By Himanee Gupta-Carlson
If you’re a first-time visitor to the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, the vast variety of eggs that farmers bring to market might surprise you:
- Eggs with shells that range in hue from ivory white to deep maroon, from light blue to olive green.
- Eggs in a variety of sizes.
- Eggs from chickens, ducks, and geese.
What these eggs all share in common is the fact that they’re nutritious, relatively affordable, and delicious. “Eggs are the least expensive source of protein,” says Mary Pratt of Elihu Farm.
Pratt and her husband Bob have raised hens for decades. Their flock consists primarily of Red Stars, a breed of hen known for producing brown eggs. Their hens, like those of most other farmers, spend much of the day foraging on pasture land outdoors. This farming practice boosts not only the health of the chickens and the flavor of their eggs but also creates healthier soil.
As Jim Gupta-Carlson of Squashville Farm notes, “Everyone on our farm works together, and our chickens’ job is to fertilize and scratch at our resting garden beds and eat bugs and ticks. They free range over our resting gardens, grass, and forest. Their golden orange yolks are a sign of their healthy and diverse wild diet.”
Squashville Farm eggs come in a variety of colors from a number of different Heritage Breed hens: Araucanas lay green and blue eggs, Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons brown eggs, and Blue Andalusians and Dorkings white eggs. The color of the egg makes no difference to its flavor or its nutritional content but indicates genetic diversity within a flock.
Most farmers supplement their birds’ diet with a feed to ensure a well-rounded diet. Steve Otrembiak, of Otrembiak Farm, describes his flock’s diet as consisting of a “high protein layer mash” from a local farm that includes corn, wheat, oats, and soybeans. His chickens and his flock of ducks also nibble on bugs, worms, and green plants. “This allows the birds to live during the day as they would if they were in the wild,” he says, adding that “the birds are secured in their coop at night to protect them from predators.”
Duck eggs are usually larger than chicken eggs, with a harder shell. The eggs themselves tend to be higher in protein, omega fatty acids, and cholesterol. Duck eggs are often coveted for baking.
And then there’s the goose. Leah Hennessy, of Moxie Ridge Farm & Creamery, brings these eggs to market from her Pilgrim geese flock. Sold in pairs, the eggs about the size of an average adult’s hand. “Aside from the size, geese are exclusively herbivores so the flavor of their eggs has a ‘cleaner’ taste,” says Hennessy. “The whites have almost a mineral quality to them.”
Ask a farmer how to cook an egg and the answer is almost always as simple as possible: “Fried, over easy,” says Laurie Kokinda of Kokinda Farms.
To find eggs at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, visit the following vendors:
- Moxie Ridge, Otrembiak, and Squashville farms on Wednesdays.
- Elihu, Kokinda, Longlesson, M&A, Moxie Ridge, and Otrembiak farms on Saturdays.
The Saratoga Farmers’ Market is 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at High Rock Park. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and check us out on the FreshFoodNY app. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.