Posted by: gaylejervis | June 21, 2010


When my children were young, I didn’t have the heart to tell them after reading a children’s book about Sadie the Cow or Porky the Pig that tonight we were going to eat one of their relations.  Therefore, I appreciate how the English language gives us such word substitutes as beef and pork!   We had no euphemism when I said that we were having chicken but I just didn’t bring it to their attention by using that word very often!    I’ve never really thought until now how they finally made the connection about what they were eating!  Two of my aunts nicknamed me “Farmer Girl” since I was definitely a city slicker.  It doesn’t seem that long ago, I know the kids were in their teens, that after a hysterical conversation, Kristen decided we needed to phone my mom to clarify the difference between a bull and a steer.  And then of course there was the time we needed to phone my Mom to find out the difference between a hen and a chicken!  Considering that both my parents were raised on farms, I absorbed none of their DNA that would have made me a good farmer.

From these true confessions, you will probably understand then that I also don’t like eggs to look like they may have come from a chicken – or is it a hen?  My doctor tells me that I should avoid eggs, but if I must have an egg, it needs to be organic.  I think it is determined by what they eat, but unfortunately those “healthy” eggs are brown!  And then of course, the yolks are often darker and sometimes you can see a spot of blood inside the yolk!  My compromise has been to purchase white preservative-free eggs but these chickens have not been organically fed.

Anyways, these ruminations about eggs was triggered by my reading a charming 1951 Caldecott winner called The Egg Tree whose setting is on a Dutch rural Pennsylvania farm!  It was a pleasant story relating   how the Grandma gives her grandchildren an Easter egg hunt and then later teaches them how to design patterns on hollowed out eggs and then hang them on a small tree. My first response was to wonder how I might adapt this tradition always looking for ideas how to develop memories with my Grandson. But as I looked at the pictures of the eggs that were being used, I couldn’t help notice that they were white!

And yet, I’m sure that since this story occurred in 1951, and the eggs came directly from the Grandma’s farm, these eggs were mostly organic since these chickens wouldn’t have been fed antibiotics.  And I’m sure they were living happy free – range lives.  So here’s the question:  Why weren’t those eggs brown?

Thanks to the internet, I am no longer an ignorant urbanite pondering this question.  I just learned from Mr. Breakfast that the answer is rather obvious and once again would cause a farmer to fall off his chair laughing at me.  Apparently, white eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown-ish chickens!  To be even more precise, Mr Breakfast states that you can even predict the color of eggs a chicken will lay by its earlobes!  Apparently, “the pigments in the outer layer of the eggshell will always approximate the color of the earlobe of the chicken that laid the egg.”

What I found particularly irksome is that this same site states that the Egg Nutrition Center in Washington, D.C., says the color of the shell has nothing to do with egg quality, nutritional value or flavor. In fact, the reason brown eggs cost more is because the brown-egg variety of chickens are bigger eaters and cost more to feed!


Somehow I need to convince vendors at the Farmer’s Market who sell organic eggs to please purchase some white chickens for those of us who want a more sanitized egg and convince them it could be economically beneficial to them also!  However, apparently, many consumers believe that brown eggs are healthier than the white eggs and until these city slickers become as informed as this “Farmer Girl”, I suspect I will continue baking with my egg substitute that I just mix with water.


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