Franken-food? Eggs from Euthanized Chickens

Reading the NY Times today reveals an interesting juxtaposition: the harvesting of “immature eggs” and another piece on the breeding of dogs entitled the Kennel Conundrum.

Eggs harvested from euthanized hens “tough old birds too old for laying” were labeled as “embryonic” on an upscale (you’ve all heard of them!) menu. They had to be re-labeled as “immature” in order to make it more palatable to customers. Now chefs have begun injecting them with an additional yolk to invent a dish more suitable to their pushing-the-envelope reputation.

When these mad-scientist machinations resemble so closely the bizarre world of designer dog breeding techniques it just strikes me as – well – wrong.

If you read these two pieces, or even skim them…you may understand why my insides are churning just about now.

I’m still having trouble with the notion of Ortolon. Described recently in a thought-provoking piece, the banned ritual of eating a whole, endangered songbird, drowned in cognac, is something like earning top merit badge among chefs and gourmets. When you start invoking accoutrements such as hooded garments to capture all the scent of the fleeting moment…of eating an endangered bird, it’s just such an outlier on the spectrum of “would you ever?…” that it makes even a jaded glutton like me stop and think.

Here’s where I end up, I think:
1. No eggs from dying chickens, no manipulated double yolks in these embryonic eggs from downer hens, no thanks.
2. No breeding dogs so that they can’t even breed without a human’s help, anymore. Thanks to the humans who already helped the breed achieve its velvet-paint-by-number heartwarming look, scores of other problems arise in the name of our bizarre aesthetics. But dogs ought to be able to do what dogs like to do without our intervention. Period.
3. Probably no eating of endangered species, just for the thrill of it, even if it is thrilling and delicious.

Can we adopt a sort of Hippocratic food oath? “First, do no harm.” If we start there, I’m sure Michael Pollan et al. will fill in the rest.

While we’re at this intersection of commercial operations and food, don’t forget to check out the Rolling Stone expose on Smithfield Foods’ industrial pork operations and environmental abuses. It will drive you to be a vegetarian or at least to swear off commercial, industrial pork.

I recommend Lobel’s, Benton’s Hams (the bacon is superlative!) and locally in Boston, The Butcher Shop, of course. Happy pigs make happier diners and neighbors.

~ by jacqueline1230 on February 7, 2007.

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