Eggs Across America

Went to Costco yesterday because we needed some food items.  Costco is probably not so familiar to east coast people.  It’s a kind of food warehouse.  It looks like a warehouse and businesses come in before regular people hours and buy wholesale.  Everything comes in huge quantities—I think here of the food stuff.  Once I forgot to buy that little box of salt with the umbrella lady and rather than go back to the regular store I bought five pounds of salt at Costco for a few cents more than the umbrella lady salt.  I had salt up the wazoo; it put it in bottles and stuck it in the pantry.





So I bought some eggs for around three dollars and was informed at the counter that it was a two pack, not 18 eggs for three dollars, but 36 eggs.  They asked did I want the other pack of 18.  I said skip it.  I had plenty of eggs, but they acted like I was breaking store policy or something, so the lady went back and got me 18 more eggs.  On Sunday I went to the farmer’s market in the Costco shopping center and got 12 eggs for about three dollars.  These were brown eggs though.

As you can see from the pictures, the white Costco eggs look almost identical.  Indeed, all 36 eggs look as if they were perhaps deposited by the same chicken.  Or maybe by clones of the same chicken.  The brown eggs though are various.  One is bigger than the other and browner too.  There was even a bigger egg than that one but I ate it.  So the brown eggs are much more irregular and appear to come from different chickens or maybe the same chicken on a good day or a bad day.

When I was teaching a research paper class on what I called “Eating in America,” I began to realize how distant and detached we are from the sources of our food.  Take hamburger for example.  It comes all neatly packaged in a square box.  What the hell is the relation of that to a cow?  Or let’s say, that neat package makes it easy to forget that it came from a cow.  The irregular brown eggs tend to remind one of chickens.  The regular white ones could have been produced in some programmed egg factory.

Many of my students—I have polled them over the years—have never seen a live chicken, except maybe in a zoo, and they are not sure if that was a chicken or not.  But they remember having seen something chicken like.  I have seen chickens in the flesh.  I have stepped with bare feet in warm chicken poop that lets off quite a stick as it oozes between the toes.  I have taken eggs out of the nest still warm from the chicken sitting on them.

It’s odd to think how we have become so distant from our food.  Indeed sometimes we are very distant from it.  Some experts say the average piece of food travels about 1500 miles to get to your mouth.  These figures are probably a little distorted since Americans are eating more and more food from all around the world.  Take coffee, as an instance.  Experts are concerned about such things because of all the energy required to transport the stuff and in most cases to refrigerate it while in transit.

There’s a little Utube graphics show about this at.

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