I have no qualms about admitting that I like eating eggs. I think they are nutritious, delicious, and incredibly versatile. From a chemistry standpoint, they’re pretty amazing too, and I love that they are a whole food—a tidy little package of whole food that can be held in the palm of your hand.
And yet. I know I’m not alone in my horror when I hear about the debeakings of newborn chicks, the crowded cages stuffed so full of chickens that they can barely move, the way that waste from animals in the top cage rows just falls on top of the animals on lower rows. Of course I’ve read The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and I know that in theory, chickens could be allowed to live differently. They could be allowed to wander around in the grass, pecking for worms, flapping their wings, enjoying the sunshine on their little feathered bodies. I know we don’t have to torture chickens in order to eat their eggs (and yes, eat their bodies, though I have no desire to do that). But when I buy eggs at the store, I buy them on faith. The carton says things like “free-range,” “cage-free,” “vegetarian-fed,” but who knows if these claims are accurate? (I’m also not sure about vegetarian-fed hens. Shouldn’t those hens be eating worms? Worms are not vegetables.)
I would hope, for the cost of my fancy eggs, that the hens from which these eggs come are being treated well because those eggs are damn expensive, upwards of $5-6 per dozen. I’m willing to pay that price, but I’d better be getting what I think I’m getting! And yet, how do I know? I don’t, and that’s the troubling reality of eating eggs.
I’ve been thinking about how I’m going to live without eggs for a month. I don’t think it will be too hard. For example:
* Instead of scrambled eggs, I can make scrambled tofu or a chickpea salad. I tend to make scrambled eggs when I’m tired and hungry and I’ve worked all day. So I just need to stock my fridge and pantry with some good ingredients for quick dinners that will fill the scrambled egg niche.
* Instead of eggs in baking, I can use flax eggs, which I love. I also think I should experiment with some applesauce or “bananasauce” (mashed banana) substitutions. Easy peasy—just keep applesauce in the cupboard and some frozen bananas in the freezer. Frozen banana thaws pretty quickly, too, so you can bake more or less on a whim with it, especially if you chop the banana up while it is still frozen.