Saturday, August 7, 2010

Brown Eggs Vs White Eggs, Winner Takes All!

If you have ever wondered what was the difference between white eggs and brown eggs, well wonder no more.
I started to buy brown eggs a couple years ago when I switched to organic eggs. I found that organic eggs were usually brown. And I always thought they were very pretty. I felt good eating them! I pay more for the eggs because they are organic, but I wondered, are all brown eggs better than white eggs? The snob in me said 'yes', the investagator in me said 'I have no idea'.
Nutritionally the inside of an egg is the same regardless of the color of the shell. For those of us that believe the early scientific findings that say that organic food contains more nutrients than conventional food, organic eggs will still be superior. But the color of the shell does not influence nutritional value. Rather the color comes from a pigment that is derived from hemglobin called protoporphyin. This pigment is also responsible for tinting the chickens feather's brown or slightly red, which is why some folks say that brown chickens lay brown eggs and white chickens lay white eggs. The white chickens simply don't have the protoporphyin.
Other interesting information, in many birds (not just chickens), protoporphyin is often laid onto the egg in the form of spots when the mother hen doesn't have enough calcium to make a shell that is hard enough. Wikipedia says that if a bird with protoporphyin lays 10 eggs it is more likely that the last eggs laid will have spots as her body has lower amounts of calcium in it after laying the first eggs. Interesting.
I think there is a common thought these days that brown eggs are more healthful than white eggs. I used to wonder if perhaps white eggs were bleached before coming to market. Well, no, consumers of yesterday overwhelmingly preferred white eggs. Hence, there were more white eggs in the store. Now the display of brown eggs is about equal in my grocery store, organic and conventional both. I like having the choice, but I definitely buy brown eggs because of some deep seated assumption that they are more natural, even though they aren't. I like my brown eggs.
And now that we have that cleared up. I am going to keep buying them.
In researching this post, I came across the transcript of an NPR interview with Marie Simmons, author of the book The Good Egg. In the interview, Simmons recounts what sounds to be a lovely recipe. Bake a potato in the oven until baked through. Remove from the oven and cut open the top. Remove some potato and put in some olive oil or butter as well as parmesean cheese. Crack an egg into a small bowl (to easily pick out any stray shells) then pour the egg into the potato. Put it back into the oven until the egg is cooked to the desired consistency. I would top with more cheese. I haven't made this-but doesn't it sound good??


  1. it sounded ok until you added an egg and cheese;) How about cheese, that just sounds worse then eating green eggs:)?

  2. I can tell the difference between brown eggs and white eggs based on taste and color of the yolk. Brown eggs (and green eggs for that matter) tend to have a brighter yolk and they taste better to me.

  3. I agree. That is why I keep buying the brown eggs. Sometimes the yolks are almost orange! I notice a big difference between grain fed (includes those on an all vegetarian diet, that means corn)chickens and grass fed. I prefer grass fed.

  4. We have many chicken breeds- white to red to brown and none of them produce a white egg. Ivory, yes but not white. To get the eggs all white like they are in stores, they are bleached. And consumers didn't prefer them like that years ago, white eggs were pushed on consumers as healthier, etc just like all the other crap that was found in a person's diet in years past (velveeta, kraft sliced cheese...)