Republic of Moreland

June 13, 2008

“Green” eggs show their true colours

Our chooks have gone off the lay for winter, and I find myself furious.

When it comes to buying eggs, ‘free range’ can of course mean anything from a vast grassy pasture to an undersized concrete run. And the wholesome-sounding ‘barn laid’ claim, which the RSPCA has — to its eternal shame — endorsed for a tidy sum, is a euphemism for those noisy, cruel, putrid concentration camps in which thousands of debeaked chickens compete for space.

To be on the safe side, I avoid those notorious Pace Farm eggs, and to go for certified organic. But just recently, I learned of ethical Green Eggs. My beloved, trusted Sugardough Bakery (left) in Lygon St uses, recommends and sells them, so I thought I’d give them a whirl. “You can’t get fresher than that,” is the Green Eggs motto, and the company has won many awards as an ethical, sustainable free-range enterprise.

But when broken into a bowl, these Green Eggs eggs collapsed into a slimy sludge. Their yolks were so pallid that when scrambled, they came out not so much yellow as a pale beige.

Our home-laid eggs, on the other hand, have yolks so rich they’re almost burnt orange in colour, and when scrambled, remain an intense sunflower yellow. Our home-laid eggs never collapse when broken: their whites hold together in a firm ring and their yolks sit upright and high.

I’m convinced this is partly because our chooks eat a good mix of high-protein unprocessed grains, but more importantly, they eat greens every day. Cabbage and lettuce leaves, grasses, weeds: whenever we go for a walk we come home with green bounty from Coburg’s nature strips.

Chooks need and love greens, and the greener your chooks’ diets, the richer their eggs’ yolks. All eggs aren’t equal when it comes to nutrient density. (And as Michael Pollan so elegantly puts it: “You are what you eat eats.”) None of the commercial brands seems to have decent-coloured yolk: a good indicator of chook health, as well as the nutritional composition of the egg. It seems no commercial egg farmer is giving chooks the greens they require — not, it would appear, even at the pastured ‘Green Eggs’ company.


  1. Right on, GoTA.

    I’m amazed at the crap that passes for free range eggs these days, and it’s at this time of year when chooks start piking on us that we really notice how lousy everything else but home-laid fare really is.

    And you’re right: more greens equals more orange. Some sort of ecological = Buddhist nexus, perhaps? Or maybe Hindu. Whatever… tastes good and looks good, that’s the ticket.

    Vive les poulets libres!

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — June 13, 2008 @ 11:34 am | Reply

  2. Our hens have stopped laying for winter too and when you think about it is how it should be. Everyone needs a rest, especially during the winter. (She says, coughing and hacking and dribbling on the keyboard) Maybe we have to start examining our assumptions about why we feel we should be able to enjoy eggs all year round? Maybe that’s why people started coming up with egg free recipes in the first place? (I don’t know, I’m just thinking out loud here…..) Maybe we have to incorprate it into the whole “seasonal eating” thing and make it part of a movement away from seeing the natural world as some sort of mining site? I’m all for eating meat and dairy but I do think our relationship with the animals we rely on has to reflect a healthier respect for the world around us.

    Comment by faith — June 13, 2008 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  3. ooooooooooops, forgot to mention. In winter when eggless, I get them from CERES.

    Comment by faith — June 13, 2008 @ 11:45 am | Reply

  4. I have long believed that when you see something labelled “organic” that you should avoid it like the plague. As you have discovered paying a premium does not mean that you will get a better quality product. Just buy the eggs that have the highest turnover and you will get ones that are fresh. from your description I would say that the eggs that you have bopught must be very near their use by date .
    Oh yeah and even up here our chooks are off the lay, sigh

    Comment by Iain Hall — June 14, 2008 @ 8:18 am | Reply

  5. The eggs I buy are Manning Valley free range eggs – they are produced in giant chook tractors that follow around the cows. The chooks free range, but within small spaces, which means they are predator free and the proprietors can be sure of finding the eggs! They are yummy, with a good orangey yellow yolk, and they are cheap (for free range eggs) and stocked at Coles.

    Comment by Naomi — June 15, 2008 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  6. Here’s an apposite story from today’s Age:

    Good egg guide on wish-list

    * Daniella Miletic
    * July 1, 2008

    THE nation’s leading consumer group has called for new guidelines for the egg industry.

    An investigation has sparked concerns about the freshness and low quality of eggs across Australia.

    A Choice investigation found that 36% of the 700 free-range, barn-laid and cage eggs tested were “weak and watery”, and fell below an international benchmark for quality and freshness. Using a measure called a Haugh test, scientists tested eggs sold at Coles and Safeway stores in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Brisbane.

    The results revealed there was little difference in freshness between free-range, cage and barn-laid eggs.

    Although more than a third of the eggs were deemed stale, this was an improvement on a 2004 Choice test, which revealed that 53% of free-range eggs had failed to meet standards. But consumer advocates believe this reflects cooler weather during testing, rather than better care.

    “The problem with the freshness is in relation to refrigeration,” said a Choice spokeswoman, Elise Davidson.

    “The eggs are often transported refrigerated, but then when they arrive in supermarkets they get left on shelves … and we have been told by the experts that one day out on a shelf is the equivalent of keeping the eggs in the fridge for a week.”

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — July 1, 2008 @ 11:48 am | Reply

  7. Just stumbled upon your blog which is great! Just have to say that the South Gippsland Free FRange eggs (I get them from Barkly Square’s “Yes It’s Fresh” deli) are just fantastic- enormous golden yolks. Now, I am just going on their word that they are free range, and I can’t find any information about them on the net, so if anyone can enlighten me, I’d be grateful!!

    Comment by Trupti — January 14, 2009 @ 3:48 pm | Reply

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