Currently, only about 10 percent of egg-laying chickens in the U.S. live in cage-free houses like the one seen in this photo. Courtesy of Big Dutchman, Inc. hide caption

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Cage-free chickens in a barn near Hershey, Pa., get to roam and perch on steel rods, but they don't go outside. This week, McDonald's became the latest big buyer to demand cage-free eggs. Dan Charles/NPR hide caption

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A plate of huevos rancheros topped with a basted egg. Lydia Thompson/NPR hide caption

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The hard part of making an egg replacement product is coming up with a substitute for the protein in egg whites. Wilson Hui/Flickr hide caption

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The Salt

Eggs Go AWOL, And Bakers Scramble For High-Tech Substitutes

The national egg shortage is hitting bakers hard. Some are replacing eggs with highly engineered ingredients that promise to work just as well.

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Eating eggs with your salad helps boost absorption of carotenoids — the pigments in tomatoes and carrots. Photo illustration by Meredith Rizzo/NPR hide caption

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Cartons of eggs are stacked on shelves at Laurenzo's Italian Center, May 21, 2015, in Miami. Joe Raedle/Getty Images hide caption

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A gate blocks the entrance of a farm operated by Daybreak Foods, on May 17, 2015 near Eagle Grove, Iowa. The facility was reportedly struck by the current outbreak of bird flu. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsick says biosecurity measures are crucial to containing the spread of the disease, which has only infected birds, not humans. Scott Olson/Getty Images hide caption

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Steve Kudlacek is an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine who helped Professor Greg Weiss develop a way to unboil an egg. Steve Zylius/UC Irvine Communications hide caption

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