“Brown eggs are local eggs . . .”

In the division of home chores, I often draw grocery shopping. As I push the cart up and down aisles, I sometimes wonder why I buy one brand rather than another. Price and taste are two factors but intangibles are often at work. That’s certainly the case when it comes to eggs. Confronted with a choice between a carton of white shelled eggs and brown shelled eggs, I always choose brown. I don’t know why; they taste the same, they cost the same, inside they look the same. One possible explanation is that brown eggs were all that were present in the house growing up. Another is a catchy jingle that went “Brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh.” It exerted just enough psychological tug to get you to reach for brown rather than white at the refrigerator case. Well this morning I noticed the obituary of Jack Radlo, the otherwise anonymous-to-me originator of that jingle and the savior of the once dying New England egg industry. So goodbye to Mr. Radlo and congratulations on making me at least a life-long consumer of your preferred product.

5 Responses to “Brown eggs are local eggs . . .”

  1. kad barma says:

    Supermarket eggs, brown or otherwise, are almost exclusively from large-scale farming operations that compromise on feeds and care in order to drive their prices to the lowest possible extreme. The nutritive quality of the eggs plummets along with them, and it doesn’t matter the color of the shells.

    At Shaw Farms in Dracut, you can get reasonably priced, better, and, yes, brown eggs from Coll Farms just over the border in New Hampshire. But best of all is to take the time to seek out the smallest possible scale, best possible eggs, from local farmers at the Lowell Farmers Market, and directly from their farms at other times of the year.

    One option now that we’re approaching the colder months is the Chelmsford Winter Farmers Market, which runs from November to March, from 10am to 2pm on Saturdays at 24 Maple Road. (Just off Route 27 South of Chelmsford Center). Jones Farm and Shady Pine farm always have fresh local and supremely nutritious farm eggs for sale. http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets_details.php?market=440

    If you’ve never had a truly fresh farm-raised egg, prepare to be amazed at the difference. The first thing you’ll notice is how orange the yolk is. The vitamin and mineral content of a fresh farm-raised egg is vastly superior to the mass-produced alternative, and you can see it right there in the vibrant color. You’ll also notice a real difference in the flavor–much lighter and more delicious, which is as much an expression of the nutritive content as it is the freshness of a farm egg, that can be laid one morning, and poached, scrambled or friend the next day.

  2. DickH says:

    Good points about the benefits of truly local eggs. A big part of the choice is convenience: if it takes a special trip to a different place, that tips the scales back towards the supermarket notwithstanding the diminished quality. I’ll check out some of the local sellers you cite and report back.

  3. Marianne says:

    Pete and Gerry’s eggs are local eggs from chickens raised by small farmers in New Hampshire that are readily available at Market Basket. I try to get my eggs from the farmers market, but if that isn’t possible, I buy Pete and Gerry’s.

    There is also a group here in Lowell that is working to pass a chicken ordinance that would allow citizens with proper space, etc. to raise their own chickens for eggs – it doesn’t get much more local than that!

  4. Tony says:

    I know it is a mental thing, but if I know an egg is white, I won’t eat it. But I’m sure I’ve eaten plenty I didn’t know about. I grew up believing (and still do) “brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh”.

  5. kad barma says:

    Don’t become overly distracted by appearances–eggshell color, white or brown, is purely a coincidence of the breed of chicken laying it, and nothing more. It happens that Leghorn breeds (remarkably productive layers) aren’t as common to the producers in this area, so their larger, white eggs generally come from distance. New Hampshire and Rhode Island Reds, and Plymouth Rocks and “Sex-linked” hybrids, are the most common more-productive breeds nearer here, so we get mostly brown eggs when we buy locally-produced large-scale operations eggs.

    I will say that the eggs from the Leghorns I raised back in the day were absolutely every bit as wonderful and tasty as those from my other breeds of layers, and I would highly recommend them if you can get them fresh from the farm. You can also find blue eggs, (Ameraucanas), almost-red eggs, (Barnevelders), chocolate-brown eggs, (Marans), and many other tints in between if you’re buying from a farmer who enjoys a variety among his or her flock. And if Lowell can pass an ordinance allowing it, I’d highly recommend experimenting with possibly-less-productive layers like Cochins because they can be especially sweet and personable birds and well worth the effort for their smaller yet just-as tasty output.