The fact that my loving husband decided to raise chickens for eggs is a bit ironic for people who have known me for a very long time. You see, until just recently, I would not eat eggs. Sure, you could put eggs in a cake or cook with them in something, But, no omelet for me, thank you. Hard boiled eggs? Ick. Fried, scrambled, how ever prepared – I would not eat them.
Growing up in Iowa with a grandpa who owned a farm, I always was acutely aware of where my food came from. I understood that the chicks he got in the spring would make their guest appearance during the fried chicken meal later that fall/winter. Those pigs he raised – they made great bacon & sausages & pork chops. He usually kept a few cows around for beef. And, no one ever had to explain the milking process to me – we were dragged to the milk barn by my uncle when we were young. (He was always trying to teach the “city kids” how to help.) And, I know what fresh milk tastes like too. Overall, I know what goes into the raising of our meat supply. I get all of that.
But, it wasn’t until I was a sophomore in high school taking biology when I found something that didn’t sit well with me. We were studying reproduction and development of the embryo when it happened. Our biology teacher Mr W loved this part of biology. In fact, when we got to human development, I swear we watched more birthing videos than I ever did when I was pregnant taking child birth classes. (At one point we started wondering when he would bring out the birthing videos from his kids’ births. He never did, thank God!)
Anyway, he decided: we live in Iowa, our town was near the local “egg factory”, so he contacted them for eggs….fertilized eggs at various stages of development. And, we dissected them in class.
There was already something a bit unnerving about aborting chicken fetuses especially the ones that were very near hatching. I mean, having him take them from the incubator and hand them to use for dissection – it was a bit odd. But, for those of use who were assigned the eggs at the start of the development cycle, it was even more unnerving.
I’ve never been skitterish about dissection. Up until this point, I had dissected cows lungs, cow hearts, frogs, worms, crayfish, and countless other animals in the name of biology. But, opening up that egg – an egg that looked just like the eggs we eat & seeing the beating heart…..that did me in. No more eating eggs for me. I could eat them in things – but I didn’t want to see the yoke and white. No way.
I made this decision at 15 years old….. and didn’t eat an egg until I ate an omelet on a whim about a year ago. Yes, this little thing lasted 20 years. But about a year ago, I wanted an omelet. No idea why – just out of the blue, it sounded good to me. So, I ordered one at our friend’s family restaurant (and promptly watched Garbanzo fall off of his chair.) And, I ate it – and liked it.
Maybe it was some of my mom’s explanation that made me realize why eating the eggs we buy at the store is not like eating farm fresh eggs from when she was growing up….or like those eggs we dissected. (She was in charge of eggs when she was growing up on the farm, so knows a lot about the process, etc.) Who knows. I understand completely the people who were vegetarians for 20 years who wake up one day and decide to eat meat again. It isn’t that they grew out of their phase, but their thinking changed – I guess.
We’ll see how I do when we are inundated with eggs. Both of the remaining chickens will lay between 240-260 eggs per year per chicken. That’s a LOT of eggs. As for right now, I’m enjoying an occasional scrambled egg or fried egg or omelet. And, I am remembering how much I loved eating eggs before that fateful day sophomore year of high school.
For now, I enjoy shocking the hell out of long time friends and family when they see me eat eggs again. Their reactions have been priceless, so I guess I have that.