Nebraska Living E-Newsletter

Rural Living – Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs

People today are becoming increasingly passionate about the food they eat and where it comes from. Courtney Shreve, director of outreach education for the Nebraska Farm Bureau Foundation, serves as an expert source to answer readers’ most asked questions about food and agriculture. Courtney grew up working in her parent’s custom meat processing plant and on her grandparents 150-year-old farm. Today, Courtney resides on a piece of her grandparent’s farm in rural Table Rock, Neb. with her husband and daughter. Learn more in this story about the difference between white eggs and brown eggs. Hint: you’ll be shocked to learn there isn’t one!

Brown Eggs vs. White Eggs: Is there a difference?

By: Courtney Shreve

When shoppers head to the grocery store, eggs are often at the top of their grocery lists. Eggs are an essential element in my house as they are used as a quick meal for my toddler, a staple breakfast food, and for many baking projects and favorite recipes.

It can be daunting walking into the egg aisle and seeing different sizes of cartons, different sizes of eggs, different prices, and even different color of eggs. With many of these pieces to consider, still the most asked question shoppers ask is, “White or brown eggs: what’s the difference?”

Brown eggs and white eggs will clearly look different in their packages, and there are some opinions that brown eggs are the healthier choice of egg. Many people believe brown eggs are healthier than white eggs because the brown eggs most often are more expensive. This is a common misconception that brown eggs are a “better” product when in fact, there is no difference in nutritional value between white and brown eggs.

From Hen to Home

Eggs are produced by hens (female chickens) on farms and hens begin laying when they are 4-6 months old. Hens lay one egg approximately every 28 hours. A rooster is not needed for a hen to produce eggs for eating. Chickens can lay eggs in varying colors including white, dark brown, light brown, and even shades of green. Eggs are collected from chickens and then washed, checked for cracks or abnormal shapes, sized, graded, and then packaged. The process of an egg traveling from hen to your home takes approximately a week or less. 

The Color of the Shell Depends on the Chicken

You can tell what color of egg a hen will lay by looking at the color of her skin on her earlobe. Most eggs purchased in a grocery store have white shells and were produced by a White Leghorn, a breed of chicken known for their egg production. Chickens with white earlobes lay white eggs and chickens with dark earlobes lay brown eggs.

Why Is There a Difference in Price with Brown Eggs and White Eggs?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, brown eggs are more expensive than white eggs because it costs more money to feed the chickens that produce the brown eggs. This extra food cost is reflected in the price set for consumers.

So, what is the difference between eggs with white shells vs. eggs with brown shells? Just the chicken who laid the egg. 

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