Does a fresh egg really taste different from an egg that has been shipped across the country and sat on a shelf for who-knows-how-long? If you have never experienced a farm fresh egg, pick up a dozen from a local hen house, such as Field of Greens, the next time you are wine tasting in Sonoma and decide for yourself.
Field of Greens
After moving to Kenwood about a year ago I noticed small signs around the county offering fresh eggs. Finally I stopped at Field of Greens, a small farm I pass several times a week. I followed the signs directing me out back behind some ramshackle, deserted looking buildings, passing a curiously out-of-place shack displaying pottery. I found a wooden sign propped up at the end of a long building, with the words, “Egg sales here. Honor Bar.” I got out of the car and faced a refrigerator sitting outdoors under the eaves of the building. After waving at the security camera I cautiously opened the refrigerator door, glancing around to see if anyone saw me, and looked inside. There I found dozens of eggs and a couple of flats containing 30 eggs each, all neatly labeled with Post-It notes. “Jumbo brown” and “XL White” made sense, but what were “Crazy Eggs”? It turned out to be a mixed dozen of different sizes and colors of eggs. The 1-dozen cartons ranged in price from $3.50 – 6.00 a dozen, which seemed a bit high compared to supermarket prices of about $1.50, but the flats were priced at $3.50—a real bargain. I made my selection and followed the simple payment directions—cash only.
Noticing the robust rosebushes on the side of the large chicken yard, I wandered over to smell the blooms, sidling over to the chain link fence that separated me from the chickens. They gently clucked and pecked at the ground, but upon noticing me they came tottering over to the fence clucking faster, apparently thinking I might be the source of some edible treat. Being a city girl I was enchanted to actually see the producers of the eggs in my hands. A farm-hand smiled at me, probably wondering what I found so fascinating. I also spotted a couple of wooly sheep on the other side of the hen house, behind the fence. I was in a real farm.
The bright yolk-yellow pottery shack offers egg cups for sale, as well as assorted other handcrafted ceramic items, such as plates, pitchers and bowls. It’s a one stop egg shop, with egg accessories in addition to the eggs themselves.
Field of Greens is a small farm producing eggs for local restaurants, markets and home chefs. According to Ron Lawson, owner of Field of Greens, their chicken are not just free-range, but free-will, as they can do what they please and have a great deal of space to roam around in. They can be inside or outside, and are provided toys to play with. Hens like shiny things so they can kick the can (aluminum soda cans) around the hen house, and have lots of hay bales to jump around on. Eggs are gathered throughout the day, washed and put in the cold room, to be delivered within a day or two.
My first fresh egg
Upon reaching my kitchen I cracked open two of the eggs and scrambled them in butter, wondering if I could taste the difference. First I noticed that the color was unusually vibrant—a much deeper yellow, almost orange. I was startled at the first bite—the rich, creamy, silky texture was like nothing I had ever tasted and the eggs practically melted in my mouth. I can’t say for sure if the actual taste was different, and based on several blind tastings conducted by others, most people can’t, but the look is different, and to me, the texture was different—creamier and smoother.
Eggs and health
Eggs get a bad rap these days from cholesterol conscious consumers, but it’s hard to find a more comprehensive nutritional package. Eggs are a complete protein and contain omega 3s, vitamin A & E, and beta carotene and its own, unique packaging– strong, yet easily opened. If only the packaging was resealable. However, many health conscious consumers shy away from eggs due to concerns about cholesterol. The role of ingested cholesterol is somewhat controversial. Many health experts in the past discouraged egg consumption for those who have high cholesterol levels and other heart disease markers, but most now distinguish between or between dietary cholesterol and saturated fat (e.g. butter, cheese, animal fats, processed meats). Saturated fat is thought to be the real culprit, and eggs are low in saturated fat. While the American Heart Association still recommends no more than one egg (with yolk) a day, the British Heart Foundation currently has no egg limitation in its dietary guidelines, recommending instead that the focus be narrowed to limiting saturated fats. The recommendations have changed because population studies have not demonstrated a link between egg consumption and blood cholesterol levels (Djousse, AJCN, 2002 and other research).
Sonoma has a long egg history, with Petaluma the undisputed historical leader in chicken production. Once known as the “Egg capital of the world,” the egg incubator was invented by Petaluma resident Lyman Byce in 1879. While most of the large egg producing farms are now located in Southern California, several smaller boutique operations, like Field of Greens, are still in Sonoma.
Whether you consume eggs daily or infrequently, the fresh eggs from the happy healthy hens at Field of Greens will show you what eggs are supposed to taste like—creamy, silky with a deep yellow color. Check the Sonoma Farm Trails website for other places to find local Sonoma eggs and other products–there’s more to Sonoma than wine.
Field of Greens
1777 W. Watmaugh Rd
Sonoma, CA 95476
Hours: 9 am to 2 pm, but the gates are often open into the evening
To reach Field of Greens from San Francisco by car (approximately 1 – 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and other conditions):
- Cross the Golden Gate Bridge and follow US 101 North
- Take exit #460A/Napa/Vallejo onto CA-37 East
- Bear left on CA-121 North (Arnold Drive) toward Sonoma
- Continue on 116 West (Arnold Drive). Stay on 116 at a Y, where Arnold Drive veers to the right—keep left on 116, also known as Stage Gulch Road, but this may not be obvious.
- Turn right on W. Watmaugh Rd.
- If you accidentally stayed on Arnold at the Y, just keep going and turn left on W. Watmaugh Rd. (Stage Gulch Rd, Arnold and W. Watmaugh bend around to form a square in this area).