A Good Egg!

During my exploration of a non-wheat diet, I went to Whole Foods (now owned by Amazon) to buy some variety flours. While scoring some Buckwheat and Sorghum flour, I also decided to just “pay up” and buy some eggs. We were out of eggs. I usually buy them at Walmart or Costco or some other low price bulk place. Eggs are eggs, right?

Well, no.

Looking at the prices, they were all a bit high. One of my behaviours is that if I’m paying up, I don’t buy the lowest end overpriced thing. Looking over the choices, they had brown eggs. I like brown eggs. The only difference is the chicken they come from and the red ones don’t produce quite as much, so brown eggs cost more. But it’s easier to pick bits of shell out of things, and you get a prettier view of the hard boiled ones in the fridge. I just like how they look. Looking at the brown choices, one was “Pasture Raised”. Figuring that ought to mean more “good stuff” getting into the egg, that’s what I bought. I mean, what the hell, I’m already “paying up”, might as well go all the way.

Whole Foods house brand “365 everyday value” Brown Pasture Raised eggs. Grade A Large.

At home the next day I made 2 fried eggs for breakfast. OMG! The yolks were that pumpkin orange color I’d not seen since I was a kid and we bought them from a local farm, or sometimes I collected them from a barnyard as my Dad talked to the owner. These did not disappoint. Just a generally richer flavor and texture. Even the whites, while still liquid, had a bit more straw color to them. My only complaint would be that the whites spread a bit more than they would for “very fresh” – so I presume these don’t sell fast here. Not any worse than the general commercial eggs, though.

I’m sold. 100%. The flavor and texture was worth it, and the color is just, well, right.

So a week later I was filling the usual shopping list at Costco. Still had a couple of the Whole Foods eggs, but would be out in a day or two. Seems Costco also sells “Large Brown Pasture Raised Eggs” in a 24 egg flat. Noticeably cheaper too. Hey, what a deal! (Not!) Well, 2 days later I crack the last Whole Foods egg in the pan. Lovely pumpkin orange yolk. Then I crack the fist of the Costco eggs into the pan. I lemon yellow egg yolk greets me. What? Let’s just say that the A / B flavor test left much to be desired from the Costco egg as well. More fluid (not as thick) and a weak flavor.

The next day I made a batch of scrambled eggs. The thin lemon yellow yolks gave me a lemon yellow scramble (well actually lighter than a lemon…). The flavor was only somewhat better than “scrambled egg whites”. It was scrambled eggs all right, but more like one yolk in 2 worth of whites. They’ve not really improved over subsequent meals. They’re “OK”, but nothing special.

My Conclusion

Not all Pasture Raised eggs are the same, and COSTCO isn’t buying the better ones. Scratch COSTCO eggs off the shopping list.

I’m really looking forward to my next dozen of Whole Foods eggs. Those chickens were in a pasture with edible greens and bugs.

It is highly likely that they source locally (hey, it’s a “green” thing and they are into that) so this may not hold in other areas; but it is worth checking it out.

Those memories of Real Eggs ™ from 1/2 century ago? Well you can still get those eggs if you look for them; somewhere.

Turns out I’m willing to pay up for that quality. So I will. I’ll still occasionally try other less costly brands from other stores, like maybe Trader Joe’s, just to make sure I’m getting a decent deal.

It is probably worth it to let the egg sellers know quality sells and you want quality.

So as of now, I’ll be making a Whole Foods run about once a week. Even if just for the eggs and “funny Flour”.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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18 Responses to A Good Egg!

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    Feeding hens with some marigold flowers (Calendula) adds yellow to their egg yolks and skin fat.
    Just an idle thought.

  2. H.R. says:

    Now you’ve got me wondering how sorghum flour cookies would work out, E.M.

    Maybe a shortbread with real butter, of course.

    I’m not picky on the taste of eggs, although I’ll take your expert word that your new find is demonstrably better tasting, but I do wonder if the nutritional content is significantly superior.

    Maybe the website of the brand you bought, if they have one, has some info touting some sort of superiority of their egg’s nutritional content. Perhaps it’s on the included vitamins and trace element side of things if there is a difference.

  3. E.M.Smith says:


    Odd, I was contemplating the same thing. Shortbread cookies from funny flours.

    @Graheme No.3:

    Nice to know. Now I know what to plant in my chicken pasture… if I ever get one ;-)

  4. Graeme No.3 says:

    The terms used in Australia are free range and organic. The latter can mean approved by anyone of 3 defining ‘authorities’ or a less than scrupulous seller making up his own. The first can mean 20-40 chickens foraging on an acre of vegetation to 10,000 per acre using processed food. Prices vary too, although the more heavily advertised ones seem to be more expensive than their equivalent. So you can go into a supermarket and have a ‘choice’ of 6 or 7 brands. That doesn’t mean they are the best choice.
    I live in a semi-rural area and there are a number of small ‘farms’ selling eggs, the problem being you don’t know their age. It comes down to knowing the seller.

  5. kneel63 says:

    If the eggs are that good, you should also buy the chicken itself – grain and/or corn fed chickens are why people say “it tastes like chicken”. A chicken that walks around eating grasses, worms, bugs etc actually tastes a hell of a lot better and drops considerably less fat when roasted (up to 90% less than a cheap cage bird!)

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No.3:

    Similar issues here, where the minimum for “pasture raised” can be something like “walked around the barn twice a day on dirt”… or maybe that’s “free range”… I know I’m going to be seeking out alternative egg suppliers anytime I’m in a place for long (those real rural places…) and checking out the “Hippy Foody” places when that’s all there is (Whole Foods, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s).

    Having found I can get Real Eggs ™ again I’m not going to be satisfied with “lemon yolks and tasteless whites” again…

  7. E.M.Smith says:


    Yeah, probably need to try that aspect too. I’ve noticed the commercial chickens now have “dark meat” that is what “light meat” used to be like. Flavored but not intense and slightly off white. The white meat now is rather like tasteless “what is this?”… Turkey is slowly headed that way too, but not quite there yet.

    Wild bird, like pheasant, has a LOT more flavor and the dark meat can be nearly brown block.

    I wonder if I’m talking myself into taking up bird hunting? ;-)

  8. Power Grab says:

    When I first tried “free range” eggs from a farmer friend, I was shocked at how orange the yolks were. Also, when I took my first bite, I immediately was thrown back to my childhood. That’s what eggs used to taste like!! :-)

    The whites of these “Real Eggs” that I get tend to be more clear than commercial eggs. I’m sure they feed the commercial hens marigolds. ;-)

  9. beththeserf says:

    Mebbe a romanticist serf, I buy free range on principle, naychur decrees we’re
    predators must needs kill to eat, but let’s avoid unnecessary suffering, caged
    birds and such. Hunting ‘n quick kill, I could do that.

  10. Steve Crook says:

    In the UK I only buy eggs from Free Range hens and, generally, from Waitrose as I’ve found their eggs to be very reliably fresh. Fresh is important because I like my eggs poached and the whites spread more and more the older they get.

    I only buy free range chicken to eat. It seems to have much less fat and definitely has a nicer taste. I made the full switch after pan frying some cheaper chicken and finding I had more fat in the pan at the end than when I started.

    Then there are the welfare issues with caged hens.

  11. Tim. says:

    We have neighbours who keep hens (rescued barn hens) and get eggs from them when there is a surpless, And then friends (unfortunately abroad at present) who sell us eggs from their free ranging hens and ducks. As you say, the yolks are orange rather than pale yellow and taste much better. They are fresher too with a much thicker white.

  12. R Shearer says:

    There be carotenoids in them. http://orgprints.org/18192/1/18192.pdf

  13. C.K. says:

    You might consider Barley flour. It should have a lower Glycemic index and load than most other grains. Also look at King Arthur flowers they seem to produce more flavorful breads

  14. Nessimmersion says:

    I remember (60’s & 70’s) giving the hens a lawnmower basket of fresh grass clippings every time we cut the grass.
    My father reckoned the hens used the iron to make the yokes more orange.

  15. Petrossa says:

    i worked in a somewhat ‘free range’ chicken farm housing 100’s of thousands chicks per stable (millions of chicks total) Admittedly my job was just to gather the chickens that where cannibalizet and died by being eaten by the rest. From experience and knowledge in the matter i know that the color of yolk is only determined by the color of food coloring in the feed. The coloring can be natural of course, but it’s just a color.
    As for taste of the eggs, it all depends if infertile male chickens are introduced into the mix. A male hen will provoke the chicken to produce more ‘fertile’ (thicker yolk and whites) eggs but to the detriment of their health.
    So in conclusion:
    More males cause chickens to produce ‘better’ eggs for a shorter life time, less males will let chickens live longer, produce more eggs during their lifetime.
    Again the color of the yolk is only reflecting the amount of food coloring they ingested.

  16. jim2 says:

    Some interesting facts, Petrossa. Thanks.

  17. E.M.Smith says:


    Barley also has some gluten in it. Not as much as wheat, but still it is there.

    As I’ve had my 2nd “challenge” in a row where adding wheat back in brought joint pains and stiffness in 2 days (and left 2 days after stopping): It is pretty well proven that the gliadin in the gluten is modulating the zonulin receptors to let “reactive” stuff through the intestinal wall.

    For that reason, stuff like barley will be reserved for rare uses like Scotch Broth.

    I’m still exploring the limits and response, but ramen 2 days running is enough to cause issues for me. So last night I tossed out my last 2 cups of wheat noodles & a box of couscous. (A control day using rice noodle ramen didn’t have issues so I’m pretty sure it is the wheat noodle and not the season packet).

    FWIW, I’ve found at least 3 acceptable gluten free breads made commercially. All of them are brown rice flour with sorghum flour with variable other stuff. So that’s where I’m starting my DIY bread exploration.


    Yes but…

    It is an indirect indicator of feed quality. While possible to make a feed mix by adding color agents to crap feed, most makers are too lazy and just feed straight grains. The thin lemon yellow eggs attest to it. So while not a perfect proof, it is a good enough indicator to use the thick viscosity and orange yokes to show which eggs are likely better.

  18. E.M.Smith says:

    A follow up note:

    I bought some Whole Foods Omega 3 Eggs (for $1 / dozen less than the Pasture Raised) and they were about the same nice color and flavor. (Head to head comparison of all 3, Costco Pasture, WF Pasture, WF Omega3 – in one case all three in the same frying pan and on the same plate…)

    In finishing the big flat of Costco eggs, I noticed some were fairly orange yolks and some were very light. It looks like mostly it is just a wider range of what makes it to the flat of eggs as opposed to an overall tendency to “thin and light color”. The very lemon color yolks were a small percentage (I failed to count as I didn’t realize I’d need to until many were gone…) and I’d guess it was about 20%? Maybe? So on a “most value / $” basis they are still a “good deal” – but clearly some kind of QA process or consistency assurance is missing.

    The Whole Foods eggs are frightfully expensive. Roughly $5 / dozen for the Pasture Raised and $4/dozen for the Omega-3 eggs. IIRC the Costco Pasture raised were about $4 for twice as many eggs – 2 dozen. Yes, I need to gather and calculate the actual $/dozen to make a proper cost/benefit analysis. At Walmart they had what I think is a house brand of pasture raised brown eggs for about $3.xx / dozen. I’ve bought a box for comparison.

    So at this point the “find an acceptable egg at an acceptable price” is proceeding along the lines of checking out other stores offerings. It has also become clear that I need to do multiple samples so I can get some idea what the “normal variation in a brand” might be. While the 2 dozen from Whole Foods were very consistent, that is not guaranteed to hold over time. I likely also need to get some kind of standard color cards made up for color comparisons. Simply plopping one each of a couple of brands in the pan and looking is not consistent enough when it is known that the eggs in a batch can vary…

    FWIW, I might be able to use the FireFox logo. It grades from light yellow tail to a deep orange back, so perhaps “where on the fox” can be a metric ;-)

    As of now I’m going with the Whole Foods Omega-3 eggs (that also state free-range) as the best of quality, consistency and price; however I’m going to continue to buy “one-each” of different brands for direct comparisons provided the other brand has a better $/dozen. ( I don’t expect any other eggs to beat the experience of the Whole Foods eggs given how well they have done so far).

    At some point I’ll do another flat of COSTCO eggs just to see if the light yellow ones were a fluke in one batch or are a consistent “high variability” artifact. But not for a while…

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