Monday, February 15, 2010

The Perfect Food

Eggs. This is a post about eggs. I am obsessed, just a little, with eggs. I love cooking them, eating them, hatching them, but mostly eating them. I also like to learn how people around the world use eggs, in cooking and other things. I didn't know, for example, that goose eggs are prized for craft projects and creating amazing art eggs.I also love to learn about how other cultures perceive their food industry. Here in the U.S. we have a huge "Egg Board" which tells us how to store/cook/use eggs, since we apparently have lost all knowledge of the things. However, in other countries (where cleanliness of food supply seems to be a non-issue), the eggs are graded by size and packaged and that is about it. In Barcelona's Boqueria Market, the eggs at one stall are out for all to see (though not to touch!)

In Great Britain, eggs are out on the shelves in half dozen boxes mostly (I guess they go to market more often then do we?), and each egg has a little stamp like "organic" or "natural" or "British", something like that.

What I notice is that we Americans are totally and completely OBSESSED with egg refrigeration and egg shell cleanliness. We think that if the egg has been out of the 'fridge for more than ten minutes, it will instantly 'go bad' and kill us. The rest of the world, however, has a bit of common sense, and most don't refrigerate their eggs. I don't refrigerate my eggs, but I do keep them in a cool spot. Granted, they use them faster than we do, and they usually buy them at a small market, not a Mega-lo-mart. The average American egg in the store is about two weeks old, did you know that? When you think about all the washing and grading and sorting and shipping they have to do with 10,000 eggs a day, you can see that they might not be fresh from the chicken that day. Your farm-fresh, unwashed eggs will keep just fine on your refrigerator shelf for at least 8 weeks, probably longer (I am not a USDA rep, nor do I play on on TV, just saying).

Also, I am surprised that many people wash their eggs before they use them. Why? Are they covered in chicken poop or encrusted with something nasty? I don't understand the need to wash something that I don't even let touch my food. I crack the egg, part the shell and let the inside fall into a bowl. I also crack each egg into a small bowl before adding it to my recipe. That is common sense I learned from my mother. Eggs are a natural product, so you might run into one that has gone bad or has a blood spot or something. You break each egg into the little bowl first so the one bad egg doesn't ruin the batch. Get it? "One bad egg..."?

The only time I wash my eggs is if they do have dirt or poop on them (chickens and ducks will get muddy) and only right before I use them. Eggs have a natural coating on them from the hen, called 'the bloom' that protects and seals them from outside dirt and keeps them fresh for weeks. Washing the eggs can actually force dirt particles into the egg and cause bad bacteria to form, so if you wash, do so gently. The Big Egg Industry washes all their lovely white and brown eggs because they know Consumers don't like dirty things (then they coat them with food-grade mineral oil to replace the natural "bloom" from the chicken). They taught us that "Dirt is Bad!", but really dirt isn't 'bad', but the stuff that gets into the dirt can be bad for us. Eating a bit of dirt once in awhile is good for the immune system. It's eating poop and dead growing bacteria that is bad for us. You won't find any of that in our eggs because our chickens and ducks run around and forage, which builds their immune systems, and they aren't under stress when they lay eggs, so the eggs are pristine on the inside and out, until someone poops near it or steps on it or it rolls into the mud. But the amazing thing is that the perfect egg with its natural bloom protecting it is still totally pristine inside! That is so the future chick has a better chance of surviving. Battery/caged/confined hens are under great stress, so sometimes their egg laying channel gets clogged with poop, which can get pulled up into the egg stream and get inside the egg before it is laid. Yuck!

We use clean, recycled egg cartons when we sell our eggs. Last month I got two cartons that had "Disney Eggs" on them. I was stunned! When did Disney start into the egg business? Where are their farms? Are the eggs pastel colors like Americaunas lay?

After a closer inspection, it seems that Disney is shilling for Eggland's Best Eggs. I guess more moms will buy eggs if they have your Disney "Pals" stamped onto the egg. I have no idea what these sell for, but I'm sure they are expensive, and not much different than all the other eggs. Sheesh.

Probably more later on eggs...

1 comment:

  1. Ours are always dirty and when I give them away, I explain that it's a "bonus"!