Welcome to winter! Are your girls being stingy with their eggs like mine are? I live in New England, and it is bitter cold. The wind makes it just plain ole raw. My girls are also getting older. Right now, I am getting barely any eggs, and when I can trudge through the weather into the coop, the eggs they have laid are frozen and cracked. So after a few weeks of being egg-free, I broke down and bought grocery store eggs. So I thought I would share with what I look for at the market.
How to buy grocery store eggs
- Look for pasture raised eggs. Be warned, pasture raised eggs can be $8-10 a dozen, depending on where you live. But if you skip one trip to Starbucks, it will balance out. For me, eating eggs from happy hens is priority. Plus, pasture raised eggs are a completely different nutritional product vs eggs fed solely layer pellet, containing less cholesterol and saturated fat and double the Omega-3s, triple the Vitamin E and seven times the Beta Carotene! (Understanding carton labels can be a challenge. I recommend this tutorial in an older blog post.)
- Egg color doesn't matter. I grew up with the slogan “brown eggs are local eggs and local eggs are fresh”. Depending on where you live, people will show great loyalty to one color over the other just as strongly as they will fight over their favorite baseball team. But, no matter the color, they are really just eggs, with no nutritional difference. As chicken keepers, we know, egg shell color simply varies from breed to breed. So when I am shopping for grocery store eggs, I have no preference really.
- Pulp egg cartons are better. Pulp egg cartons are almost always made from post-consumer recycled materials, and they're both recyclable and compostable. If you have a home compost, pulp cartons work as a brown material to help the pile break down more quickly. If you are creative, unlike me, you can even spend some time on Pintrest to find hundreds of projects using your old cartons!
- Avoid old eggs.
I don't know about you, but I hate buying old eggs. We all know that grocery store eggs can't possibly be as fresh as the eggs our girls bless us with. But beggars can’t be choosers, right!? So the first thing we do to find the freshest eggs at the market is to read the end of the egg cartons. You will find three things on each carton.
- The first is the sell by date. It could be as much as a month down the road!
- The second code begins with the letter P. This will be a plant number so that the USDA knows where the eggs originated if there is a problem.
- The last number will be a three-digit number from 1 to 365. This indicates the day of the year on which the eggs were collected. If the number is 015, then those eggs were collected on the 15th day of the calendar year; if the number is 206, they were collection on the 206th day, and so on. This is an easy way to find the freshest eggs in the case. To keep it simple, always look for the highest number when comparing cartons.
So that’s it. I hope this helps. And more so, I hope all of our girls pick back up laying soon! Happy winter!