Eggs are a wonder food. Not only are they packed with nutrition, but they are outrageously delicious and there are countless ways to serve them up. Fried, poached, over easy, sunny side up, scrambled, on toast, with rice…… and the list goes on and on.
In New York, I was able to score a dozen eggs for $.79 USD from a ultra budget food store called Western Beef. If time didn’t allow a trip to Chelsea, I could count on Trader Joe’s for a $.99-$1.29 carton. Holy frugal!
Upon relocating to Tasmania, Australia, I’ve adapted to a few cultural changes: the steering wheel is on the other side of the car, you call red pepper “capsicum”, and instead of being wary of deer crossing you need to look out for wallabies and wombats. There’s also a different food culture that prioritizes local, pesticide free, organic products over “food” that has a shelf life of 25 years thanks to all the preservatives and chemicals (The United States…I’m talking about you!!!) Of course you can still score packaged treats like Oreos and Cup ‘O Noodles, but as a whole, the food is “cleaner” (for lack of a better word) than what you’d find in a standard American super market.
Despite the higher quality of food, the prices aren’t outrageously different when you account for the exchange rate. Items like chicken, beef, spinach, frozen veggies, and ice cream are more or less the same. Eggs, however, are an exception. Even the cheapest grocery store eggs are more than double the price of my Western Beef staples!!!
They may double the price, but are they twice as good?
Even the cheapest dozen ($3.50 AUD) holds 12 little nutrition power houses with a deep orange yolk, a rich flavor, and a velvety texture. For a real treat, I’ll get a carton of farm fresh eggs for $6.50-$8 AUD and OH MAN are they delicious.
In classic Katie fashion, I had to learn more. What’s the deal with yolk color and shell thickness? Why the heck do some eggs go in the fridge but other’s can be on the counter? Here’s what I found out:
Why are eggs refrigerated in some places but not in others? What’s the deal with that?
In some countries, like the United States and Australia, you’ll find the eggs in the refrigerated section. In other countries, however, you’ll see crates piled up on the dry goods shelves. What’s the deal with that?
It’s because of the different techniques for reducing the risk of salmonella!
One method involves sanitizing the egg itself. The process wipes clean the contaminants off the egg shell, but it strips away a natural protective coating in the process, leaving the egg vulnerable to nasty bacteria that can freely sneak into the egg at any sign of moisture. Thus, these eggs need to be kept in the refrigerator to keep them cool to prevent condensation.
In most European countries, however, the eggs don’t go through the extensive washing process because the hens are treated for salmonella via a vaccine. No washing process means the protective layer stays intact, which keeps out harmful bacteria that may grow due to outside moisture. Click HERE to learn more!
What’s the deal with yolk color?
Some egg yolks are a bright and vibrant orange (like the ones in the Hobart super markets), while others are a light and pasty yellow (Western Beef I’m looking at you!) What’s the deal with that?
Instinct told me that the brighter orange yolk was an indicator of more nutrition and a better fed chicken; my instinct was correct.
A beautiful orange yolk comes from a diet heavy in carotenoids. which can be found in tasty treats like fresh grass and leafy greens as well as bugs like grasshoppers and worms; the diet of free range chickens. A lighter yolk, on the other hand, indicates a diet high in corn and wheat; the diet of chickens in cages.
While the fat and protein content are more or less the same, THIS STUDY found that brighter orange yolks did in fact have more omega-3s and vitamins. Not to mention, the deeper the color, the deeper the flavor.
Alright now let’s talk about shell thickness….
Some eggs will crack open if you breathe on them too hard while others take a little bicep strength. What’s the deal with that?
A thinner shell is due to a multitude of reasons, none of which are good, including calcium deficiency, vitamin D3 deficiency, excitable hens, excess phosphorus, poor water quality, higher stress levels, and the hens are typically older. Click HERE for more.
A thicker shell is due to, well, the opposite of those things. A young chicken with a healthy diet and low stress levels will pop out eggs with a delightfully thick shell.
What about color? Are brown eggs better than white eggs?
Brown eggs are more expensive, and brown equates to health, right? Brown rice, brown bread, brown crackers… you get the picture. So brown eggs must be far superior to white eggs!
White and brown eggs have the same nutritional profile, but they simply come from different breeds of hens. Hens that produce brown eggs are bigger, meaning they require more food, resulting in higher egg prices.
Businesses are privy to the fact that a thick shell and a vibrant yolk are desirable traits, and they have devised various additives and chemicals to achieve said traits. So, even though the pricier $4 super market dozen might have the “farm fresh” look, that doesn’t mean the chickens were actually free range or treated well. If flavor is your goal, no harm no fowl. If your egg choice stems from caring for the animals, look further into the company.
When it comes to eggs, usually, you get what you pay for. It should be no surprise that a dozen egg that costs $.79USD will have thin shells, light yellow yolks, and hardly any flavor. If you’re willing to spare the extra $$$, you will likely get a better product.
Want more fun food facts? Check out these posts!:
What makes french fries “French?” Both France and Belgian claim to be the inventors of the french fry, and I dive into both sides to find out who is right!
Do you know why red meat is red? Find out here.
A look into National Pancake Day and different types of “Pancakes” across the globe!