Lily's EggsThey should. This isn’t the ultimate beauty shot and you wouldn’t have eggs with your eggs, but see the perky verticality of that poached egg on toast? That’s the sign of a VERY fresh egg. The older the eggs, the thinner the whites, and the more flaccid the cooked egg. Now check out the deep color of the 6-minute egg yolk. That tells you that the chicken’s got a varied diet of grubs, seeds, grains, and grasses, which yield a more nutritious and delicious egg. I’ll get back to the flavor in a moment.

The most common complaint I hear about farmers’ market eggs is that they are too expensive. And this isn’t necessarily from folks on a tight budget. “Why pay $4 or even $5 a dozen,” some say, “when I can get them for $2 at a big box store or $3 at the supermarket?”

Here’s why. In addition to superior freshness, small-farmed eggs are the most likely to be conscientiously raised in a super clean and healthy environment (for you and the chickens) and therefore hormone- and antibiotic-free, and free range like this:

Free Range Chickens

Now about the flavor. I taste-tested my farmers’ market eggs against industrially farmed ones. The eggs in the photo above tasted rich and “eggy.” Honestly, all test participants tried to come up with a better description. The other eggs were blander, which gave them an “off” taste. In fact, the tastelessness of the one helped us identify the “egginess” of the other. Maybe this is why those who can don’t buy better eggs; they think of them only as cyphers for other flavors.

And, it takes only 5 minutes, 1 small pan, and 33 to 42 cents to make a boiled or poached egg-on-toast breakfast (plus the cost of a slice of bread) that has 135 calories, 9 grams protein, 6 grams fat, and 340mg sodium (the bread and a pinch of salt to season the egg).

An Egg McMuffin costs $2, has 300 calories, 18 grams protein, 12 grams fat, 780mg sodium, and requires drive-and-wait time. A grande Starbucks Latte and blueberry scone sets you back $5.40, 650 calories, 25 grams of fat, never mind the sodium and have you seen the lines. On the plus side, you do get 17 grams of protein.

Free Range Chickens

True, it takes the same 5 minutes to make breakfast no matter where you get your eggs, but when the ingredients are more flavorful, this very inexpensive, easy-to-prepare meal is far more satisfying. When you crunch the numbers, the market egg is 8 to 15 cents more expensive than a conventional egg, but way less the cost of  just about any meal you could make or buy. Next time you question the price of market eggs, think of the extra pennies as an investment in the future.