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
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.
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!
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.
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!
The critique over with, here is what I use as a base for evaluation of my eggs.
- √ Pastured, Cage-Free hens
- √ No hormones or antibiotics
- √ Certified Organic
- √ Certified Humane
- √ Sustainable farm raised
- 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.