Three years ago I wrote a post asking if $7.50 was too much to pay for a dozen eggs. The eggs in question were gathered from pasture-raised chickens and in my post I brought up how pasture-raised poultry was handled differently than free-range or cage-free and why it was worth it to me. The debate in the comment section was lively, as I'm sure you can imagine. Today I usually pay $6.00 per dozen to a different farmer for my eggs, which leads me to question: do you seek out pasture-raised eggs and are you willing to pay more for them?
I'm happy that I can find delicious pasture-raised eggs for a little less than what I was paying before. I know farming is rough, difficult labor and it's hard for a farmer to make ends meet these days, especially if they are paying for land, equipment and other startup costs. The $6 eggs come from a farm that is already very established, selling fruits and vegetables at many markets in my area and to local restaurants. Their initial costs probably weren't as high as at the farm selling $7.50 eggs.
People queue up for these eggs, sometimes getting to the market 20 minutes early. This is especially true in the winter when egg production drops along with the sunlight and temperatures. Eating close to the source and following the seasons means that you have to adjust to the ebb and flow of production, something I've gotten used to over the years.
It's important to note that purchasing your eggs at the farmers' market does not automatically mean that they are better eggs or that the chickens are kept in conditions superior than those raised in a factory. Nor does the fact that they're brown or green mean that they will taste better (the color of the egg is just indication of the chicken's breed). Be sure to ask the people selling your eggs a little about their operation and if it's convenient, try to visit the farm. Most decent operations welcome visitors and often host a customer appreciation day or two.
To my tastebuds eggs from pasture-raised chickens do taste better than factory eggs. Their flavor is full and rich, usually with a deep yellow-orange yolk (which has to do with what the chickens were eating) and a thick white that sits up high and holds its shape. When I occasionally use a factory-raised egg, I am struck by the difference: the factory egg is a pale, watery mess in comparison.
What are the costs of pasture-raised eggs in your area? Are you willing to pay for them? Why? I know that prices where I live (SF Bay Area) are higher than most places in the country and I always feel a pang when I hear of or see pasture-raised eggs going for $3.00 or less a dozen. Egg envy!
Related: On Why I Pay $7.50 for a Dozen Eggs
(Image: Dana Velden)