hand.  How you hold it will determine the outcome.

You know you want to try that, admit it… Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.

Do you have a mess to clean up?

Or are you frustrated that you couldn’t break Humpty Dumpty?

With so many nutrients stored in such a small package, its no wonder eggs are so popular.  Such a versatile food option.  Scrambled, fried, poached, over medium (my favorite), raw, deviled, and with other added ingredients you can even get pancakes!

Now that they are okay to eat again according to the FDA, we are being bombarded with choices on the type of eggs. (FYI: The FDA tends to lag on recommending exactly what is healthy vs harmful. Not necessarily through fault of their own)

What are our choices when grocery shopping?

  • White

  • Brown

  • Standard

  • Cage Free

  • Free Range

  • Organic

  • Pasteurized

  • Pasture Raised

So many options, it can get confusing really fast. If cost of those natural protein-packed pills weighs in heavily, which should you choose?  How many eggs are recommended?  Who decides all this?

What do each of these options actually mean?

Does it really matter if I choose organic or non-organic?  

What’s the difference between pastured eggs and eggs that have been pasteurized?

Pastured vs Free-Range?

Cage free vs Organic?

Ready for the quick rundown?  Here we go!

White vs Brown eggs – completely dependent upon the type of hen that is laying the eggs.  The hen’s coloring specifically.  Brown eggs tend to be a tad bit more expensive, but the nutritional value is virtually identical.  Color of the shell does not really make a difference.

Standard (Caged) – Caged eggs are your basic standard, run of the mill eggs.  These egg cartons are not labeled with anything other than size and grade.  They are your bottom of the barrel, commercially farmed hens in stacked cages (battery cages), beaks/wings clipped to prevent cannibalism or self-injury, with no access to sunlight (or artificial light).  Pretty dismal.

Cage-Free – A step up from standard eggs. However, not a big step. While the hens are no longer in solitary confinement, they often still fit the bill for standard eggs.  Beaks and wings clipped, little to no sunlight in a barn-type facility, and very little personal space (roughly the size of a standard letter-sized sheet of paper).

Free Range – Another tiny step up.  Itty-bitty, teen-tiny.  Free range hens are allowed “some exposure to outdoors at some time in their life” according to SFGate. What? Yep. Oh, how the egg industry crafts their trade!  These hens are not guaranteed grassy yards or allowed to actually roam free on a range, like the term would imply.

Organic – When eggs are ‘Certified Organic’, this means the hens are fed organic feed.  It does not specify what that feed is.  Guess what? Hens/chickens are NOT vegetarians…. Chickens eat bugs and worms. So when you see a label that the chickens are fed an all-vegetarian diet, that means they are not getting the nutrients they would normally eat on a farm.

Pasteurized – When something is pasteurized, in undergoes a washing process of sorts.  This involves heating the egg enough to kill the bacteria, but not enough to actually cook the egg. Pasteurized eggs are a better option when choosing to consume raw.

Pasture Raised – This is the gold standard for eggs if you have to buy them in a grocery store. They are also the most expensive.  I doubt if you are paying upwards of $8 per dozen eggs, you will be throwing away the yolks.  After all, the yolk is where all the nutrition is contained (the white contains allergens, FYI).  Pasture raised eggs are by far the healthiest eggs.  Each hen gets plenty of room to roam, root, dig, scratch, get sunlight, and socialize.  The shells are healthier (harder), and the yolks are rich with a deeper yellow, even sometimes orange color.

If you are blessed enough to own space to have your own hens, congrats!  You have access to a potent protein source!  When I’ve been lucky enough to have access to fresh eggs from someone I know, its a reason for celebration.  These eggs just taste better!   

Can you do me a favor?

No more egg-white omelettes.  

You get calories, but no nutrition.  

As Liz Wolfe would say, Eat the Yolks!


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