Are You a Good Egg?

I’ve been thinking about eggs recently. Back when we lived in the hinterlands, we produced our own eggs. More accurately, our chickens produced the eggs that we snatched from them.  Since we’ve move back to the suburban wasteland, we can no longer keep chickens and have to buy eggs from the store.

What eggs should we buy? The options are, if not limitless, certainly broad. Do you buy the cheapest eggs at the cheapest store? Or do you go for something more exalted.

We can opt for brown eggs over white eggs. Brown eggs look like the ones that our flock on the farm laid, so they at least seem better. But of course, brown eggs raised in the same condition as the white eggs are exactly the same aside from their shell color. They may well have been fed a diet of drugs while residing in tiny cages with several of their closest friends, who may or may not be alive today.

Pay a little more and you can control for what you egg layers were fed: non-GMO feed, organic feed, vegetarian feed. You can also pay a premium for how the birds are raised: cage-free, free-range, or pasture raised.

What should the Christian buy? Should we be shamed into spending $50 a dozen for certified Kobe eggs, laid by hens who are paid a living wage and guaranteed to live out their natural lives in a national park? Should I feel bad if my eggs come from chickens that are not GMO-free? In mulling that, I’m reminded of something from Paul’s writing:

Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ. (Colossians  2:16-17)

Don’t let anyone judge you, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t judge for ourselves. I’d suggest judging on two criteria:

First, are you buying the best eggs you can buy? Eggs laid by chickens that go outside, that eat bugs, that clip blades of grass, and that live lives fairly close to how God designed them to live, are, not surprisingly, better tasting and more nutritious than the anemic, cage-produced eggs you can pick up for $.69 at Wal-Mart. The yolks are darker, and the taste is richer. Why would I eat substandard food?

Second, can you feel good about yourself knowing how the chickens who lay your eggs live? If a hen has to live in a tiny cage, given about ninety square inches in which to “range” so that I can buy cheaper eggs, I’d say that price is too high. For comparison, imagine spending your productive life in an airplane bathroom. Maybe you think that’s okay for the source of your omelet. I’m not supposed to judge you, but I can judge me.

In the end, I’d argue that way too much judging of others goes on while far too little self-reflection occurs. People will cluck at those who eat non-organic eggs, while others crow about the folly of spending money for something as nebulous as free-range. PETA types line up on one side while pro-business conservatives populate the other. Enough!

Notice that Paul doesn’t say that food and drink and days are not important. He just says that we shouldn’t let others judge us over them. That doesn’t release us to live in blissful ignorance.

My Kingdom for an Egg

Day-Old ChicksIt might be time to stock up on eggs. Of course, since they don’t have the greatest shelf life, maybe the time has come to cook up a bunch of eggs–maybe 10 or 12 dozen–and put them in the freezer for future use.

Why? It seems that a huge grocery chain in Texas has begun limiting purchases of eggs to three dozen per customer. This news, reported in the Washington Postevokes images of bread lines and ration books.

The news, as the grocer suggests, comes on the heels of what has been a devastating several months for egg farmers in the United States. Avian flu, which has proven lethal in other parts of the world, has spread throughout the United States like wildfire. Since April, when cases began spreading by the thousands each week, the virus has escalated to a point of national crisis.

While this information might not portend quite the level of dread that might accompany the apocalypse, it does point out just how fragile our food economy is. Should chicken and eggs rise dramatically in price, consider the ripples that would follow. More to the point, consider the impact such increases would have on your budget.

So stock up on those eggs soon. While you’re at it, fill your freezer with chicken. The food funds you save could be your own!

Egg-stra Healthy Eggs

Buff Orpington Hen--not one of oursAn article from the ever-helpful O Magazine, looks into the terms on egg packages, evaluating them for actual benefits. In this round-up, we discover that brown eggs are not inherently more beneficial than white ones. No real news there. What do they have to say about organic eggs? Are they “egg-stra healthy”?

Maybe. With these eggs, it’s possible you’ll minimize your potential exposure to synthetic pesticides and fertilizers that may be used in conventional chicken feed, says Michael K. Hansen, PhD, senior staff scientist at Consumers Union.

I’m not sure I want to pay a premium for a “Maybe.” What we learn here is that what goes into a food strongly influences what it will do for our bodies. Unfortunately, most of the time we eat eggs without the slightest notion of what the hens ate, where they lived, or how they pursued their life goals. (Just checking to see if you are awake.)

Ideally, we could all raise our own eggs. That’s one thing that I miss from living in the country.

One Word for All Time (Hebrews 1:2)

But in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:2)

There’s something about picking up eggs that delights me. In a few minutes, I’ll go outside and determine how many eggs my hens have left for me to collect today. I did the same chore yesterday and the day before. It doesn’t matter. When I look in the egg box, I marvel at the little brown oval of protein that the girls deposit.

Unlike the wonder of those eggs, some things lose their charm after time. As a demonstration, I would invite you to open a large bag of jelly beans. Those first few pieces of candy taste marvelous. Perhaps, like me, you keep eating them after the new has worn off, but eventually (and hopefully long before the bag is empty) you can’t stand the idea of placing another one in your mouth.

The speech represented in this verse, the speech of God delivered by Jesus, is not in the jelly bean category. Although the English versions of this verse present it in a past perfect form (has spoken) a more accurate rendering might say “has spoken once and for all.” That speech, spoken once, endures for all time with the same power and same appeal. It’s a bit like those eggs, which strike me as a wonder each and every day.

Muslims attempt to demote Jesus to the place of a prophet, a great prophet followed by Muhammad, a greater prophet. The reality, however, is quite different. Once the Word has been spoken–and it has been spoken–no further prophets are necessary, except those who, like the prophets of old, point to that enduring Word.