What an egg taught me
Today I finally got around to doing one of my least favorite chores – grocery shopping. I dislike this task so much I once paid a lady a year to do it for me. I know, indulgent, but she offered me sanity and freedom for a small price during one of those big life transition periods.
Well today was one of those 'we haven’t got anything in the house' shops. Do you have these? You go up every aisle and before you know it you are shopping for what looks like a family of ten when it’s really only four. I also have to say the person who designs electric shopping cart has my vote. I did a workout on my biceps and hip flexors by the time I made it to the counter.
Anyway, enough said about the shopping. I wanted to talk about eggs! Yes, eggs.
Are you even an egg consumer?
Before I launch into my commentary on eggs I acknowledge that a proportion of the population may not eat eggs. So if you are ovo-vegetarian you look at eggs, if you are vegan or lacto-vegetarian, well maybe you do for others. I personally love eggs. Eggs are in the top five on my list of foods I would have if stranded on a deserted island. (Being stranded with someone else to cook for me is also on the list.)
So being an egg consumer I visit the egg section of the market frequently. I always go free range. I want happy chickens and fantasize that these birds lovingly create their eggs for my culinary enjoyment. Until today I never looked in detail at what free-range really means. The only meaning for me usually was more dollars out of the pocket.
So this egg consumer got curious and decided to be as conscious an eater as possible, at least on the egg front. Unfortunately I have to admit that this change of habit is not an easy journey. I am on my way hopefully. In my favor, I have access to good quality free range eggs and am willing to pay the price for them. Against me, I don’t have space to have chickens so I am reliant on egg farmers. I don’t see myself as the kind of girl who would have chickens, but after reading all that I have read today I am really close to getting my eggs straight from the source myself.
Following are some bits and pieces of what I came across in my journey. You might find this interesting.
What’s a good egg today?
Perhaps in the ‘good old days’ eggs were just eggs. They didn’t have Omega added, or depend on whether the chicken walked around or was trapped in a cage. No, back then in the time of the 'original free range hen', these egg layers lived on the land and very zen like did their job to feed us. The only difference from the consumer point of view was perhaps the type of hen.
Now if you go to the store you have choice. Not choice by type of hen, but choice by type of marketing from the numerous egg producers. It is this marketing that caught my eye today and started my journey...
I looked at the numerous choices. There is a wide range (no pun intended) of products including caged, omega enhanced, barn laid, free range. For all we know there could be a new brand about to come on the market called ‘spa eggs’, eggs laid by pampered chickens. Not likely. No time to research so I went with my gut, since my gut was out shopping. What felt right? I liked the eggs called “Gourmet Free Range Eggs” and the fancy blue box. The packaging was different and inviting. I wanted originality in my egg - (going to town with the you are what you eat. I want to be an original egg.)
Once home I went to unload the eggs into the ergonomically designed egg holder in our new fridge (see earlier post). To my pleasant surprise, when I opened the box, a picture of the egg farmer that collected these eggs greeted me. I loved seeing Allan’s face (yes he had a name!) and learning of the story about him and eggs. Nice touch. Made me feel even better about buying the eggs at the high price I did (yes I am a sucker for good marketing)
But wait there’s more
In typical style I had to Google the egg company and the farmer to find out more. What I found was interesting in that the story of the free range egg lived on in marketing reports but not the company’s parent website. Despite the fantastic marketing packaging I could not follow the story any further online. Sincerely disappointed.
What I did find were reports, articles and blog posts on the topic of free-range eggs.
Living in Australia, one that stood out was the Choice Magazine review on free range eggs in Australia. I suggest you check it out for 1) education, 2) expanding your vocabulary, 3) being aware about the eggs you eat. Now I know this is an Australian report, yet it still provides some interesting information linking in USDA and other bodies that regulate, well at least attempt to regulate the industry.
Reading about the inconsistency in standards and the variation in freshness I decided to search more. I then stumbled across a very interesting app called "Shop Ethical" provided by the even more interesting organisation "Ethical Consumer Guide" . Going for help here I learned further that buying eggs is a challenging process if you want to be a conscious consumer.
These are just two examples of sources. There are many others online.
My shopping experience will now never be the same again. I am armed with the tools of the conscious consumer. Knowledge and awareness enables me to make a choice. Making a choice is how I am conscious. I do not judge. I choose to be as conscious as possible. I also acknowledge that the world is still a long way off from having a world as described by some of the reports above. Being part of the real world I am always aspiring to be the best conscious consumer I can be. Yet old habits, tastes, likes and preferences prevail. The eggs today taught me to try harder.
All this change in perspective simply because of some fancy marketing on a box of eggs.
Oh, and if you want to know, the taste of my gourmet egg scramble was top rate.
And please remember this blog is for fun. I acknowledge and refer you to the more serious reviews, commentary and discussions on the above topic!