Friday, April 15, 2011

Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?





This causality dilemma had a different tense: which came first; but today the question could be equally challenging. I was in the supermarket and a girl next to me reached for a box of free-range eggs. "Why are you buying those? They are more expensive!" said her partner. She whispered to him something about cage free chickens, almost apologetic, and he, not whispering, said "I don't biiiip care about the biiiip chickens, I want to eat eggs!".

Well, he obviously didn't have any problems with such dilemmas, he put it very clearly: he came first. OK, expense could be a consideration, but this supermarket is possibly Auckland's most expensive, and this couple didn't look poor, or with a big family to feed. The price difference was about NZ$2.00.



In defense of eggs



I remember when I was little, eggs were expensive, and precious. Farm ladies came to the village to sell them for cash, both to people and shops. When I was staying with grandma she used to make me the sbattuttino (egg yolk spoon-whipped with sugar), and if I found a fresh egg in the hen house I was so excited. Sometimes it was still warm, sometimes I could have it and drink it. Then, not so many years after, I read an interview with a representative of a big Italian poultry company. He said that when the company started an egg costed 100 lire (Italy's old currency), like an espresso coffee and a newspaper. I can add that I could also buy Topolino for 100 lire, my favourite comic book digest, and another big luxury! But then the article went on saying how both coffee and newspaper prices increased over the years to 1,600 lire, while eggs were still 100 lire each. To him this was a major progress for humanity, like battling hunger. Chickens, from the same company, started also to be really cheap. I don't remember how many years ago that was, but I was still young, and something was stirring inside me.

I felt that we weren't paying the right price for an egg.



From farm to industry



I don't need to tell you how eggs got so cheap, and how chickens manage to grow from eggs to frozen bags in your supermarket shelves in only 8 weeks, I am sure that you can easily guess that.
My aunt has a few chickens, she never kills them, they died of old age and sometimes, sadly, they get eaten by a fox or a stray dog. She collects the eggs and eat those, in the good season they make each one a day, in winter they lay very little. Next door my uncle is a vegetarian, he too has a couple of hens, and eat the eggs. Both my aunt and my uncle have space, nothing major, a nice little field and a few trees, but they can let the chickens out during the day, you know, just walk around picking in the grass... things that chicken like to do very much! But if my aunt and uncle were industrial chicken farmers in that same space they have they could easily pack tens of thousands of birds.


Good for you?



I have been a vegetarian for many years now, but I always ate eggs. Eating eggs for me means maybe two or three per week, sometimes more if I am baking cakes, making desserts, or making fresh pasta. But generally, I always though of eggs as a highly nutritious and precious food to use with discretion. Also my lifestyle doesn't justify eating a couple of eggs for breakfast every morning: I am not that active! I tend to count how many eggs I have per week (including all the baking and so on) and if I go over my allowance I try to balance with other protein food the week after. And this is not only for ethical reasons, but for health reasons as well.
Growing kids can handle more eggs (although more and more seem to be allergic to them), but adults... I don't know. We have so many problems with high cholesterol, obesity and heart problems in the western world that a fewer eggs wouldn't go amiss. Coming into Easter I think of special food, and eggs are special food. An old saying goes: "If you have an egg you have a meal", and that pretty much summons it up for me :-).


Photos and Text by Alessandra Zecchini ©

26 comments:

  1. What a lovely post, it's really food for thought that eggs didn't rise in value like similar priced items. I personally always buy free range eggs and chicken and when I'm really lucky my mum brings me eggs laid by their backyard chickens (always the best eggs by far).

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  2. This is a lovely post! It brings back my childhood memories when my mom used to rear chicken and ducks. I love to watch the transformation from newly soft laid eggs to the firm shell that are ready to be picked. Nothing like really fresh eggs! I wish my children could have experiences like that, but living in the city makes it impossible. My kids love eggs and we have it every week. Have a nice day!
    Love your egg holders, they are really cute!

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  3. Nice post, when i was in India i used to get fresh eggs, now i don't when the hen has laid their eggs, still I consume them.

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  4. Complimenti per foto e post, io le uova le compro tassativamente da un contadino che conosco...a 15cent/euri cad...ciao e buona giornata...

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  5. Eggs were expensive there! Here 1 pack(10eggs) costs 160JP yen or so now! I wish they were cheaper.

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  6. io sono pragmatica e quindi penso venga prima la gallina, non prendo più uova di batteria e il consumo è abbastanza contenuto ......ultimamente ho scoperto quelle di quaglia, le uso per spennellare i dolci o il pane così non mi rimangono eccedenze.....ma anche per decorare alcuni piatti....in un prossimo post ^_____^
    simpaticissimi quei porta uovo iniziali, baci!

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  7. Ciao Ale ! Il post è bellissimo, grazie !

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  8. Ciao! Pure io ho i portauova dell'Alessi! Carinissimi! ♥

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  9. Si' Manu, sono troppo carini i portauovo di Alessi, i miei bimbi si divertono a cambiare i colori :-)

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  10. io il mio pensiero sulle uova lo ho già espresso nel post di due giorni fa, mai uova di galline in batteria, sono uscite dalla mia tavaola da tantissimi anni e poi non fanno neppure bene...baci

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  11. I've always been fussy about the eggs I buy because I've seen so many awful clips about battery eggs - I agree about eggs being special - they're like bananas, perfectly packaged little pieces full of nutrition and goodness.

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  12. Great post! I always buy free range eggs.
    Have a sweet day!

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  13. Scusami, ma quei porta uovo sono spettacolari! Bellissimo post, un abbraccio.

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  14. Somehow I think that most food bloggers buy free-range eggs :-).

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  15. @ Sasa, yep, bananas are also special, and the price we pay for them really make you feel that fair trade is still a rare thing.

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  16. I adore free-range eggs. Since we started our little chicken farm sometime 8 years ago, we never bought supermarket's ones. I forgot what the taste like of those eggs there, but I always can tell that their yolks are much paler than those of free-range eggs that we raise ourselves. Great story, Alessandra.

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  17. I also grew up eating (and drinking) fresh eggs from pastured chickens, so I am very particular about eggs. I consider myself lucky because I have access to great quality eggs and get them very fresh from the chickens' owner. Frittata and pasta, to name just two dishes, acquire a beautiful color when they are made with those eggs.

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  18. Thank you Arfi and Simona. Sasa commented (on FB) that they give battery chicken some food to make the yolk more yellow. I also know that a diet of corn makes the yolk more yellow. I don't tend to look so much at the colour and I heard a lot of things about the white instead (free range make better meringues and so on). But I also forgot what battery eggs taste like, since I never buy them...

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  19. I enjoyed your post today and found it to be thoughtful. I wonder, Alessandra, do you have any thoughts to share about the the egg white products found in supermarkets today. I'm thinking of products such as Egg Beater. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

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  20. Che bel post riflessivo...non posso che condividere il tuo pensiero e adorare quei portauovo....ma come sono carini?!

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  21. @ Mary, thank you for your comment, I have never used egg white product, or pasteurized egg whites, or powder egg whites... I never felt that I needed it too, I know they are used in many commercial kitchens and pastry shops, my guess is that they are not made from free-range eggs.

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  22. umm.....le galline formano ed espellono uova in natura esattamente come tutte le femmine animali, femmina umana compresa; anche noi umani abbiamo l'ovulazione tutti i mesi come le galline ma costituiamo l'embrione solo se viene fecondato. Tecnicamente le galline fanno lo stesso.
    E' per questo che non mangio uova: sono le mestruazioni delle galline, e la cosa mi fa un tantino schifo se permettete. Ma non solo. Chesiano di batteria o allevate a terra, la produzione di uova origina un meccanismo truce di cui non tutti sono a conoscenza: per avere molte galline ovaiole (da terra o da batteria) gli allevatori fanno nascere una quantità elevatissima di pulcini che dovranno diventare poi galline. Le femmine. I pulcini maschi, negli allevamenti dedicati alle galline ovaiole, vengono buttati senza troppi complimenti, vivi (ucciderli prima sarebbe un costo aggiuntivo) , in un tritacarne per farne pastone e/o concimi. Non vi metto i link perchè vi assicuro che sono davvero da perderci il sonno quelle immagini.
    Ecco sono questi i motivi per cui non mangio uova.
    Le uovain sè non uccidono nessuno, è il meccanismo di allevamento che fa danni, e non voglio farne parte.
    Baci Ale.
    B.

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  23. Penso che questa sia la stessa ragione per cui molti vegan non mangiano neppure i latticini, per come sono trattati gli animali. E capisco. Ma non definisco le uova come mestruazioni, le uova non gallate sono solo uova non fecondate, per me basta rispettare i tempi di produzione. Quando le galline ne fanno tante non le covano tutte, quando le vogliono covare le si lasciano, quando i pulcini nascono non c'e' bisogno di ucciderli, questo lo fanno i grandi allevatori, e lo fanno per vendere, e lo fanno perche' c'e' chi le compra. Dopo tanti anni di vegetarianismo sono cosciente che il mondo non diventera' mai vegetariano, e tanto meno vegano, ma almeno si puo' cercare di mangiare meno. Ho tolto carne e pesce, e controllo uova e latticini, nello stesso modo in cui cerco di limitare l'uso di benzina, energia elettrica, rifiuti, plastica, spese superflue, farmaci, prodotti chimici, alcolici... non saro' perfetta ma la mia armonia l'ho trovata :-)

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  24. Alessandra la perfezione onon è possibile, per la stessa natura umana...la cosa più bella è fare come fai tu: cercare il proprio equilibrio. E chi lo trova è fortunato :)
    B.

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  25. I always buy free range and i should really get into the habit of writing free range on my blog recipes to encourage others. If we all buy free range the price will soon come down which has considerably over the past few years. I love your egg cup holders.

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