, What Are You Eating?Are Brown Eggs Really Better Than White?

Are Brown Eggs Really Better Than White?

In “The Power of A Twenty Dollar Bill,” our heroes show us how to get by healthily on a mere $20.

However, a commenter noted how much the pair were paying for a dozen eggs, as the two were buying a dozen brown eggs.

It completely slipped my mind, but let’s debunk this (and a few other myths along the way.) We’ll start with the transcript of a lovely interview from NPR’s All Things Considered:

DEBBIE ELLIOTT, host: From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I’m Debbie Elliott. This is the week of the egg. Passover has begun, where a roasted egg sits on the Seder plate as a symbol of the cycle of life or of mourning, depending on who you ask. And of course tomorrow is Easter where eggs, dyed or chocolate, celebrate the Resurrection.

We thought it was as good a week as any to find out the answer to a question that’s been nagging us. Why are some eggs white and some eggs brown? And who better to pose that question to than Marie Simmons, author of cookbook The Good Egg. Ms. Simmons, chime right in.

Ms. MARIE SIMMONS (Author, The Good Egg): Well, brown eggs come from chickens who have brown feathers. It’s as simple as that, and white eggs come from chickens that have white feathers. Brown eggs are totally equal in nutritional value. It’s just a matter of regional preferences.

ELLIOTT: So once you open the egg…

Ms. SIMMONS: They’re all the same in the inside. Of course, there are beautiful blue and pale green and tan-shelled eggs, and they come from a rare breed called the Araucana, but those are a mostly what we would maybe call boutique chickens, and they’re not the kind of eggs you’re going to find everywhere, but…

ELLIOTT: So you don’t necessarily have to dye your eggs to get those pretty colors. You just have to find a rare chicken.

Ms. SIMMONS: That’s right.

ELLIOTT: So why is it that white eggs are the ones that we tend to think of and see in the grocery store most often?

Ms. SIMMONS: Our supermarkets have both. We have white and brown eggs, but I think it’s the consumer demand for the white egg, or the preference, that is the reason that we are supplied most likely in supermarkets with white eggs.

Let’s follow that up with this from The Straight Dope:

According to the Egg Nutrition Board (and who should know better?), “White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. There is no difference in taste or nutrition between white and brown eggs.” The people at Crisco (who may know even more than the egg nutritionists) go further to say, “They simply come from two different breeds of chickens. Brown eggs, however, are more expensive because the chickens that lay them eat more than those that lay white eggs.” Among the breeds that lay brown eggs are the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire and the Plymouth Rock–all larger birds that require more food.But Bill Finch of the Mobile Register suggests that brown eggs may have tasted better at one time. He says, “For years, the chickens preferred by commercial growers happened to lay white eggs. A few smart cooks sought out brown eggs because most of the home-reared American flocks, which had access to flavor-enhancing weeds and bugs, happened to lay brown eggs. Commercial egg producers eventually got wise to this. They started raising chickens that laid brown eggs, and charged a premium for them at the store.

“But because the white AND brown grocery-store eggs are the result of the same bland commercial diet, their eggs taste exactly the same. Many people still apparently don’t realize they’ve been duped at their own game.”

Another:

  • In general, consumers in the Northeast of the US prefer brown eggs, so most hens there are Rhode Island Reds, which produce brown eggs. Consumers in other parts of the country prefer white eggs, so most hens used elsewhere are White Leghorns, which produce white eggs.
  • Brown eggs generally are more expensive because the Rhode Island Reds are bigger birds and eat more, which means it is more expensive to maintain them.
  • Free-range eggs are produced by hens that are not kept in cages but live on an open floor, and not necessarily outside. These eggs are produced on a seasonal basis.
  • The overall size and weight of an egg is an indicator of the health, breed, and maturity of the hen that laid it. Healthier, larger, and older hens produce larger eggs. Poor nutrition, stress, heat, and overcrowding can make hens produce smaller eggs.
  • Similarly, the thickness of the egg’s shell is determined by the age of the hen and the hen’s nutrition. The healthier the hen, the thicker the shell. At the same time, older hens produce larger eggs. Larger eggs have a thinner shell, just because there’s more area to cover. If a larger egg has a thinner shell, that may have more to do with the age of the hen rather than its health.
  • So if the eggshell is thicker, it’s not because it’s a brown egg. It’s most likely because the hen is healthier, or older, or living under better conditions. [source]

Annnnnnd another:

Eggshell color does not affect an egg’s nutritional value, quality, flavor, cooking characteristics, or shell thickness, says Emily Cooper, media spokesperson for the American Egg Board.

The difference is that they are more expensive. At CHOW’s local Safeway, one dozen Grade AA, extra-large white eggs from Lucerne sell for $3.19. Their brown counterparts, same size and grade, go for $3.98 per dozen. So why the higher price?

Hens that produce brown eggs are larger than white-egg-producing hens, and require more feed and care; that extra expense is passed on to the consumer. Although it might be cheaper to raise white-egg-producing hens, brown eggs continue to sell well, so they’re still a smart business choice for farmers. [source]

Can we now lay the brown egg vs white egg game to rest? And furthermore, can we stop spnding all of our hard earned pennies on an unnecessary expense?

By | 2017-07-25T00:54:15+00:00 December 18th, 2014|Debunking The Myths, What Are You Eating?|18 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.

18 Comments

  1. Qalil Little June 20, 2011 at 9:55 AM - Reply

    Brown eggs look better in my white refridgerator 🙂

    Thank you for the article! I think sometimes we all get duped by the commercials and the same psychological manipulation is worked on in the grocery store. More expensive usually translates to “healthier” and we all know what that is really about.

    Qalil.com

  2. Lex June 20, 2011 at 11:23 AM - Reply

    I sweat I was just thinking account this yesterday when I was picking up eggs from the grocery store. Another marketing ploy

  3. Shante June 20, 2011 at 2:39 PM - Reply

    I buy brown cage free or organic eggs. Regardless of what anyone says I’ll still buy them. When I crack one of them open the yolk is orange. That is what I go for. Healthy looking yolks. I hate eggs that have pale yellow yolks. I also hate cooking with them, especially if I am making a vanilla sauce or ice cream base. Personally I don’t view it as an unnecessary expense but that’s just me.

    • Kim June 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM - Reply

      I buy the organic browns for the same reason – the rich colored and flavored yolk which is indicative of a chicken which has been raised on grasses and / or corn versus the wheat-based diet of those chickens which produce yolks that are lighter in color. There are companies that produce white eggs from chickens that have been fed the alternate diet, but the brown ones I purchase are actually less expensive.

      Nutritionally speaking, the two eggs may be similar, but the darker yolk appears “richer” in the dishes that you utilize them in… since a lot of how we experience food is wrapped in the senses of sight, smell, and taste, the eggs from the chickens fed the alternative diet provide a sensory boost and I would say that they taste ever so slightly different as well, but then I would say you can tell the difference in milk from cows from different dairies because the feed is slightly different and it comes through in the milk. Maybe that is just psychological or maybe it came from time spent growing up on a farm and tasting things firsthand where the feed changes seemed dramatic to me.

  4. Michelle of Chellbellz June 20, 2011 at 3:12 PM - Reply

    I like brown eggs because they are brown! Fight the power! just kidding, but seriously there is no difference i’ve known for awhile lol.

    • keisha brown March 13, 2013 at 10:01 PM - Reply

      LMFAO!

  5. Katy B June 20, 2011 at 3:41 PM - Reply

    Now the color of the egg doesn’t matter a bit, but the difference between cage free and non-cage free is HUGE. Most chickens we eat and who lay our eggs are stacked 10+ overcrowded cages high. Not only is this practice cruel, but eggs are porous. So when all those chickens sh** and it falls down each level and lands on your future breakfast, at least some of that chicken waste can be absorbed into your non-cage free eggs.

    In this case, it is better for your health, the treatment of animals, and the world to spend more money on the organic cage free type. Or better yet, find a local farmer, or raise your own chickens!

    • Sarah June 21, 2011 at 11:44 AM - Reply

      The best eggs I’ve found are pastured eggs, where the chickens are actually out in the yard, pecking and nibbling and being regular old chickens.

      I cracked one of them open next to one of the cage-free, organic, Omega-3 eggs that we had been getting–and the difference between the yolks was like night and day.

      The brand we get, Vital Farms, is pricey in comparison to conventional eggs($6/dozen), but, if you can swing it, they’re pretty darned good.

      Another thing to keep in mind is that, depending on where you live, you can keep chickens (even in urban areas). The ultimate fresh egg!

    • Valarie November 4, 2011 at 10:23 AM - Reply

      Actually, the chickens in “battery cages” stacked 10+ high are also housed on slanted floors so eggs roll down the floor and into a little chute that rolls them to the end of the row for collecting and machine handling. This prevent fecal contamination. In most large egg production facilities the eggs are not touched by human hands until they reach the grocery store. They do this so they know that if their is something wrong with the eggs(like Salmonella), it came directly from the chickens, not from human handlers.

    • keith bennet July 27, 2012 at 2:19 PM - Reply

      As for the brown shell v. white shell controversy, well brown shell eggs result in more environmental degradation and pollution because the meat type chickens that produce brown shell eggs eat, drink, and crap more than a white leghorn or white shell egg laying bird. A dark yellow or orange egg yoke means the hen who produced it ate more animal protein or wee (and sometimes large) animals like baby rats, mice, small shakes or even road kill.

      Also I hardly think that chicken sh** falling on a hen’s egg is anything for you to be concerned about.
      Katy, the eggs laid by every hen on Earth are produced in their entirety inside a hens’ A** . Considering where the eggs are produced, whether a little chicken manure comes into contact with the shell after the egg is laid is of no concern. The use of “Natural” fertilizers on “Organic” vegies is a much bigger and real health problem. Anyway hens’ eggs all have porous external shells suitable for a cute fuzzy little baby chick to breath through while it develops and before it pips. If you were half as smart as you think, I would not need to correct your chicken sh** understanding of mother nature or the noble hen.

  6. Daphne June 20, 2011 at 4:29 PM - Reply

    Interesting! So essentially, the key is the chickens’ diet.

  7. Abutta June 20, 2011 at 5:57 PM - Reply

    Thanks for the info. I always bought brown eggs because as a child I thought the brown chickens were like the “black folks” of chicken. Lol! I guess I could stop wasting my money.

  8. Alasha June 21, 2011 at 5:01 AM - Reply

    The brown eggs really aren’t more expensive, for me. There’s a farmer’s market in my neighborhood, and I prefer getting cage-free eggs…the browns and the whites are the exact same price. Brown is just a default preference because my grand-dad prefers them ( and they probably did taste differently when he was a young man), and hey, I’m brown, LOL

  9. CJM June 21, 2011 at 4:58 PM - Reply

    In our grocery stores brown cage free eggs come cheaper than the white ones. But that might speak to that regional preference thing. I live in the south so perhaps the preference for white eggs makes them more expensive once you go cage free. So I buy the brown ones.

  10. ChasingSixPacks June 21, 2011 at 6:42 PM - Reply

    I only buy organic eggs, especially after the situation with eggs last year and the salmonella outbreak. I noticed that none of the organic eggs were touched. I’m not saying they are infallible, but for years, I’ve been eating organic for the last two years and those eggs are brown. If I can find organic white eggs, I’ll eat them. They just need to be organic.

    Organic eggs are helpful because the hens that eat them eat a healthy, natural, normal diet. That in turn adds much needed nutrients to the egg, like omega-3s (naturally) and other nutrients that gets passed on to us, minus all the other crap. And with cage-free eggs, that’s not always good because many times that’s a lie or the hens are still treated terribly and given chemicals.

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