You’ve probably gone to the grocery store and wondered what the difference is between white and brown eggs. Even if you don’t think you’ve ever tried a brown egg before, you actually might have since the taste is practically identical. So why sell the two eggs apart? Does it have to do with nutrition or just the color? Let’s find out.
A common assumption is that brown eggs are “healthier” than white eggs, probably because they’re brown and typically cost more. However, what really matters is not so much the color of the egg, but how the chicken is raised.
The color of the egg is determined by the color of the chicken’s earlobe, which mostly aligns with the color of their feathers (white, brown, or red). So hens, typically lay the brown eggs, while chickens lay white eggs. The hens are normally bigger and need more food, thus the cost increases and the farmers have to make up for it in market price. Thus, price and look alone do not determine egg nutrition value.
Finally, you may have also heard to simply stay away from eggs, as they are not healthy no matter the color or raising methods. As more and more evidence comes out that natural cholesterols are actually healthy for you, don’t worry about this theory. Egg yolks have even been added to the 2015 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for protein. You can learn more about the debunked connection between heart disease and eggs here.
The Hard Truth
America produces around 50 billion eggs per year, making it the largest egg-producer in the world, which is pretty remarkable if you ignore the fact that it’s done through industrial agriculture. This farms that practice this are referred to as concentrated animal feeding operations or CAFOs. These chickens (white or brown) are cramped into spaces where their feet sometimes don’t even touch the ground, festering an environment for disease. In these industrialized farms, chickens and hens are likely being fed the same type of food, producing identical tasting eggs.
In terms of nutritional value, there is little to no difference between white or brown eggs if the poultry was raised in a CAFO. The chickens and hens are both being fed genetically engineered (GE) corn and soybeans opposed to their natural plant, seed, worm, and insect diet. Plus, they are regularly given antibiotics to prevent disease outbreaks.
All of these factors do not make for a healthy egg.
What You Should Look For
The next time you’re craving an omelet, opt for pasture-raised eggs. This way you know that your eggs come from farms that allow their chickens/hens to live in free-range areas that cultivate healthy living and diets.
Brown eggs are a good indicator that they are pasture-free eggs, but don’t automatically assume that they are simply due to their color. If you have questions, ask someone at the store who can help. It will be worth your time and effort to know what you’re eating.
Be constantly aware of where your food comes from, because there is much more detail when it comes to nutrition besides color. Choose pasture-raised eggs the next time you go to the grocery store for your improved health!