We’re all familiar with the phrase “What came first? The chicken or the egg?”. And while we’ve found the answer to that question, we have one that applies a bit more to your everyday life to pose to you. Farm fresh or store bought eggs? Farm-fresh eggs and store-bought eggs have some differences that may impact their overall quality and benefits. Let’s crack this one open!
1. Fresher and Higher Quality:
Farm-fresh eggs are typically laid and consumed locally, meaning they have a shorter time span between laying and consumption than store-bought eggs. This freshness can result in a higher quality egg with a better taste. Do you know how old the eggs you purchase from a grocery store are? Hint: It’s probably older than you think! Let’s do some math. (No, not chicken math this time, real math.) According to the Egg Safety Center, cartons carrying the USDA grade logo can’t have an expiration date more than 30 days after they were packed in the carton. And farmers have 30 days from the hen laying to get the egg to said carton. So, that could be up to 60 days from egg-ception to your plate. That’s two months!
2. Nutritional Content
While eggs are safe to eat for longer than 60 days, there can be some loss of nutrients in this nugget of deliciousness. Commercial egg layers are required to wash and clean the bloom/any grime off the egg upon collection. By removing this bloom, the egg has to be refrigerated to prevent bacteria from entering the now open shell pores. Over time this can slightly decrease how nutrient dense an egg is. The diet of the hens, whether they are raised on pasture or indoors, can impact the nutrient profile of the eggs as well. For example, eggs from hens that are raised on a pasture or allowed to forage for insects and plants may contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids. You may also notice a change in the yolk color.
Many people find that farm-fresh eggs have a richer and more flavorful taste compared to store-bought eggs. This difference in flavor can be attributed to factors such as the hen’s diet, living conditions, and the freshness of the eggs. We live by the phrase you are what your animals eat. And the flavor is evident!
4. Animal Welfare
If you purchase eggs directly from a local farm or a small-scale producer, you can get to know not only the hens your eggs come from but their environment. The hens are usually raised in much better conditions than hens in large-scale commercial operations. When picking up eggs directly from the farm, you can see how the animals live and ask questions of the farmer that aren’t possible on a commercial scale. However, this is not always the case as it depends on the individual farm’s practices, so it’s important to do your research. Ask friends and family for recommendations on where to source eggs locally. Or check out a source such as eatlocal.org
5. Supporting Local Farmers
Buying farm-fresh eggs can support local farmers and contribute to the sustainability of small-scale agriculture. By purchasing directly from local farmers, you can help them maintain their livelihoods and promote a more resilient and diverse food system. Going to your local farmer’s market is a great way to find an egg seller near you!
Wherever you choose to purchase your eggs, know that you’re consuming one of the world’s perfectly balanced foods. If store bought is the only route you can take, learn what those labels on the egg carton mean, and purchase with purpose! It’s important to consider the source and do your research to make an informed decision based on your personal preferences and values.