I’ve just read Mike Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma. Eye-roll. Will I ever eat again?
Eggs and chicken are mainstays of my diet. But Pollan has lifted the curtain for me on the often shocking truths behind industrially raised chickens. They’re jammed into spaces so small, the poor animals try to peck each other to death. The answer, according to chicken producers? Off with their beaks.
Their cages are raised above the ground. Feces falls through the grates and languishes on the floor. Ammonia inside a chicken shed smells so strong it burns the eyes, Pollan says. Antibiotics are necessary to keep the animals in good health.
Industrially raised organic chickens don’t fare that much better, according to Pollan. Producers provide chickens with a small door that leads outside, into a square metre of fenced grass. However, the birds aren’t allowed to access the door until they are nearly grown. So they don’t know what that door is for. Even those who do make their way outside only get to enjoy fresh air for a couple of weeks. That’s when they reach their market weight and are killed.
Michael says if we’re going to eat meat, we should know where the meat comes from. Be on a first-name basis with the farmer… look him in the eye. Ask questions about how the animals live and how they die. This educated approach… It’s not just good for the animals. It’s better for our own health too, he thinks.
Even Whole Foods can not be trusted to deliver what they claim. For economic reasons of scale, they employ industrial distribution systems, by-passing the small local producers.
True, local farm-raised animal products cost more. But if you factor in the environmental and health costs of animals raised like industrial commodities, local food is not any more expensive. And perhaps paying more for wholesome food will encourage me to reduce my portion sizes, helping me maintain my weight?
Once a year, anyway, I know I’ll be springing for local fresh eggs. I use these to make my annual yule-tide eggnog. Once you whip up a batch of nog from fresh eggs, there is no going back. Choose and crack your eggs carefully to avoid dangers associated with eating uncooked eggs.
Why you shouldn’t fear eggnog
Popular Science tells us that the alcohol and sugar in traditional nog recipes create an unhappy environment for egg-borne bugs. Click the link here to be reassured. I drink home-made eggnog and serve it to my family. We all survive. Regardless, prudence tells me I have to post a disclaimer.
Teetotalers should stop reading right about now. Those with aversions to calories and sugar: look away. Pregnant mamas, babies, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems take note: This is not the recipe for you. And I should also remind readers that the CDC, the Food and Drug Administration, and the National Institutes of Health do not recommend consuming raw eggs.
Yule-time eggnog, the Norwegian way
Choose fresh clean eggs that are undamaged, crack them open carefully, then enjoy!
Serves 16-20 (about 10 cups)
• 8 egg yolks
• 1/2 pound confectioners (icing) sugar*
• 1 cup rum (I use spiced, dark rum… add more if you like it stronger)
• 1 quart 10% cream plus 1 cup whipping cream
• 1/3 – ½ cup peach brandy
• 8 egg whites (if using fresh eggs)
*I used 1 cup icing sugar plus enough stevia to provide the sweetness of 1/4 cup sugar… but I will experiment with less sugar and more stevia next time.
- Buy eggs from a local farmer who raises chickens that forage in his farmyard. Choose 8 fresh eggs that are clean and free from damage. Crack them carefully, one at a time, over a saucer. Then transfer the yolks to a medium mixing bowl and the whites to a small bowl for refrigeration.
- With a hand mixer, beat the yolks until they are light and lemony in color.
- Beat the icing sugar into the yolks gradually.
- Add the rum very slowly, beating constantly. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for 1 hour to “cure.” My mother told me the booze and sugar kill any germs that may have accidentally made their way into the drink. Popular Science agrees.
- Stir in the cream and the peach brandy. Taste the brew and add another 1/4 cup rum if you think it needs more. Refrigerate at least three hours. I found one recipe where they refrigerated it for three weeks! It seems the longer you keep it, the more opportunity for the alcohol to kill off any unwanted wild life. So be unafraid. Me and my family have been drinking this stuff for more than 75 years all told, with no ill affects.
- If you are serving your nog that day, just before serving whip up the whites with a hand mixer until they form soft peaks. Fold them in gently. If you intend to save the nog for longer than a day, fold the whipped whites into the mix immediately, cover the container and store in the fridge.
- To serve, spoon into crystal glasses and top with freshly grated nutmeg.
How to cook eggs for raw-egg recipes – If you eggnog for the kiddies, you won’t be using raw eggs… or alcohol. Check out this link for how to cook eggs used in raw-egg recipes.