How different are eggs, really?
You can choose eggs based on color, eggs based on size, enriched eggs, and eggs from hens raised in a variety different production systems. Price, of course, may be the most basic difference, and it’s linked to all of your other choices.
Today is World Egg Day, celebrated on the second Friday of every October. It's a day to celebrate egg farmers and promote the incredible edible egg. To celebrate, let’s discuss the large array of choices on the market. Eggs are a ubiquitous source of delicious protein for people around the world, but many people aren’t sure of the differences between the types of eggs that are available.
So really, how are all these eggs different? Let’s break down the list.
There is no nutritional difference between a white and brown egg of the same size. So pick whichever your heart desires.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Eggs are usually labeled as medium, large, extra large or jumbo. Differences in egg size are largely due the age of the hen, though sometimes it is related to the strain or breed as well.
Enriched eggs have a higher than normal content of a particular nutrient. For example, hens that consume more Omega-3 will produce eggs with higher levels of Omega-3.
Enriched foods must follow specific guidelines. According to the FDA, “A food that is labeled as ‘enriched’ with a nutrient must contain at least 10 percent more of the Daily Value of that nutrient than a food of the same type that is not enriched.”
Different production systems
First, there are conventionally raised hens. This traditional way of raising hens has been going on since the 1950s. Hens are raised in cages, with five to eight birds per cage. This system has been used for many years, and farmers excel at taking care of their hens under this production system.
Cage-free eggs are also common. These hens are still raised indoors, but not in cages. Another familiar label on the market is free-range. These hens are raised in a big barn with 24-hour access to the outdoors, as long as the weather permits.
Finally, there are organic eggs. These hens are raised just liked free-range hens; but their feed is different. Organically raised hens have a strict set of rules on their diet set by the USDA.
Who ever would have guessed that there is so much to know about eggs? If you’d like to learn more about eggs, you can check the USDA’s site or the American Egg Board site. You can learn more about Alltech’s work with egg farmers here.
Now that you have a better idea of the choices out there, you can buy some eggs and celebrate World Egg Day! Countries across the world will be celebrating that delicious wholesome protein source we call an egg. So let’s get together and boil, scramble, or poach your favorite eggs!