I know it’s hard to imagine, but I don’t miss the straight-up scrambled, hard boiled, or poached eggs I used to eat (especially the seemingly always-runny plate when I ordered “well done”). I do miss — and so occasionally indulge in — bread pudding or other desserts made with eggs. My fridge is probably egg-free 90% of the time. But when I do procure a few eggs for family or friends, I try to get them from a friend with chickens (best) or buy organic.
I gave up dairy for dietary and health reasons, but have become increasingly concerned about the ethics of food production, including the treatment of animals. When you buy and consume industrially-produced meat and dairy products, you are supporting an unhealthy (antibiotics, hormones, and possible infections such as e coli and salmonella) as well as cruel (overcrowding, no fresh air, throwing away live male chicks, clipping tails and beaks, etc.) business. So, on all levels, regardless of what you choose to eat, it’s just best to buy organic and local when possible!
But you only eat “free-range” or “cage-free” eggs, so that’s safe and healthy, right? Nope. Actually, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has no definitions for cage-free or free-range (as in, I could keep chickens in my car and call them free-range — a bad idea on oh-so-many levels). . . and the CDC estimates that for every reported case of salmonella poisoning there are actually 38 unreported incidents. Why risk it?
“Organic and pasture-raised” – this is what you should look for on your labels. My family likes an occasional scrambled egg or french toast, and we have company this week, so I just paid seven dollars here in Kona for a carton of such eggs a few days ago. Ouch. But I’m willing to walk by my favorite lotion and vegan scones to buy organic. (Okay, I’m being dramatic to make a point. You know I walked right back over to the scones.) Did you know that at Whole Foods you can actually get a bio of the hens who laid your eggs – and a signed egg shell for $9.95 (I’m totally serious about the bio!). I’m not sure we need to take it this far, but I’m passionate about supporting humane practices at every level of the food chain, whatever we decide to eat.
Speaking of, my other “beef” today has to do with militant definitions of being vegan or vegetarian or herbivore or paleo or clownivore. . . “If you’re a committed vegan, you don’t eat eggs. Ever.” Well, okay, if you haven’t ingested one calorie of animal-derived protein for 999 days and 7 hours, that’s awesome — and I love being part of a community of like-minded and like-eating peeps — but this attitude doesn’t do animals or our food system any favors, and it certainly doesn’t win vegans any friends. Rather, it may perpetuate an image of vegans as condescending and disdainful, when what we all need to do is encourage our circles to consume sustainably, responsibly, and compassionately.
The basic problem, as I see it — and this applies to our entire food supply, not just eggs — is that most Americans are more interested in cheap food over quality food. We have got to demand healthier food across the spectrum. Now go out there and make your bad self a tempeh scramble. . . yummmmmy! 🙂
1 lb tempeh, cubed
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried thyme or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt
fresh black pepper
4 large leaves swiss chard, torn into pieces (or any leafy green)
1. Preheat a large, heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Saute the tempeh in 2 tablespoons olive oil for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Add greens and saute until just wilted. Serve immediately.