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Eggs In France

June 1st, 2012

I bought some fresh eggs today from a woman with a small stand in the morning market that sets up almost every morning in the big square outside my apartment, Le Jardin Grande (The Big Garden). They were expensive, 2.85 euros for six eggs. That’s about $3.54 in US Dollars right now or around $7.00 a dozen. Way, way more than I would ever pay for eggs in the US. But, damn, they were good eggs! Maybe the best I’ve ever had. Big and rich, with dark orange yolks. I’m still not sure they’re worth $7.00 a dozen on a regular basis, but as a little splurge now and then, hell yeah.

A lot of Americans are confused and maybe even a bit troubled by the fact that eggs are not refrigerated in France. At least not in the grocery stores. I know I was when I first realized this. Go into any grocery store and you’ll find the eggs stacked and displayed on a shelf, an endcap or a table somewhere in the store. But, definitely not in the refrigerated section. “How can this be,” I wondered? Won’t they all go bad immediately?

So, I decided to do a little research and see what I could dig up. How is it that eggs need to be refrigerated in the US, but not in France? Doesn’t really make any sense to me. Here’s what I was able to find:

It turns out that eggs are not refrigerated anywhere in Europe, including England. Someone even said that the US is ONLY place where eggs are refrigerated. OK, but why? There seem to be several theories/opinions about this.

Some folks claim it has do with the fact that in the US egg producers are forced to wash the fresh eggs which then strips them of their protective coating, thereby requiring that they be refrigerated. So, if you have fresh, unwashed eggs, there’s no need to refrigerate them.

Another “theory” is that if the eggs have been refrigerated already they need refrigeration, if they haven’t, they don’t. These folks say that the natural protective coating gets removed by the condensation that forms in the refrigerator.

Finally, another person claims that this “odd, rather new-fangled idea to place eggs in the refrigerator in the US,” is due the fact that our eggs are almost always produced by large, chemical based companies. Because the chickens are fed so many chemicals the eggs contain traces of these chemicals and the chemicals break down the natural ability of the eggs to protect themselves. Eggs produced by chickens where are fed or administered chemicals therefore need to be refrigerated.

All very interesting. For me, I’m happy to not refrigerate the eggs while I’m here in France, but I’ll stick to refrigerating the ones in the US.

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