Is yolk color is no longer a great indicator of the egg's nutrition?
September 22, 2023
It used to be true that, if your egg yolks were darker in color, then the better the egg's nutrition. Conscious consumers of the past would look for that deep orange yolk and stray away from lighter yellow yolks. It's sad, but this simply isn't the case anymore.
First, let's examine the past.
Yolk color used to matter, because when birds were pasture raised, they ate a variety of foraged foods like grasses, seeds, and bugs. These foods naturally contained cartenoids (fat-soluble pigments) that made the yolks darker.
These truly pastured eggs offered more nutrition (more vitamins, omega-3s, antioxidants, etc) because the birds were naturally healthier. They had access to fresh air and exercise. They didn't need drugs to survive. They ate a natural diet. They were allowed to be... well... chickens. The health of the bird has a direct impact on the nutrition of the egg.
On the flip side, birds that lived indoors on mega factory-like "farms" ate a diet of mainly wheat, corn, soy. These foods are low in cartenoids, and therefore indoor chickens produced lighter colored yolks. Since they weren't as naturally healthy, the eggs were less nutritious.
But things have changes. Let's take a look at the present.
It's sad but true. Big ag has caught onto consumer demand for "organic" and "natural" foods. They are altering food and putting a "green sheen" on the visual appearance and the labels to capitalize on these trends.
When it comes to eggs, did you know that many mega egg producers now add colorants to their feed to make the yolks superficially orange? Here are some things that might be added:
This is why yolk color used to be a great indicator of egg quality and nutrition, but not anymore. You cannot trust cheap store-bought eggs with orange yolks.
The only way to truly know the quality of your eggs is to know your farmer.
Not our farmers! No greenwashing here! Our two egg farmers who produce OUR CORN & SOY FREE EGGS never put colorants in their feed.
And that means that the yolk color will vary with the seasons, the weather, the age of the flock, etc. Varying eggs are a sign that you're getting real deal, pasture raised, naturally healthy eggs! Personally, if my food doesn't have slight variation from time to time, then I question how natural it really is.