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Do Free-Range Eggs Taste Better?

Carl Huber of theWAREHOUSE blog talked to a chicken farmer who was selling organic (though not "certified organic" - apparently, getting certified is an expensive process), free-range eggs in a farmer's market. Naturally, the guy was touting all of the benefits of his eggs as compared to regular eggs from the grocery store.

So Carl did the next logical step: he performed a scientific test to compare the two.

We each had half of each egg. The tastes were totally different! I honestly did not think there would be much of a difference, especially since I don't have the world's most developed sense of taste, but in a side by side comparison: there is no comparison. The grocery store brand seemed watered down, flimsy and pale. The robust taste of the public market eggs was immediately noticeable. I really thought it might be something only noticeable by, say, testing nutrient levels in a lab. But everyone involved in the taste test (er, my wife and I) clearly preferred the public market eggs.

I'd never have guessed that free range eggs are yummier than supermarket eggs. Maybe it's time to give 'em a try: Link - Thanks Carl!

BTW, theWAREHOUSE blog is running a "fan sign" contest. You can win a prize simply by taking a picture of yourself holding a sign that says "I love theWAREHOUSE" and emailing it to him. Details here: Link - Sorry this didn't get posted before Carl, I got a little swamped!

I have to agree that there is a difference. For me it's a little more subtle than what other people have described, but the free-range eggs just taste more "eggy" somehow. Actually, I bought a carton of regular grocery-store eggs the last time I got eggs, and after having grown used to the free-range eggs I usually buy these days, those regular ones seriously tasted flavorless. They needed a ton of salt and hot sauce on them just to taste like -anything-. I really hadn't expected to be able to tell the difference, but it's definitely there!
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Having gone from "always bought eggs from the supermarket" to "have four hens out back*" in the last couple months, no question. A bit smaller, brown shells (except for the blue and green shells we'll get when some of the current chicks grow up), deeper yellow-orange yolks, and a more flavorful egg. They have free run of the yard (or at least their large pen), eat crumble feed, scratch feed (cracked corn and wheat), crushed oyster shells, and well water, plus whatever seed they pick out of their straw, and whatever bugs they eat out of the yard. No strange hormones or chemicals, and the eggs are in the fridge for a few days to a week before eating--rather than the weeks they can be stored between production farm and the grocery store.

* Well, a fox got three of them, and the rooster, so we currently have one grown hen out back, and only one egg per day, down from four. However, the four older chicks out there will grow to egg-laying age in a couple months, and whatever we keep of the younger, week-old chicks, too.
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I suggest that you compare the taste of what have been cooked with those eggs as well : cakes, soufflés, custard, etc.
And then you'll find yourself going more often to the local bio market.
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I don't at all doubt that there could be a noticeable difference between the two, but science education is of a ridiculously poor standard if an unblinded, straight-forward comparison is called a 'scientific test'. I'd have been impressed if he had have asked a friend to assist in a single-blinded judgement, perhaps even with a couple of examples of free-range and battery egg.

It might seem nit-picky, but the very fact most people would think so is good evidence towards science literacy being so poor.
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I always purchase free range eggs, but folks should be aware that a free range chicken eats everything that she thinks look good, including mice. But that is how the 'real' world works.

I know for certain the chickens are happier than those poor hens stuck in those egg barns... talk about a horror story in reality. Poor things.

I suggest you learn for yourself and make up your mind, but mine is def going for the organic/free range chickens.
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umm, well yes. As a farm kid, that's no great secret to me. You should also try my dad's home grown beef- I was shocked at what the rest of the world was eating when I moved away from home and had to fend for myself in the grocery store. And then there's my friend who resolutely declared that she hated, couldn't stand, would rather die than eat... strawberries. No biggie, I said. I'm more than happy to eat ALL your strawbs... I set out to do that... and she watched... and finally she's like- you look so happy... and tried one. It was like watching a child's face on Christmas morning- she'd never had strawberries except from the grocery store. Come my friend, let me introduce you to the wonders of farmer's markets and road-side stands. They also sell apples, peaches, pears- all kinds of goodies... and 9 times out of 10 (or 99 out of 100) the quality so far exceeds the grocery store as to be truly laughable. I'm glad I grew up this way so I knew right away when I tasted that stuff from the store that there was something better to be had somewhere.
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I like free range eggs. My taste buds and my karma. And I prefer free range organic milk more than regular milk. It tastes so much better! But even more important for my family is we don't get sick! We thought we were kind of lactose intolerant, but not any more.
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Damn straight they taste better. And if you are able to get free range anything as far as meats go?, well, you wuold never buy at the supermarket again. Did you know chickens aren't yellow skinned? Free range chickens have white skin, clean meat, no large amounts of fat. And the taste is just incredible.
If you are a carnivore, you need to raise your own. I don't hunt any more, But I would again to fill that freezer, save money, and eat healthier. Just not here in Floriduh, damn the animals are tiny.
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I'm not a green nut or a animal rights nut, but I do like good food, and I like farms. (and I mean nut in the nicest way possible).

I'm working on convincing my wife that when we graduate we should move somewhere we can afford enough land for a couple cows, pigs and some chickens.

And some fruit trees.
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hmmm, i do agree that taste is substantially better in free range eggs and meats. however, i think the bigger point of this should really be the importance and need for small, independent and responsible farming (as well as responsible shopping), for both the animals and the enviroment. we should make it a habbit and not a trend, or taste prefernce.
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Oh man...there's no difference. Actual tests have been conducted, blind taste tests with a wide range of eggs from difference sources of similar freshness. The chicken's lifestyle has no noticeable influence on the taste of the eggs. Freshness, however, is a big factor (which is why you should keep your eggs in the fridge).

So yes, eggs straight from a farmer are likely to be more fresh (and taste better). But the chicken's lifestyle isn't a factor. If you think they're happier, and that's important to you, then pay the extra money.

We're talking about eggs from a source that isn't even certified organic. They could be from ANYWHERE. Just because you're getting your eggs at a farmers market doesn't mean they're from a different source than the eggs you buy in the supermarket.
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Tim - Yellow skin on chicken is usually attributed to them being corn-fed. You can easily find free range yellow skinned chicken.

In the UK at the moment there's a whole movement to get the treatment of chickens improved. Jamie Oliver did a special about the industry. (I'm in Ireland but we get the same TV shows) We only ever buy organic meat and eggs but watching it made me so much happier that we do!
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yes! real food is better than fake food! spread the word. They tried to do this on King of the Hill the other week, but man was it... weirdly pushy and unsatisfying. Except when Hank said "You're not making any sense. Tomatoes don't taste like anything!" and Peggy said "If this is what food tastes like, what have we been eating?!"
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Yeah, the test can hardly be called "scientific".

So many other factors could have affected the results of that particular test.

I think in the Scopes monkey trial, they determined that Creationism was yummier than Evolution.
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I have a small farm and have raised a good part of my own food for quite a while and I love my free range eggs and home grown watermelons but there is a bad side to this. I have been in Iraq for the better part of 4 years. We dont have anything but powdered eggs and the watermelons taste like cardboard.
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I was wondering about the science of it, too. It's easy to taste the difference between my friend's eggs and the farmer's market eggs. The difference is that the farmer's market eggs are much less tasty than my friend's eggs. I agree that the farmer's market eggs taste more like eggs than even the organic eggs in the supermarket, but there is a range. Each farmer's eggs taste a bit different.

I'm going out on a limb here and saying that the freshness of the eggs is equal. Both farmer's market and my friends eggs include the laying dates.

Diets are markedly different. Farmer's use organic chicken feed from the feed store and plants and insects from the meadow. My friend uses food from the supermarket that has gone beyond the pull-date, plus grazing in his garden when he isn't growing anything.

So the question is, how can diet make any difference in the egg? Is there a difference in the composition of the egg, are the proteins different, or is it just a different mix of minerals in the egg?
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Well done for trying harder than the average person would, but this is still bull.

The test consisted of the absolute minimum number of subject eggs possible and was not a blind test.

The test range is so small the result are totally meaningless. Probably a pathetic attempt to try to make your unsubstantiated opinion sound scientific.
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