Guest blog by Hoodathunk
Yesterday we had a brunchfast that relied pretty heavily on the magical chicken egg. Poached eggs for the wee’uns, Crab Benedict for the more discerning palette and eggnog; so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that I awoke at 4 am thinking about the dream I had about eggs. Odd things my subconscious plays with in dreamland.
Consider your basic egg. Nicely packaged, a comfortable incubator (at least for the mom) bringing forth a new generation of bird that can produce more eggs, be edible in its adult form, or provide hours of entertainment and appreciation with their songs or beauty. All in all, the egg is a wondrous thing. But I had never looked at it as an expression of society in an eggshell.
Man learned early on that the insides of your basic egg were both edible and nutritious in its natural state. Then, when Ug learned about fire, it was discovered eggs could be cooked. I suspect one was accidentally dropped on a hot rock and sunny side up was born. Since then, eggs have become something of a staple in most societies. And, as societies become more civilized, so does their treatment of the egg. No more of this lop off the egg and slurp it down, no that will make you sick; the cholesterol, also a bad thing.
This is where civilized society comes in. How many have gone to fry up an egg and tossed it because the yolk got broken in the process? Or boiled and decorated eggs at Easter and ended up tossing some when they got too old? Eggs are pretty cheap so it isn’t a really big deal — unless you happen to be starving. But we have, for the most part, gone beyond that point. We take eggs for granted because there are literally millions, if not billions, of chickens out there just a clucking and a dumping. We just go merrily along quiche-ing, custard-ing, caking, dressing up our lives with the hard work of hens because it isn’t like they mind being kept in cramped, unsanitary quarters, living on chicken feed so we can use the efforts of their labor to pamper ourselves.
This is juxtaposed to a memory from my childhood. We would go to the grandparents’ farm on weekends and help out. This was done so we could get a few good meals while providing my Mom’s parents with much needed assistance in running the farm. One of my jobs was tending the chicken coop. I had to collect the eggs, then feed the feathered beasts, and then clean the nests. I was not allowed to carry the basket of eggs to the house because dropping an egg was something of a minor catastrophe. The dog liked it but it meant a smaller helping of scrambled eggs for me. Each and every one of those ovoids were important, just as the chickens themselves were. Not exactly life or death but they could spell the difference between going to bed with a full tummy or a growling one.
What our civilized society is doing, both on the microcosm and macrocosm level, is that we aren’t taking care of the chickens. We are gobbling up the eggs, while wasting a great many of them, thinking there will always be more. We are distancing ourselves from the very things that have brought us to this point. Our greed blinds us to the workings of nature because we think it will always be there, and if we have this magical paper in our pockets, everything will be fine.
Work in a chicken coop? Ewwwww, gross!