Another common misconception is that the color of eggs is a reflection of how they were produced or how healthy they are, with the idea that brown eggs are more natural and better for you. This is not exactly true. The color of the eggshell depends on the breed of chicken. No matter what you feed the bird or how you keep it, you will not alter the color of the egg by keeping it in a cage or not, or feeding it a special diet. And it does not depend on the color of the chicken, either- my favorites, Delawares, are white with black on their wings and tail, but they lay beautiful brown eggs. Then again, I do get white eggs from the Leghorns, which are an all-white bird. So while the eggshell color is genetic, it is not directly related to the feather color of the hen. Since I have a variety of breeds of hens, my eggs are a rainbow mix of whites, browns, tans and even bluish-green eggs from my Ameracaunas (aka the Easter Egg chicken). For the most part, my farm stand customers love this, but from time to time I get folks who want brown eggs only. There is a misconception that these are better or more natural, but all my eggs have the same nutritional content because the hens are roaming free in the sunshine (which naturally increases the vitamin D present) and have access to lots of bugs, grasses and other plant material, not just grain-based poultry feed. This more natural diet actually increases the vitamins A & E, and the Omega-3 fatty acids (the heart-healthy kind) while reducing the saturated fats. These benefits are the same no matter which chicken laid the egg, but all are superior to conventionally produced eggs.
It's not your fault if you aren't sure what the labels on supermarket eggs mean, as they are deliberately confusing. While "cage-free" is better than ones that make no mention of the housing, it doesn't mean these were happy hens playing in a field. They are still in a giant chicken warehouse, but they are not confined to cages the size of a sheet of paper for their entire lifespan. "Vegetarian-fed" is also completely bogus- hens aren't vegetarians. They love to eat bugs and frogs and mice. So a vegetarian diet is an unnatural one for a bird, but it sounds good if you don't stop to think about it!
Probably the thing that I found most counter-intuitive when I began farming is the decision to refrigerate your eggs or not. While it makes sense to leave eggs you want to hatch on the counter before you incubate them, what about eating eggs? Turns out, only in America do we treat the as so perishable as to require refrigeration. I recently took a trip out of state to visit family, and as the farmer the goodies I passed out were things like ground beef, eggs and jams. I explained that they didn't have to worry that the eggs were sitting out for the 9 hour drive, as they had never been in the fridge. Eggs that have not been refrigerated don't need to be refrigerated...I regularly used eggs that have been on the counter for a couple weeks when I hard-boil them, as the shells peel more easily when you do this. Up to about 6 weeks on the counter and they are still safe, although if you find yourself questioning the safety, you can double-check by putting them in a pan of water. If they float, that means there is gas in the egg and not a good breakfast choice. I feed those ones to the pigs, who love them anyway. But if you get your eggs from a farmer and they have been refrigerated, they do need to stay that way. While you can put non-refrigerated eggs in the fridge with no issues, it does not work the same way in reverse!