Half a billion eggs

I switched my eating lifestyle about 6 months ago — going from the types of food that most North Americans eat — to organic meat, fish and poultry (i.e. free range and living with a bit more respect than the “product” farms”); and organic and locally grown produce.  I stopped buying any prepared foods and bake and cook all my own.  For awhile I’ve been in my own inner turmoil over eggs.  Because I bake so much, I use a great deal of eggs.  And there is a world of difference to my extremely slim pocketbook between $1.49 for a dozen extra-large eggs at Trader Joe’s, and $3.79 for a dozen large free-range organic eggs.  I’ve done my research and it seems that the nutritional value between organic and non-organic is virtually the same.  That the brown eggs cost more because the chickens need additional feed.  And that the choice to buy organic eggs is largely a moral choice.  Well, I couldn’t bring myself to buy the less expensive eggs because I can’t deal with the idea of eating the eggs from these poor chickens who sit under each other, being defacated upon, and basically spending a life just sitting in a cage and laying eggs.  It seemed to me that it couldn’t possibly be a clean enough environment, and that the chickens must ingest some of that poop.  Which would lead to them having to be treated with massive amounts of antibiotics to keep them from getting … salmonella.

Well, I may be spending $4-6/week on my eggs, but I’m not one of those who is going to get sick from one of the FIVE HUNDRED MILLION (yes — 500,000,000 ….500M) eggs that have been recalled.  Talk about food conglomerates owning the food chain.  How is it possible that we have left ourselves in the hands of such huge monopolies, whose bottom line is only about bottom line?  Having worked in corporate environments for so many years, I understand adhering to minimum requirements, but I have also seen what minimum requirements are…and I can guarantee you, they are to minimize the exposure of a company, NOT to guarantee the safety of the North American consumer.  Here’s a CNN article on the mess.

If there is any more “in-your-face” example of how the food chain has been corrupted, I’m not sure what it would be.  the salmonella is not on the shells of the chicken eggs.  It is in the eggs.  The laying hens are contaminated from eating tainted feed, or ingesting fecal matter from other chickens, or from myriad reasons.  So either the chickens will be destroyed, or they’ll be treated with massive antibiotics to get rid of their infections.  Which will pass, again, through to the eggs.  We are what we eat and as a society we are far too reliant on major industry.  When something like this egg disaster happens, you can see how fragile our food-chain system has become.  That is why it is SO important to support your local farmers.  At the very least, I can get local supply of free-range chicken eggs if I need to.  At the very least, I can get seasonal produce from the farmer around the corner. 

It doesn’t matter that it is more expensive — my pocketbook is very tight, yet I’d rather eat food that I know will not make me sick…if we stop supporting local growers and they shut down, what happens when we really have a contamination crisis and can’t count on quality of the product from most of the mega-growers?

Here’s another thing to think about.  When is the last time you found a bug in your salad, a worm in your tomato, or  in your lettuce?  I’m sure you’ll be hard-pressed to remember a time.  When I switched over to locally grown and organic produce, I started finding a few bugs here or there.  A ladybug in my salad.  A worm in one tomato and an ear of corn.  A bit of rot on a lemon.  The last time I remember finding a worm in a tomato was probably about 15 years ago (and I launched it across the table at my sister…not on purpose…which was what I had done all through our childhood, whenever I found a worm in my veggies or fruit).  This summer when I found a worm in my corn I was actually amazed and delighted.  It meant that the corn had been grown in an environment where a bug might actually wander into the crop.  If none of you remembers the last time you found a bug in your produce, what does that mean about the environment in which they are grown?  All I’m saying is think about it.

2 thoughts on “Half a billion eggs

  1. Why extra-large eggs? I thought recipes are based on large. Are extra-large better value? BTW, at my grocer $1.49 gets you medium.

    I’ve heard that worm-eaten corn are the sweetest.

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