Dear Straight Dope:
Everyone I ask has a different answer to the question of what difference, if any (besides color), there is between brown eggs and white eggs. Some say brown are better for you, others say white are better for you, and nutritionists seem to say that there is absolutely no difference whatsoever. Can you tell me for real (I'll believe you) if there really is any nutritional or food value difference at all between brown eggs and white eggs? I assume that the color is determined by what type of chicken laid the egg, but if I'm mistaken on this please set me straight. Thank you.
SDStaff Eutychus replies:
There is one major, MAJOR difference between brown eggs and white eggs.
Brown eggs are brown and white eggs are white.
Does that answer your question?
No? OK then. According to the Egg Nutrition Board (and who should know better?), “White shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and ear lobes. Brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. There is no difference in taste or nutrition between white and brown eggs.” The people at Crisco (who may know even more than the egg nutritionists) go further to say, “They simply come from two different breeds of chickens. Brown eggs, however, are more expensive because the chickens that lay them eat more than those that lay white eggs.” Among the breeds that lay brown eggs are the Rhode Island Red, the New Hampshire and the Plymouth Rock — all larger birds that require more food.
But Bill Finch of the Mobile Register suggests that brown eggs may have tasted better at one time. He says, “For years, the chickens preferred by commercial growers happened to lay white eggs. A few smart cooks sought out brown eggs because most of the home-reared American flocks, which had access to flavor-enhancing weeds and bugs, happened to lay brown eggs. Commercial egg producers eventually got wise to this. They started raising chickens that laid brown eggs, and charged a premium for them at the store.
“But because the white AND brown grocery-store eggs are the result of the same bland commercial diet, their eggs taste exactly the same. Many people still apparently don’t realize they’ve been duped at their own game.”
I hope this lays this matter to rest.
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