Dark yolks or light yolks? Is there a difference?
So we have lots of customers who LOVE our free-range, pastured chicken eggs! We love them too! Other customers, however, often ask questions about why they should care about free-range eggs and if there really is a difference. The most common objection we hear from folks regarding free-range eggs is the yolk color. "They're so dark! Doesn't that mean they're old and funny-tasting?"
Here we'll give you the important details you'll want to know about free-range eggs and why you definitely want them in your fridge over those filling up the super market shelves!
First off, yolk color DOES NOT reflect either the egg's nutrition level or how long they've been sitting on the shelf! While yolk color cannot reveal direct nutrition value, it DOES generally hint whether the hen was free-range or caged.
Yolk color is generally darker and richer in free-range eggs. However, according to Marion Nestle, author of book What to Eat, and professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health at New York University, this is only because free-range hens have the opportunity to eat more pigmented foods, and pigment is then transferred to the yolk. So, nothing magical here...
While the yolk color is not an exact way to judge an egg's nutrition level, there is compelling evidence to show that free-range eggs ARE better nutritionally than those that are from confined birds at a factory farm--the ones you typically buy in the super market.
Mother Earth News conducted a pretty impressive study in 2007 by comparing free-range eggs from 14 different farms around the country and compared them with the standard USDA-grade eggs found in the store. The results show that free-range, pastured eggs contain the following:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta carotene
The difference in nutrition is largely attributed to diet. Chickens who have the opportunity to eat their natural, balanced diet will tend to be healthier than those hens in confinement who are fed a monotrophic diet (typically a mixture of grain, corn and soy).
Chickens are Omnivores!
You often see labeling with eggs or poultry meat that showcases "Vegetarian Fed" chicken. This is not the kind of chicken you want to go for, and pretty much means that the chickens were confined and not free-range. Chickens are omnivores, which means that they naturally eat food from both plant and animal origin, and it is important that hens have the opportunity to eat their natural diet. They will be healthier and they will be able to pass on the maximized nutrition to their eggs and meat!