How to buy farm-fresh eggs

Farm-fresh eggs from pastured hens taste great and are a boon to your body. Here's where to find them and how to cook them

Poached Eggs with Smoked Trout and Potato Hash
Photo: Thomas J. Story

Creamy Baked Eggs with Asparagus and Pecorino
Serve these smooth, rich-tasting eggs as soon as they come out of the oven, with toast.

Poached Eggs with Smoked Trout and Potato Hash
Poaching is a fast, easy way to enjoy the flavor of fresh eggs. They’re served over a simple oven-roasted hash.

A fresh egg from a hen that spends most of its time pecking around in open pasture is a wonderful thing to eat: deeply flavorful, with a bright yellow (sometimes almost orange) yolk and a tender white.

Besides flavor, pasture-raised eggs seem to be better for you too. Several studies suggest that they’re higher in omega-3s and vitamins A, B12, and E and lower in fat and cholesterol.

The difference, according to Jo Robinson, author of Pasture Perfect (Vashon Island Press, 2004; $15) and founder of eatwild.com, is in the chickens’ feed. “Fresh grass is a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids and carotenoids. Eggs from chickens raised on good pasture have an intense yellow-gold color, most pronounced in the spring and early summer, when the grass is at its peak.” The shells, though, can be any color. Whether brown, white, or blue, they simply indicate the breed of chicken, not what it ate.

In the supermarket, you’ll see “cage-free” and “organic” eggs, but these labels don’t specify feed and don’t necessarily mean that the birds spend time outside. “Pasture-raised” isn’t a government-approved definition, but it’s generally accepted to mean that the chicken got most of its nutrition from foraging, with some grain to supplement. Although these eggs aren’t widely available in stores, you can often find them at farmers’ markets. Pick up a dozen and treat yourself.

Next: Buying eggs ― Quick facts

 

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