Photo by Audrey Pavia
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but the first time I was faced with eating eggs from my own backyard chickens, I felt squeamish. Like most city people, I was used to my eggs coming from a carton bought at a grocery store. Suddenly, the thought of eating an egg that came out of a bird that was running around my backyard was creepy.
The absurdity of this notion wasn’t lost on me. Where did I think supermarket eggs came from? Were they produced by some machine that plopped them down fully formed into Styrofoam cartons? Intellectually, I knew they came from chickens—unhappy ones kept in filthy cages and forced to live out their lives confined and unnaturally—but somehow my brain never really made the association between an actual chicken and the egg I was eating. It was easy to block it out because I never actually had to see the chickens.
So when Randy first scrambled up a bunch of eggs from our hens a couple of years ago, I was almost afraid to eat them. I had visions of my hens squeezing out these eggs in the nest box in the coop, and then thought about what would have happened had I not taken the eggs away. In 21 days, little baby chicks would have come out of those eggs. So how could I possibly sit down and eat this stuff without feeling weird?
It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally gotten over this silliness—completely. I realized this on Sunday morning when I decided to make myself an omelet. I hadn’t made an omelets for years, certainly not since we had our own chickens.
As I cracked open eight of the tiny bantam eggs I had stored in the refrigerator, I didn’t think about how they would have turned into baby birds if I hadn’t taken them away from the hens. I didn’t feel strange seeing the bright yellow yokes, so different in color from the eggs I’d buy in the grocery store. And I didn’t feel funny as I stirred the yolks together to make a batter that would go into the warming butter-laden frying pan.
But the real test of my urban-farmer maturity came at the moment of eating the omelets. I’d put soft, creamy cheese inside and sliced up an avocado as garnish. As I took that first bite, instead of feeling creeped out at the idea of my hens having laid these eggs, I thought about all the good stuff that went into creating this amazing item of food: organic poultry feed, organic fruit, flax seed—all healthy things my hens dine on as they happily roam about the yard, scratching for food, taking luxurious dust baths and comingling with the roosters who dutifully care for them.
Needless to say, by the time I had finished my meal, I realized I had just eaten the best omelets I’d ever had.