You’d think that buying eggs would be simple. In reality, it is actually quite complicated. There are eggs with various nutrients added to them, different sizes, traditional, organic, free-range – and they all come with a wide range of price tags. The question many people have is: Are cheap eggs as nutritious as the more expensive options? CBC Marketplace -a popular program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – investigated. Here’s what they found. (1)
Are Cheap Eggs As Nutritious As Expensive Ones?
When choosing eggs from the grocery store refrigerator, you will see prices that range from $2.75 per dozen to nearly $8 per dozen. (1) That is quite a range. Journalists for CBC’s Marketplace noticed this disparity and wondered, “are cheap eggs as nutritious as the expensive ones?”
Typically, they found that the cheapest eggs are the conventional variety, and the more expensive are organic. For their investigation, they collected two cartons of each of different types of eggs from 14 brands from various stores across Toronto and the surrounding region. They then sent 29-dozen eggs to an accredited food science lab to test their nutritional content. (1)
The lab tested for (1):
- Cholesterol level
- Vitamins A, D, and E
The results were analyzed by two Toronto-based registered dietitians as well as a poultry nutritionist and professor from the University of Alberta. They found that the expensive organic eggs didn’t have any more nutritional value than the cheaper conventional ones. (1)
Conventional Eggs Vs. Big Brand Organic Eggs
To begin, the researchers started by comparing the conventional eggs with the largest organic egg producers. In this instance, they found next to no differences nutritionally between the two. The only real disparity was in price: An average of $3.23 per dozen versus $6.98 per dozen. (1)
Moreover, some of the cheaper eggs actually had higher levels of some nutrients than the organic ones. Where the organic eggs did win out was in levels of Omega-3 fatty acids. One large egg had on average 0.13g of the essential fatty acid, whereas the conventional eggs typically had about 0.05g. (1)
Big Brand Organic Vs. Small Producers
Next, the researchers tested the large organic producers’ eggs against those of small organic producers. The small farmers beat out the large ones on nearly every level when it comes to the traditional content of their eggs. The stats per one large egg are as follows (small farm vs. big brand) (1):
- 3.25 mg vs. 2.16 mg vitamin E
- 31.65 IU vs. 20.50 IU vitamin D
- Small farm eggs had 1 gram more of protein than large brands
- Small farm eggs had slightly less cholesterol than large brands
“The small flocks have a greater opportunity to access the outdoors and some of the diversity of foods they might find out there,” said Gerald Poechman, an organic farmer with a flock of 6,000 birds near Hanover, Ont. (1)
Marketplace also found that free-run eggs and small farm organic eggs had no real differences in nutritional value. You will, however, pay about $6 per dozen free-run eggs versus $8 per dozen for small organic farm eggs. (1)
If Cheap Eggs Are As Nutritious, What Are You Really Paying For, Then?
So if you aren’t paying for added nutritional value, then what are you paying for with the more expensive egg brands? For starters, being certified organic isn’t free. Producers have to go through the recertification process every single year as well as undergo audits throughout the year. The certification costs money, not to mention organic feed for the hens is also more expensive than non-organic. (1)
The reasons to buy organic, from small producers, or free-range eggs go far beyond the perceived nutritional superiority. These reasons include:
- Happy chickens who spend most of their lives happily exploring the outdoors instead of crammed in cages
- Supporting small, local farmers and businesses
- Not consuming products that have come in contact with pesticides and GMO products
Are cheap eggs as nutritious? Ultimately, the decision as to which eggs you should buy comes down to you and what is most important to you. If the price is #1, then you can rest assured that your family is eating a nutritionally adequate product. If not consuming GMOs or chemicals, supporting small businesses, or animal rights are of higher value to you than price, then pick one of those brands. At the end of the day, what winds up on your plate is entirely up to you.
- “Are cheaper eggs just as nutritious as organic or free-run options? Marketplace tested 14 brands to find out.” CBC. Caitlin Taylor, Anu Singh, Charlsie Agro. April 3, 2021.