For the first time, since we got chickens a year and a half ago, I had to buy eggs. For the last six months or so, we had been accumulating eggs so quickly I was giving away a dozen eggs once we had 3 or 4 dozen in the fridge. Then egg laying dropped dramatically and I was only finding one egg every other day or so. One of our hens (Ginger) is molting, so she has a pretty good excuse (molting chickens typically don’t lay, but it also takes them almost 6 months to get back to laying). But the other two are just fine and should be laying, but they’re not. Maybe they don’t like the new chickens running around in their pen. Or maybe the darker days are just really messing with the egg schedule. In any case, I went to make breakfast one morning and found 2 eggs in the egg carton.
So, the timing of Foodbuzz’s Land O’ Lakes egg campaign was pretty good – I went out over the weekend and purchased (well, picked up for free with the coupon) a dozen cage-free, organic, all-natural eggs (right now, Stacy is rolling her eyes at the “all-natural” designation). They weren’t as easy to find as I hoped they’d be. I was at Sprouts and swung by the egg section, but they didn’t carry the brand. Neither did the Target grocery aisle. I found them during a last-minute Vons stop, so I imagine any national chain grocery store would also carry them.
I’m not going to go into the whole cage-free, organic, all-natural mumbo jumbo regarding the eggs. I’m also not going to compare them to our chicken eggs because that’s a completely unfair comparison and I would also be very biased. Instead, I’m just going to evaluate the eggs and pretend we’ve never been spoiled with eating just-laid eggs from chickens who eat a balanced diet in the sunshine while also being spoiled with cake, weeds, and leftover pasta.
The Land O’ Lakes eggs are a gorgeous shade of brown, with medium-thick shells that crack open easily. I do feel the need to tell you that most organic/natural/non-factory eggs are brown because there is a public perception that brown eggs are healthier than white eggs or that brown eggs come from non-factory farm chickens and are therefore better for you and the chicken industry. The color of an eggshell has nothing to do with how a chicken is raised, how happy the chicken is, how well it is fed, whether it eats vegetarian feed or ground beef, or the nutrition content of the egg it holds. The color of an eggshell is completely dependent on the type of chicken who laid it. Chickens have earlobes (albeit, tiny ones) and they can be white, yellow, red, brown… and maybe some other colors in between. Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs; chickens with colored earlobes lay brown eggs (or colored eggs). That’s it. No magic, no mystery. Thus ends my PSA..
Breakfast was made the day after purchasing the eggs: one egg over medium and a two-egg omelet.
The egg looked like every other egg. The egg white was a bit watery (indicates age of the egg) and the yolk was yellow. The two eggs beaten in a bowl (for the omelet) whipped into a pale yellow mixture. And they tasted like regular eggs, except that the white of the over-medium egg was a bit rubbery. The End.
Okay, not really The End. It’s hard to objectively evaluate Land O’ Lakes eggs after being a chicken owner. I assume people want eggs from chickens that are not penned up their whole lives, but I consider “cage-free” as being minimal effort. I can see how being fed organic feed is better for the chicken (much like eating organic foods are generally better for us), but I’m not quite convinced how much of that goodness affects the actual egg content. What it really comes down to is this: one dozen Land O’ Lakes eggs normally retails for $4.99 at my Vons. That’s $5 for a dozen eggs, nearly $0.42 per egg! I personally feel that’s a really high price for brown eggs, organic or not. I also feel that if you are looking for a happier, healthier source of eggs, you can probably find better value at a farmers market. Or maybe even your local non-chain grocery store. [ed note: Looking at the website, I notice that the organic, "natural" eggs are most likely the most expensive of the Land O’ Lake eggs offered. Interesting that it was the only type available at my store.]
What kind of eggs do you eat? Where do you buy them? Sometimes I feel like I want to hold a Chicken Workshop and show people what it’s really like to think about where your eggs come from.