Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Brown vs White

These days, most people are trying to eat healthily and make good choices. We opt for brown bread, have turned our backs on margarine, and grains like couscous and quinoa are starting to replace rice and potatoes at family meals. Blame it on the internet, the media or our fat asses, but either way making healthy choices is smart and is fast becoming a good trend

Note: even though it’s a good trend, there is a lot of bad surrounding it; low-fat, fat-free, ultra-processed “foods” are becoming the norm, and we’re at a day in age where people would sooner put a chemical into their body than a piece of real food, simply because it claimed it was the ‘healthy choice’.

Having health sit at the front of our minds means that when we’re out doing groceries or grabbing coffee, we are more often than not going to search for the healthiest option and pick it over a lesser one. If we’re craving salt we may WANT Doritos, but we BUY popcorn (funfact: 1C of air popped popcorn is about 30 calories…before butter and salt). And as we have become accustomed to manufacturers telling us what is healthy and what is not, we often grab without putting much thought into it -- Colours play a big role in our brains and our society, which is why we often grab for the light blue or brown things. Light blue = low-fat, brown = healthy and whole.

Not always the case.

Brown Eggs vs White Eggs
For some reason, brown eggs have become synonymous with health. We see brown, our brains register “healthy and whole” and we decide that brown eggs are better for us than white eggs. Not true. There is absolutely no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs. The only difference is in the colour of their shells, which is determined by the hen laying the egg: if a hen has white ear lobes (hens have ear lobes, apparently) then it produces white eggs, whereas if it has red ear lobes, it produces brown eggs. Why do brown eggs cost more? According to the internet, hens that lay brown eggs are generally bigger and eat more, hence you paying $0.49 more per carton.

So hey, save yourself a few bucks a month and just eat white eggs.

If you really want to get the most health benefits out of your eggs, opt for those free-run, certified organic, grain-fed, no-pesticide, local, etc eggs. They’ll cost you more, but they’re better for the environment, better for your body, better for the farmers and better for the chickens.

Brown Sugar vs White Sugar
In my office we get breakfast catering a few times a month, and they always bring us packets of sugar. Inevitably the brown sugar is gone much sooner than the white, and I’m left trying to find space in the pantry for 200 packs of white sugar. The thing is, brown sugar and white sugar are essentially the same thing. Brown sugar is NOT better for you than white sugar, because brown sugar is just white sugar that has been coated in molasses. For true.

Sugar goes through a refining process where it’s squished out of the cane, shipped all over the world in a raw form, then is cleaned, pressed, boiled and refined (all in about 5 hours) and turned into white sugar. Then, sugar factories take half that white sugar they just refined, spray it with molasses and voila! Brown sugar! The molasses is why brown sugar is often used for baking – it’s softer and has a bit of a richer, sweeter flavour. Brown sugar is not better for you than white sugar.

Raw sugar, on the other hand, is different. Raw sugar is closer to what you’d find by gnawing on a sugar cane or getting in a time machine and going back to India 200 years ago, as it hasn’t been super-processed yet (though it has undergone some processing, of course). If you want to cut out refined white sugars, go for raw sugar (though make sure it’s truly raw, and not just ‘raw-style’ or something).

Note: when I went on the sugar factory tour last weekend, Richard the surly sugar guy said that no one should ever eat raw sugar because it’s full of impurities and dirt and crap. I dunno. I’m sure that raw sugar you buy in a store has been cleaned of this, whereas Redpath Sugar Refinery doesn’t care if it’s clean or not since they will clean the heck out of it to make white sugar.

So the next time you’re out buying eggs or your office pantry runs out of brown sugar and you politely and passive-aggressively tell the receptionist, try to remember that while brown things may look better and more ‘whole’, in the case of sugar and eggs they’re just the same as the white.

The same doesn’t hold true for bread, obviously. Brown bread is loads better for you than white bread. White bread should only be consumed in “delicious fresh baguette with brie cheese and fresh basil” form.


  1. Once upon a time about two years ago, I was in my local grocery store grabbing some eggs, when I met a friend of mine. He mentioned that I should get the eggs with omega 3 in them because they are better for me. I pointed out that all eggs have omega 3 in them, and all eggs have the same amount in them since its a essential fat for fetal growth of chickens.

  2. When did you get to go to a sugar factory??