Do eggs from backyard chickens really taste better?

Columnist Beth Kassab visits the Lothrops' backyard chickens to see what the hype is all about.

You probably know a beer snob — somebody who only drinks certain brews. You may even know a pizza snob or a sushi snob.

Chances are, as Orlando expands its backyard chicken program, you'll come to know an egg snob — if you don't already.

Fresh eggs are so much better, they say. They taste better. They look better. They even have a better feel, claim the eggheads.

But are backyard eggs really all they're cracked up to be? I was skeptical, so I set up a taste test.

I don't question the basic benefits of raising backyard chickens.

People want more control over their food. Where it comes from. And what's in it.

I get that.

And I get why the City Council voted Monday to increase backyard chicken permits from 25 to 75 and up the number of hens families can raise from three to four.

But how much better can the backyard eggs really taste over the cartons of uniformly white eggs I buy at the grocery store each week?

Isn't an egg just an egg? A wonderfully versatile form of protein with a yellow yolk?

Not if you talk to the exclusive egg set.

"I taste the difference when I eat my eggs all the time, and then I go to a restaurant and eat their eggs," says Gabby Lothrop, who owns three hens at her Audubon Park home.

I see.

Backyard chicken owners love to compare shell colors and swap stories about how they dote on their hens with snacks of vegetable scraps and spacious coops.

This all says something about how we look at luxury today.

When Gabby and I were growing up in the '80s, extravagance was all about convenience and expending as little effort as possible.

Dining out instead of cooking at home.

Plastic surgery over exercise.

Brick-size cell phones instead of finding a pay phone.

Today living the good life means spending the time — and money — to eat organic, buy carbon offsets for your cross-country flights or tend to chickens in your backyard.

CHICAGO

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