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A carton of colorful eggs.


What’s the Difference Between White and Brown Eggs?

Why are chicken eggshells different colors? Seriously, this question should be a 1,000-pointer on "Jeopardy!"

The color of a chicken’s egg entirely depends on the breed of chicken. That’s right. Like so much in life, it all comes down to genetics.

The biggest misconception out there is that “all eggshells are naturally brown, and white eggs were bleached.” Buzz! Incorrect. While it is true that eggs are cleaned before being packaged and sent to your grocery store, they are not bleached.

In fact, most eggs start out white, but different breeds are genetically coded to release different colored pigments as the egg passes through the hen’s oviduct. Voilà! You have different colored eggs. Just like when you dye Easter eggs, the pigment doesn’t penetrate the shell. Inside, eggs all look more or less the same (although you may see lighter or darker yolks depending on what the chickens are eating at that time of year).

This Bovan Brown chicken on the Toews’ Organic Valley egg farm lays brown eggs.

This Bovans brown chicken on the Toews’ Organic Valley egg farm lays brown eggs.

The cheeky Bovans brown hen above lays the brown eggs you see in Organic Valley cartons. Sometimes you might come across a speckled egg for a bit of variety.

Are Brown Eggs Organic?

Have you ever heard someone say “brown eggs are organic and white eggs aren’t?" This isn’t necessarily true. Remember, “organic” refers to how the chickens are raised and how the eggs are handled — whether an egg is organic or not has nothing to do with its color.

You might also hear “white eggs come from white chickens and brown eggs come from brown chickens,” but that’s an oversimplification. For example, some heritage breeds like Araucana chickens lay robin’s-egg-blue eggs. Olive eggers lay green eggs, but these chickens don’t have blue or green feathers!

The eggs laid by the hens at the Welsh Family Farm in Iowa are shades of brown and tan, with a speckled one here and there.

What Color Are Organic Valley Eggs?

Why don’t we have multi-colored eggs in Organic Valley cartons? Again, it’s a matter of breed. Organic Valley farmers choose breeds that are highly reliable and consistent egg layers, like Bovans browns, highline browns and Lohmann browns, which all happen to lay brown eggs. These breeds also happen to have calm, non-aggressive personalities (which also makes them fun to photograph!).

Some of our farmers may raise wacky breeds of chickens on the side just for fun or for their family’s consumption, like this fun crested chicken seen below during a photo shoot with the DeKam family, Organic Valley dairy farmers in Michigan.

A chicken with feathers sticking out looks at the camera at the DeKam farm.

A wacky looking chicken is in the spotlight at the DeKam family farm.

No matter whether your Organic Valley eggs are dark brown or light tan, we bet they’ll taste delicious! Try them poached on top of avocado toast and sprinkled with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper, or fried up for a good ol’ fashioned bacon and egg sandwich on hearty wheat bread. You can also get creative and add variety to eggs by experimenting with 21 Simple Ways to Spice Up Eggs.

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