For years, eggs have been the subject of arguments. Eggs are good for you, eggs are bad for you, only eat the egg white, never eat raw eggs. For this quintessentially simple food, there is a lot of misinformation out there about eggs. But now experts agree with what most of us knew all along: Eggs are one of the easiest, most delicious and healthiest foods we can eat.
What color is your egg?
An eggshell’s color depends on the breed of hen. Brown eggs aren’t more nutritious or natural than white eggs.
Crack it open to tell whether an egg is fresh. If the yolk rounds up like a dome and the white stays in a close mass, the egg is fresh.
If the yolk is flatter and the white runs into a puddle, the egg is older.
You can still eat old eggs, but if you have the choice, use them as an ingredient rather than the star.
The color of an egg yolk can range from pale yellow to deep orange—it all depends what the hen’s been eating. The deeper color is due to more carotenoids, the same stuff that makes carrots orange.
What eggs should you buy? As with most foods you eat, local is better. In Salt Lake City, Clifford Family Farm is the gold standard. This is a small producer, so don’t expect to find them in big grocery stores but in boutique stores and restaurants like Tony Caputo’s, Pizzeria 712, Communal, Pago and Liberty Heights Fresh. cliffordfamilyfarm.com
The Chicken and The Egg
Why are there so many kinds of eggs on the market shelves? To be honest, all the labeling is more about the chickens than the eggs. Let’s sort it out.
• “Free range” is a USDA term that only applies to poultry grown for meat. It has no meaning when it comes to laying hens. (Even then, requirements for the label seem misleading. If a chicken had any outdoor access at all, it can be labeled “free range.”)
• “Cage free” means that birds are raised without cages, but that doesn’t tell you much either. The chickens might still be raised indoors or in overcrowded factory farms.
• “Hormone free” has no meaning on an egg carton since federal law prohibits the use of hormones on poultry. A label like this is just to make uninformed shoppers think there’s special care taken with these chickens that’s worth a higher price.
• The only food label that actually has to meet specific government requirements is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic seal.
- “Organic crops cannot be grown with synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides or sewage sludge.
- Animals must eat only organically grown feed (without animal by-products) and can’t be treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics.
- Organic crops cannot be genetically engineered or irradiated.
- Animals must have access to the outdoors and ruminants (hoofed animals, including cows) must have access to pasture.
- Animals cannot be cloned.
• But getting certified is time-consuming and expensive for small producers. Recently the local Clifford Family Farms in Provo declined to recertify because of increasing costs; nevertheless, all their produce and meat and egg products are grown organically.