Eggs are the king of the kitchen – at least in my house. No matter the time of the day or the flavor I’m feeling, eggs are at the center of my plate.
Scrambled, sunny side up, poached or hardboiled, those delectable, nutrient-dense delights come in a variety of sizes and colors…and prices.
Consumers are often all too familiar with the subtle price differences between brown and white eggs. But most people don’t have an explanation for the discrepancy.
The secret really isn’t so much of a secret. It’s all comes down to science.
Sharman Hicknman, the director of community outreach and education for Hickman’s Family Farms, explained that eggshell color (and therefore price) is based on genetics. And yet, for the consumer, there is no noticeable difference in consuming brown eggs or white.
According to Jesse LaFlamme, CEO of Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, the breed of chicken and its associated genetics determine whether a hen possesses pigment genes. When these genes are are active, the chicken creates a natural chemical that coats the egg and gives it its distinctive tone.
LaFlamme offered a helpful hint to figure out what color egg a particular breed will lay: Look at the ear feathers. For example, an Ameraucana produces blue eggs, whereas an Orpington lays brown ones.
For farmers, the color of the eggs probably isn’t as important as how fast their chickens can lay them. And when it comes to efficiency, the Leghorn breed—which lays white eggs—is at the top of the class.
According to Hickman, the Leghorn is a popular choice for farmers because hens who produce colored eggshells must be fed more and are more expensive to maintain.
Malina Linkas Malkani, a media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said, “Choosing between brown and white eggs is a matter of personal preference. But it’s important for people to know that the color of the eggshell is related to the breed of the hen, not the egg’s nutrient content, flavor profile, quality, or shell thickness.”
When it comes to eggs, I tend to go with whatever’s cheapest.
They all taste good to me.