this morning i had a few things to do but weary for no particular reason i lingered in my covers reading Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. and that is how i came to buy the most expensive eggs of my life.

the premise of the book is that the american “culture” of industrialized agriculture is unhealthy on every front…for animals, humans, and the environment alike. he spends chapters explaining in pretty readable detail the different ways the food industry is doing a disservice to us all.

feeling smug in an organic supermarket…he pulls back the covers on that. what about those vegetarians and vegans out there…not nearly as morally superior as they appear at face value. his point is that the natural food chain is a complex and diverse force that doesn’t just feed us…it feeds everything from bacteria and ruminants to cows and people.

what does that have to do with expensive eggs?

the further i go into the book the more uncomfortable i am with available foods. i’ve always had a certain intangible disdain for organic (circa whole foods stores) and reading pollan made my feelings a little more tangible. even so, for the first two-thirds of the book i felt helpless. in the face of all this damage where could i shop, what could i eat that wasn’t damaging me and the space i inhabit?

right now i’m resting on chickens. of all the animals mistreated in our current system – and trust me all of them are!- he singles out laying hens…even beyond cows lying about in their own fecal matter and pigs chewing on the tails of the pig in front of them. laying hens are crowded 6 to a tiny pen where they are unable to even spread their wings. often their beaks are clipped to prevent them from pecking each other to death as they are prone to do. and, distressed as they are in this little slice of hell, they rub themselves against their wire cages until they lose all their feathers and bleed their breasts there against the metal. that doesn’t even touch what happens as they near death…

so i sound like an animal enthusiast at this point. i sound like someone who doesn’t believe in the natural order of things where some animals are predators and others prey…only that’s not it at all. i love my steak and chicken and boy do i love bacon…but i don’t believe that my dinner has to suffer in order to be my meal. death is a part of life, it is how all animals gain sustenance whether it is the death of a plant or an animal…even so, i don’t believe a chicken should have to endure a lifetime of misery so that i can have an omelet or fried rice.

so, today, i stopped at the farmers market and with measured consciousness…asked the guy selling eggs just how free range his chickens are. do they have access to a door to outside that they never actually use? no, they live outside in the grass…eating grubs and flapping their wings as chickens are wont to do.

so i sucked it up and paid the $2 for six eggs. and then i went to and started researching ways to make sure my meat sources are allowed the same basics of life. it’s an expensive peace of mind but…if tomorrow i get eaten by a rouge tiger (which isn’t that far fetched here in the bay) at least i will have had the freedom of eating what i want to eat and being left to my own devices…why can’t a chicken have the same?

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