On Loving Eggs
I have the best intentions when buying eggs. I've seen videos and read articles about factory farmed chickens and the awful life they lead to produce eggs in an attempt to keep up with consumer demand and keep prices down. It horrifies me. I want to make the right choice and only buy eggs that I know come from happy chickens who lead a good life, and I am happy to pay extra for these eggs. The trouble is, it can be so difficult to know what eggs are the most humane choice. Words like "free-range" and "cage-free" and "organic" are thrown around leaving consumers very confused and frustrated. There needs to be more transparency in the industry and better standards, most definitely. But we as consumers do have some power here, we just need to educate ourselves and not reach for factory-farmed eggs out of convenience.
So where do we start? If you're lucky or have the inclination, you can find a farm near you and visit. Or you might meet with a farmer selling their eggs at your local market market and have a chat. Find out about their practices and find a farm or brand you're happy with. Support them, even though it may cost a few dollars more. It's worth it, so worth it.
You can also refuse to support factory farming and spend thirty minutes educating and empowering yourself by reading these next few links. Visit Humane Choice and Animal Welfare Labels for more information on the best products and download a great consumer guide to choosing eggs. And look for products that have the Humane Choice accreditation.
I do really love eggs, you see. I live and grew up in an area where it's normal for people to have a backyard full of roaming chickens. And I've long enjoyed the benefits of this, with ready access to fresh, free-range eggs. Moving to the city to attend University when I was 18 really allowed me to see how confusing it is when shopping for eggs at the Supermarket. As a poor student living on rice and legumes and meals from my mum, I no doubt bought the least expensive option available and learnt that cheap, unhappy eggs produced in terrible conditions taste really bad and...sad. They didn't even resembled the eggs I grew up with, their bright orange yolks and a rich, creamy taste and texture. When living at home I would grunt in moody teenage angst when having to wash poo or feathers off our fresh eggs. I soon realised it was a privilege. In fact I count fresh, free-range eggs from happy hens to be one of life's truest joys and truest privledges. At our current home we have room for some chickens of our own, and I'm keenly trying to figure out the best and safest way to make this a reality. For now, I'm once again enjoying egg deliveries from my mum and dad's hens.
Lately I've found a new love - duck eggs. Mum's friend provides us with a good price for these porcelain parcels, and I've had the most lovely time seeing what they can do. They're different from chook eggs, for sure, almost prehistoric in their gigantic, gloopy glory. I favour the flavour of chicken eggs for boiling, poaching and scrambling, so I save my duck eggs for one special purpose where I can celebrate their fat yolky goodness...ice-cream. Oh, duck egg yolks make the most glorious ice-cream. So rich and smooth and gentle and creamy. So creamy.
And now I'm completely and utterly ruined. Store bought ice-creams do nothing for me, even the good brands. *sigh* I suppose I'll just have to keep close to my duck friends. Though having said that, you can simply add an extra chicken egg yolk into the mix to make super lovely ice-cream out of chicken eggs. The real key is, of course, using happy eggs from happy birds, whether chickens or ducks. That is really loving eggs.