Brown eggs or white eggs, cage-free or free-range—what does it all mean? We've cracked down on seven myths that still abound regarding these incredible edibles.
1. EGG YOLKS ARE UNHEALTHY.
If you’ve been restricting your breakfast options to an egg-white omelet, you may be suffering needlessly. Egg yolks do contain more fat and cholesterol than egg whites, but studies over the last few decades have shown that a) not all fat is bad for you; and b) consuming foods high in cholesterol does not necessarily translate to having higher blood cholesterol, although there are still groups, especially diabetics and those with heart disease, who are recommended to abstain. Still not sure if yolks are safe for you? Talk to your doctor.
2. ALL EGGS NEED TO BE REFRIGERATED.
Refrigeration requirements depend on one surprising factor: where you are in the world. American eggs should all be kept cold, while eggs in other countries can sit out on the counter for days. That’s because U.S. egg producers—and producers in Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia—are required to wash their eggs to prevent salmonella. This washing process strips the eggs of their natural protection, making it essential to keep them chilled to fend off pathogens and spoilage.
3. "CAGE-FREE" FARMING IS MORE HUMANE.
"Cage-free," "free-range," and "humanely raised" are not the same thing. Chickens on so-called "cage-free" farms are usually crowded into pens, which are essentially just big cages. To keep the crowded birds from hurting each other, many producers cut or burn off the sharper parts of the hens’ beaks when they’re still young. And most kill male chicks as soon as they’re born, since they have no commercial value. If you want to be sure that your eggs come from happy chickens, look for the Certified Humane label or buy your eggs from small, local farms.
4. BROWN CHICKENS LAY BROWN EGGS.
The color of the egg is related to the color of the chicken—just not its feathers. Brown eggs tend to come from chickens with red earlobes (yes! Earlobes!). White eggs generally come from chickens with white earlobes. The next time you see a hen, take a look and see if you can guess what color her eggs will be (although there are always exceptions to this rule, so perhaps don't bet any money on it).
5. BROWN EGGS ARE HEALTHIER AND MORE NATURAL.
We understand where this might come from—we’ve been told that brown bread is healthier than white bread, and brown rice is better than white. Why would eggs be different? Because, unlike rice and wheat flour, white eggs are naturally white. Their nutritional composition is no better or worse than those of brown eggs.
6. EVERY EGG IS A BABY CHICKEN.
An egg is an egg, whether it’s been fertilized or not. This is as true for chickens as it is for people. Women ovulate, and hens lay eggs. The majority of eggs for sale today are unfertilized and couldn’t become chickens even if you wanted them to.
7. FERTILIZED EGGS PACK EXTRA PROTEIN.
Does the idea of eating a fertilized egg horrify you? Relax. It’s a rare, rare egg indeed that actually contains a chicken fetus. The majority of fertilized eggs contain cells that could potentially develop into a chick—if they hadn’t been refrigerated and then scrambled for your omelet. These eggs are not better for you than unfertilized eggs, nor are they any worse.