The Egg Project – Vital Farms Pastured Eggs 12


VitalFarms_Cooked

Vital Farms Pastured Eggs

I’ve heard a lot about these. If you spend any time at all looking at the egg section of Whole Foods Market, some helpful person will walk up and suggest the Vital Farms eggs. If you ask “Why” you’ll get some sort of answer along the lines of “Well, they’re the best!” And yes, the response will be a happy, perky response, from someone who clearly just took a shot of espresso. I’ve been looking to buy these, in fact, since I started The Egg Project for that very reason. I mean, if they’re that good, then I need to share with you all exactly how good they are!

Unfortunately for me and you, it seems like the Whole Foods Market helpful people are quite good at convincing their customers that Vital Farms eggs are, indeed, the best. Because every time I try to buy them, the shelves have been bereft of these eggs… They must be good if they’re always sold out! At least, that’s a reasonable expectation. There are some other considerations at play here, of course. It could be that Vital Farms is unwilling to permit eggs older than a few days, or something. So since Whole Foods likely only restocks their shelves once per week, they’ll manage their shelves so that the Vital Farms eggs all sell out within the Vital Farms policy. I can think of another few reasons as well, but the most fun one, of course, is that they’re just that good!

Bright Orange Yolks, Thick Viscous Whites

VitalFarms_Eggs

The Vital Farms yolk was a little more yellow than I would like to see. I am constantly looking for the bright orange that we’ve seen out of some of our eggs. Clearly nutrition plays a major role in the coloration of the yolk. Vital Farms talks a good game on their website, although they do not actually tell us what they feed their chickens. Chickens, like all birds, are healthiest when they have an abundant source of bugs available to them. The pictures, and the mental image, that Vital Farms paints on their site makes their pastures sound something like “pristine”.
This is all great, and everything, but I’m wondering how the pastures are attracting bugs for the chickens to eat… But we’ll get back to this a bit when we talk about the egg whites. I’m just wondering if, possibly, the bug content of a chicken’s diet will also affect the color of the yolk. It makes sense – if your body expects live protein, and isn’t getting live protein (or not much), it will be less effective and efficient at converting it’s other nutrients in the way that it would otherwise.

VitalFarms_Cracked

The Whites:
The egg whites on this egg were a little bit thinner than I was expecting. I’ve read that the thickness of the egg white is partially determined by the freshness of the egg, so it’s possible that these eggs were less than optimally fresh; but if that’s the case, the freshness was lost in transit, and on the Whole Foods Market shelves – I cooked this egg the day after I bought the carton. So freshness could be a factor. A factor that I am a little bit more interested in, though, is whether or not the Vital Farms chickens are getting enough bugs in their diets… Here’s what I have to say to that:
In the wild, things are constantly creating bio-waste, which attracts bugs, and chickens (and most birds) are constantly on the hunt for the bug-magnets out there for their food. The idyllic mental image that Vital Farms paints, of long, comfortable rolling fields of unmolested wild grass sounds pretty, and sounds like a great place to go throw a stick for a dog. I would love to look at those out the back window of my house! But there needs to be something to attract bugs for the chickens to eat. No bugs, less-than-optimal bird diet. And that will leave us with thin egg whites.
But that’s just my two cents. Let’s see what they taste like. Maybe their not-bright yolk will be the most delicious yolk I’ve ever had! Maybe the whites are filled with delicious protein that will trigger my salivary glands to overproduce, telling me that I want more, more, more!

VitalFarms_Cut

The flavor:

So far I’ve given middling marks, at best, for the color of the yolk and the thickness of the whites. Let’s find out whether or not the flavor holds up… Annnnndd: It does!
The egg yolk was bursting with flavor. I’m really not sure whether or not I could taste individual dietary input for the hens in the yolk; or if that’s even possible. But it tasted to me like the hen was eating flowers. Probably clover flowers. It was verging on sweet, and filled with the sort of flavor that you get from a clover flower (yes, I have eaten clover flowers). It was wonderful! I will most definitely enjoy each and every one of the remaining eggs in the package.
Continuing to eat the egg: the whites had some flavor as well. Egg whites don’t really have a whole lot of flavor, at least to me, so I don’t normally look for anything in particular when I eat them. But this egg white did have a bit of flavor, and I enjoyed it. Also, while the egg white didn’t seem particularly thick when I cracked the egg, it definitely thickened admirably when it was cooked. I was surprised, to say the least.

VitalFarms_Open

What stood out:

This was one of the tastiest egg yolks I’ve eaten.
I’m enamored with the “minimum 108 square feed per hen” guarantee.
This is something that really means a lot to me – these are hens that are given all the space that they need to be able to behave like an animal. In conjunction with the flavor of the egg, this is definitely something I strongly appreciate.
These eggs seem to be well-loved by other customers. It could be that the other customers haven’t tried the other eggs that I’ve reviewed here on The Egg Project, but these seem to me to be the best selling egg on the Whole Foods Market shelves, including their more conventional products. Considering the price, that’s a very powerful statement!

Further reading:

The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.

  1. Pastured, Cage-Free hens
  2. No hormones or antibiotics
  3. Certified Organic
  4. Certified Humane
  5. Sustainable farm raised
  6. Soy-Free Feed

These eggs get a shining check-mark for each of the first 5 of my criteria. Checking out their site thoroughly, I can’t find anywhere which promises soy-free feed. As I stated above in the critique of the eggs, the eggs were delicious, which indicates that they eat plenty of green leafy vegetables – but I can’t be sure what else they are fed, if anything.


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12 thoughts on “The Egg Project – Vital Farms Pastured Eggs

  • mummyflyingsolo

    I learnt some great stuff about eggs in this post. I’m constantly looking for great eggs. I grt mine from the local farmers market and they are supoosed to be local eggs but I’m really unimpressed my them. They are massive but lack a bit in colour and flavour. You’ve reminded me that I can try a health food shop too so I’m going to give that a go. Thanks!

    • urbanpaleochef

      Awesome! Thanks MFS for the comment!
      I’ve been really enjoying writing these Egg Project posts; and I really hope that people start to make informed decisions about their eggs, like you are! :)

    • urbanpaleochef

      Shoot! I was really hoping that wasn’t the case! And for the most expensive eggs on the shelf, I would expect more… Oh well. They’re still pretty good, even if they’re not perfect, right?
      Thanks for finding and pointing that out to us Edward!

    • urbanpaleochef

      That is SO FREAKING DISAPPOINTING!!! Can someone, PLEASE, remind these bird-farmers that “The early bird gets the WORM!” It doesn’t go “the early bird gets the soy-bean and wheat germ.” because birds eat worms!!!! And chickens are no different!!
      But, you know that. I’m preaching to the choir here. Or another preacher. Either way….

      • vitalfarms

        Hey Brian, thanks for the great article, and the positive feedback – we always love it when someone takes the time to really crack open great eggs. But, to answer your point (or rather, your disappointment) about soy, can i suggest that you go visit our site and check out one of our most recent blog posts about this very topic. It’s perhaps not as cut and dried as you might think – and while, yes, we absolutely do everything that we can to make sure the girls have plenty to eat out on the pastures (including bugs, worms and other critters), that’s not always enough to meet their dietary requirements, so we supplement.

        Have a read here (http://vitalfarms.com/news/blog/), and feel free to drop us a line at info@vitalfarms,com if you have any other questions!

        Dan

  • Clay Young

    Don’t know if you’ve heard of the Cornucopia website at http://www.cornucopia.org/2010/09/organic-egg-report-and-scorecard/. They rate Vital Farms at 5 Eggs, their highest rating. They have a very detailed rating system but one thing concerns me about it. Do they just take the word of the producer or do they actually look at the farm. Some comments on their website mention a visit by “staff” to some farms. If I wasn’t so busy (or lazy), I would contact them.

    • urbanpaleochef

      Well, perhaps I should contact them myself… But in the mean time, I can understand why these would be rated so highly when compared with other “Organic” eggs. In the egg-basked (pun?) of available Organic eggs, these are pretty freakin’ good.
      I’m taking my comparison to a whole new level, though. For me, it’s not good enough to just be organic. I don’t want my eggs from hens which were caged and forcefed organic soy. Those hens won’t be producing a product that’s even worth rating to me. As I explain in the bottom of the post, my rating is only considering hens that are actually pastured, somewhere with bugs for them to eat. “The early bird gets the worm” to me is prescriptive, only the birds that are actually eating bugs are worth considering.
      And when you put Vital Farms in with the other Pastured eggs, they’re no longer as outstanding as they were when rated against all Organic eggs. Now, take a look at my thoughts on Pete and Gerry’s Ameruacana Heirloom Eggs – those are truly outstanding!
      http://urbanpaleochef.com/2013/08/16/the-egg-project-pete-and-gerrys-heirloom-ameraucana-eggs/

  • Jeff

    Vital eggs is a collector, cleaner and packager of eggs they collect from many farmers that do pastured eggs
    So unless you buy direct from your pastured egg farmer you cannot know exactly how they are raised.
    If the you is yellow they aren’t getting the legumes and insects like they should on pasture.