You can believe the hype. Last week, a boutique grocery on Manhattan’s Upper East Side was selling eggs for $17.99 a dozen. They weren’t Faberge eggs, dripping in diamonds and gilt. They were ordinary chicken-hatched, single-yolk, large “organic” eggs.
This news flash is courtesy of The Guardian newspaper in England, which loves to point out the crass and the crazy in American culture. It is given to gloating through stiff upper lips. Still, it has a point.
Egg prices are heating up due to inflation, a surging avian flu epidemic and, some say, price gouging. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one year ago you could buy a dozen eggs for $1.72. Now, nationwide, the price averages $3.59. In some states like California, the average price is more than $7. Apparently in Manhattan, consumers have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. No more cheap, go-to weekday omelet dinners.
The current epidemic of avian flu is the worst in history, according to NBC News. More than 53 million birds have died of the virus or been put to death. As so-far survivors of the coronavirus pandemic, we must wonder how vulnerable we humans are to this flu.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we’re probably safe. That’s not totally reassuring, but the avian flu has jumped to humans in only rare instances, and has passed from an infected person to other people in only extremely rare cases. Those who’ve contracted the flu after working around infected birds generally experienced mild symptoms, but the disease has been serious in a few people.
Somehow, I want to believe human beings should be OK, but after the waves of half-information and misinformation informing our health decisions in the midst of Covid, I want to keep an eye on this H5N1 virus. Even though it might seem cost-effective now to start raising chickens in our backyards, nah, it’s probably not a good idea.
Last week it was widely reported that dealers have been running eggs out of Mexico to the U.S. I don’t know if it’s a Sinaloa cartel operation, but really? Smugglers in competition with the Easter Bunny?
I take my eggs very seriously. Omelets are a regular dinner in my home. I eat an egg every single day, over well, yolk broken. Lillybee the dog gets half a yolk.
I had to give up eggs recently and temporarily (for a month) after my friend cracked an egg and discovered a tiny, blackened mini-chicken inside. So gross! I didn’t actually see the monstrosity, but I can’t get the image out of my head. She was so traumatized by the visitation that she gave up eggs forever.
We move on. The most expensive egg product I ever purchased was a painted $25 ostrich eggshell I brought back from South Africa to present to my granddaughter on her 13th birthday. I was feeling quite high-minded about the symbolism of feminism and new beginnings and eternal life. But she sat on it, and that was that.
Two weeks ago, I cracked an egg and discovered it was a double yolker. According to Cackle Hatchery, double yolks are quite rare. They hardly ever result in two chickens being born, because the eggshell can’t accommodate twins. Still, they are prized for eating. Some boutique chicken farmers specialize in double yolkers, the source of which is a genetic mutation. You can hold a candle to an egg and see what’s inside if you really need to know. If you really want to know.
Hardboiled eggs are worth a book of their own. I always have a few hard-cooked eggs in my fridge, you know, in case of nuclear attack or tornado strike. I read about an 83-year-old hiker years ago who hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, from Georgia to Maine, eating hardboiled eggs he cooked on a tiny camping stove.
In the 1967 movie “Cool Hand Luke,” an outrageously defiant prisoner played by Paul Newman choked down 50 hard-boiled eggs on a dare. A few people in real life tried to imitate the feat, and one died. But Joey Chestnut, the renowned competitive eater, consumed 141 eggs in eight minutes in a contest. Miki Sudo broke the women’s world record, eating 104 eggs.
Chestnut, who, remarkably, is still alive — I checked — took home a $1,500 grand prize, which seems not nearly enough.
Copyright 2023 Randi Kreiss. Randi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.