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  • Writer's pictureLouise H Connolly MD

The Incredible Edible:


Organic Eggs? They are wonderful! Especially from our farmers markets. And they are such a perfect food! So, just how do you choose? There seem to be so many variables! Cage free, conventional, fertile, free range, omega 3, smaller, bigger, what grade, what's left, or maybe just what's on sale. This post will try to help you out. Our local Farmers Market eggs are organic and truly free range. Caveats? Organic may not be higher in omega 3's and "cage free" and "free range" do not guarantee free roving chickens.

Just like in a conventional market, eggs are segregated by color, size, and grade. The HUGE difference between farmers market eggs and eggs bought elsewhere is that farmers market eggs are freshly laid. Farmers market eggs sell out early every day because that's all the hens laid yesterday! Eggs can sit in the supermarket for up to 75 days after they are laid and still be considered fresh enough to sell. All that time they are absorbing CO2, the yolks lose their perfectly round shape, the whites get watery, the taste changes and degrades. All this is so easy to check, just look at the egg after you crack it open. Is the yolk perfectly round, popping out of the surrounding white? Then the egg was freshly laid.

Ok, you understand Egg Size right? Aren't Jumbo the most nutritious? They certainly are the most expensive. Nope, not more nutritious, just bigger. And more likely to come from older hens. The biggest determinate of egg size is hen size, not hen quality. Younger hens usually make slightly smaller eggs then big fat old lady hens. So right before the hen goes into menopause she tends to make her biggest eggs. Soon after that she is super sized for her next contribution to your larder. So, I buy the large or extra large eggs. Not the jumbos. And don't accuse me of age discrimination.

Now, what about Egg Grade? Which is better A or AA? Can an egg really get a B? Egg grade has nothing to do with size or hen age. Or whether or not the egg came out dirty or clean. And not egg intelligence. These eggs certainly didn't go to grade school.

Here's the facts. It's the shell characteristics as well how the egg trans-illuminates when held up to light. No "crazes" or micro cracks, thick uniform shell, no separation of the inner membrane from the shell, no liver spots. Then the egg gets a higher grade. Grade reflects egg quality as well as protection from degradation. Size is just size. Quality is what I am after. So I would buy higher grade and smaller size for my money. And if you buy supermarket eggs, where its really hard to tell how old the egg is, I'd only buy the highest grade which is ????

Ok, I'll tell you, I KNOW you don't know.........AA is the highest grade. Grade B is used in commercial baked goods, and there is no AAA, despite what the enthusiastic young egg salesman just told me at the farmers market. Triple A is the Auto Club.

Egg Color? No, brown eggs are NOT more healthful than white ones. It is just the color of the hen. Usually Rhode Island Red versus Silkies. No FogHorn Leghorn. However, brown is more popular than white, so it is more expensive.

Yolk Color? No, the bright dayglow orange yolks are not better for you than the pale yellow yolks. Yolk color depends on the carotenoid content of the chicken feed. Carotenoids? That's the yellow/orange/red color found in some of your favorite vegetables. There are a thousand different carotenoids in a carrot, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeanthein. So if the farmer adds some marigold powder or even orange food coloring to his chicken feed, the yolks are oranger, but not necessarily more nutritious.

Washing eggs? Most are misted to remove debris prior to being displayed. More thorough washing is a 2 edged sword. It can decrease initial bacterial contamination but can disrupt the cuticle, a micro thin "laminate" layer coating the shell protecting the inner contents.

How do I feel about egg freshness? The gestation period of a chicken is 21 days. That's how long an egg was supposed to last. So that's the maximum time I would keep it after it was laid.

So, did I up your egg IQ? Shall I threaten you with a snap quiz? .


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