It still never gets old to me. You know… when your friend comes up to you and says, “So, I’ve been buying brown eggs at the grocery store and I can really tell a difference in their taste.” Their taste? You notice the difference in… nothing? It’s funny how some marketers have done such a fantastic job at their occupation, that they’ve convinced the minds of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of people that the color of the eggs they’re buying is affecting the health of the consumer.
I remember when I took my first Poultry Science class. I was sitting in the seminar, with maybe 20 other students, and our professor informed us that there’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs and in actuality, the difference in color can be determined by the color of the earlobes. For example, a White Leghorn with a white earlobe will lay a white egg, and a Rhode Island Red with a red earlobe will lay a brown egg.
How, biologically speaking, exactly do these eggs have different colors, though? Egg color depends on the breed of the chicken. Every egg is white in the beginning. The pigment or color, whether that be brown, blue, green, etc. is deposited onto the egg while the egg is in the shell gland, or uterus. This process comes after the egg has formed albumen and developed its shell membrane in the oviduct – it’s spent nearly 20 hours here!
The question remains, though… why are brown eggs so much more expensive than white eggs? Well, this may be because of higher consumer demand and producers have found a way to get more money, but it also is because, typically, brown egg layers require more food. More food means a higher cost of maintaining feed intake, which leads to a higher cost for both the producer and consumer (Overdeep, 2018).
While the cost of brown eggs versus white eggs is noticeable, it has also been brought to my attention that many people associate brown eggs with a darker egg yolk which they assume makes it healthier. The color of the egg shell or even the yolk has no relationship to egg quality, nutritional value, flavor, etc. The color of the yolk depends on the hen’s diet. For example, if you feed your birds more ingredients that have more of yellow or orange pigments, these pigments will be deposited in the egg yolk. Hens that are fed more neutral colors like barley or wheat will have lighter-colored yolks. Now, what about green colored yolks? If you notice a greenish ring color around egg yolks after you’ve hard-boiled them, this is a result of your cooking (sorry!). By that I mean that the greenish color is caused from the sulfur and iron compounds in the egg reacting after you’ve overcooked the eggs and there is a high amount of iron in the water. The green lining of the yolk has nothing to do with the health of your birds or their internal functions (A.E.B., 2019).
So, there you have it! Now you know a little bit more about eggs and why you don’t necessarily have to spend those extra two dollars per dozen when grocery shopping, why you don’t have to freak out if your yolk is more dark or discolored another day, or even why you might want to set a timer in the kitchen 😉
Written By Hannah Lunsford
A.E. B. (2019). Eggcyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.incredibleegg.org/eggcyclopedia/c/color/
Overdeep, M. (2018, February 28). WATCH: The Real Reason Brown Eggs Are More
Expensive Than White Eggs. Retrieved from
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