We’ve been buying “cage-free” eggs for a few years. Three bucks a carton from Hy-Vee and…I get to feel slightly better about my eggs. Thanks, Marketing Department somewhere!
But I knew that “cage-free” label meant squat. Those chickens just have slightly bigger cages and still aren’t eating what they’re supposed to be eating. How to I know?These “cage-free” eggs are also labeled vegetarian-fed. Here’s the problem:
It’s a fact. Here’s a source!
So it seems pretty weird that I would want to buy eggs from vegetarian-fed birds, right?
The fact is, the eggs we eat SHOULD be more orange than yellow. There’s some color-modding in these photos — just like all my photos — but that orange is legit. And look at the bottom-right photo: do you see how thick and delicious these yolks are?
Mass-produced eggs aren’t orange; they’re a pale, sad yellow. They aren’t orange because that hue comes from chickens who eat a good, mixed diet of roots and shoots and grains and BUGS. Bugs, people. They’re birds — they loves their bugs.
Read more about it on Chow, and then go to your Farmers’ Market tomorrow and buy some fucking real eggs.
It’s four AM and I’m listening to paper boys on their rounds while I eat chocolate cake, and along comes Sputnik, who points out in the comments:
13 minutes ago
It’s not really true that only free ranging chickens eating a mixed natural diet will have strongly yellow yolks. The yellow color of the yolk is directly related of the amount of carotenoids in the hen’s food ie the more yellow the yolks, the more carotenoids. Although carotenoids are found naturally fresh vegetables, they are also added to the chicken feed in the form of a supplement called canthaxanthin or citranaxanthin.
So yolk colour can be manipulated quite easily by the farmer to match consumer preference. I worked mass producing battery egg farm where the chickens produced dark yellow yolks because they were supplemented with caratenoids (a viscous orange oil that came from china in enormous 1000L drums).
I totally agree with eating locally grown, free range eggs from chickens that live happy lives and eat a natural diet, but you can’t tell by looking at yolk color or thickness (which is a function of freshness).
And that is all true.
Which is why I said:
That is absolutely true — and is the text of the article on Chow I linked. BUT. This was what changed my mind about where to buy my eggs because I have NEVER seen orange yolks in a grocery. Again, orange yolks /=/ definitely healthier eggs; I have gotten many cartons from trusted Farmers Market vendors with far more yellow-y yolks. I, me, personally? I use that orange color as a canary in the mine and a reminder that I should work to get as much More Natural food as I can.
But Sputnik raises a valid point. This is important information, and perhaps I shouldn’t have skimmed over it by merely providing a link.