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Column: Basic egg far from simple, whether in myth or science


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Just got home from a trip to Cardinal Point Farms. We were running low on eggs, and I get a little nervous if we don’t have a few sitting in the fridge.

When I called Anne, I said I had heard somewhere that chickens don’t lay as much during cold times and wondered if she even had any to sell. She said the hens must have not gotten that memo because she had plenty. I cackled and said I’d be right over.

I like that Anne and Steve raise cage-free, organically fed chickens. Maybe it’s just me, but I believe the freedom and natural conditions the chickens enjoy make the eggs taste better. I do know that I once I cracked a Cardinal Farm egg in the same bowl as a store-bought one and asked my wife which was which. She easily noted the rich marigold color of the local, organic yolk from the rather pale yellow yolk of the other.

I also like that the farm is nearby, which means these eggs are more earth-friendly than those shipped in from faraway. I wouldn’t say I’m fanatical about it, but it seems like a good thing to try to lessen my environmental footprint when I have the choice.

Factor in the chemicals, fertilizers and water resources used to produce the things we consume, add the fuel used to ship it from here to there, and measure the effects these have on the environment, and something as simple as eating an egg suddenly becomes not so simple. Would it be a good idea to have some sort of chart that lists the true cost of the things we buy? Would people pay attention to such charts?

Thinking about the socioeconomic system of egg production is one complicated issue, but in the kitchen an egg can be a pretty simple thing. At its most basic, all you need is some boiling water and an egg, and you have a meal. Of course, you can get as complicated and souffléd as you dare, which is to me one more piece of evidence that eggs are a fundamental part of human existence. Egg dishes are a lot like people: They run the gamut from humble and quiet to lively and flamboyant.

For a few years I stopped eating eggs. Test results showed my cholesterol was higher than it should have been, and so I shunned eggs believing it to be a good way I could do something to lower it. At one time this was the accepted wisdom. More recent studies have been questioning the need to go completely eggless.

Eggs are a great source of protein and are rich in many other nutrients. As one who lives a mostly vegetarian lifestyle, getting good protein is an important consideration. The interesting thing is, both annual tests during these last two egg-eating years revealed my cholesterol — both the “good” and “bad” types — has been well within the acceptable range. Of course moderation is the key.

Around the world and across time, human cultures and civilizations have seen the egg as a symbol of creation. The Orphic Egg of Greek mythology hatched the god who created all the other gods. In the Chinese myth, when a deity broke out of the primordial egg, the top half of the shell became the sky while the bottom half became the earth.

Such stories are told to this day, with modern science postulating that billions of years ago the entire universe was compressed into a “gravitational singularity” — sometimes referred to as the “cosmic egg.”

For thousands of years we humans have been eating as well as telling stories about the simple and wondrous egg, and we continue to this day. Right now I’m thinking how a fluffy frittata would be just the thing for this cold winter evening.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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