If You Eat Eggs, Blame Freud

Backyard Poultry is not a magazine I would subscribe to.  And I didn’t.  But I receive it bi-monthly since it came as a gift from a friend who knows my fantasy of one day living the kind of life where I would subscribe to Backyard Poultry.

Today, I  have neither a backyard, a frontyard, nor am in any position to be raising fowl – I live in a 950 sq ft apartment in New York City – but that still doesn’t mean that I don’t want to learn how to make “Herbal Mash for Sick Chickens” (page 48).

I love eggs. I love how organized they are. I love how they sit, cupped in their cardboard nests. Waiting. I crack one open each morning*, anticipate the drop of the yellow globe, whisk it, heat it, nudge it from the pan, taste its eggy richness and know I will never go back to bagels.

But “we” (meaning our ancestors) were not always into eggs.  In the early 1900′s people ate a light breakfast of toast, juice and coffee. Not bacon and eggs.  Which is why the Beachnut Packing Company (which sold bacon) was desperate to increase sales.  So they hired Freud’s nephew – a PR guy who had learned from his Uncle that if you can tap into subconscious drives, humans can be convinced to do just about anything. He got a bunch of doctors to state that, yes, a hearty breakfast, in fact, is better than a light one. He then created a campaign that tapped into humans intrinsic desire for physical preservation and linked healthy eating to this desire. (We now call this “spin”.) He specifically mentioned bacon and eggs (his pick, not the doctors) as the breakfast of choice and ta da! – the quintessential American meal, now served at every greasy roadside diner, was born.**

Another event that expanded demand, was the declassifying of eggs as an agent of heart disease.  The three-per-week quota was “lifted” and we were free to crack away.  (It’s now largely agreed among the medical community that food containing cholesterol does not have a significant impact on the cholesterol level of most healthy individuals.)

Atkins later jumped on the trend, getting a little carried away, but amplifying the message that not only were eggs not bad for for us, but weight loss could only happen with massive consumption of eggs!(And sausage and butter and steak and cheese…)

So with our voracious appetite for eggs established***, the battle by brands to influence which egg to buy, was on.  (See Part II: Decoding the egg label.)

None of this, though, explains my obsession with chickens… That, I believe, is an issue for Freud himself.

Have your egg habits changed?

Related Posts
Freud and The Egg: Part II
You Put An Apple Where? (Why eggs and apples make great bed fellows)

* Get an outstanding omelet recipe
** The nephew’s name is Edward Bernays, who was a pioneer in marketing and PR.  Listen to his story on NPR. His Wikipedia entry is here.
*** See “Wake me for breakfast”


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  • http://www.kissesforbreakfast.com Emily Elizabeth @ Kisses for Breakfast

    That is very interesting how bacon and eggs came about! I wonder if he had decided collard greens instead if we would be eating that? I recently stopped eating eggs all together in an effort to determine what is giving me digestive trouble. I’m eating a vegan diet without nuts or gluten (I’m a celiac). You wouldn’t think there would be much left to eat… but it’s actually pretty easy to do and has gotten me to branch out and try new foods. :)

    • jenny

      how apropos… hi emily, just found myself going through some digestive turbulence myself which lead me to take an ALCAT blood test for allergies/intolerances as per my nutritionist’s advice. shes also my mom. she also has me at least momentarily on a low FODMAP diet:
      http://ibs.about.com/b/2010/10/20/low-fodmap-diet-for-ibs.htm
      i will let you know how this all goes… may be worth a try?

      as for eggs, i love them too. particularly the farm fresh kind. it is amazing as to how BIG a difference it makes.
      the eggs from stone barns, feather ridge farm, and my friend bonnies farm in vt (earth sky time) are my favs.

      cant wait for part deux.

    • jenny

      also… any tips on “good” gluten free bread? i am on a hunt to try to find them baked fresh in nyc.

    • Jill

      If you are suffering from digestive issues, I would urge you to give up the vegan and try Paleo. At least look into Robb Wolf’s book, The Paleo Solution, which explains why a vegan/vegetarian diet could contribute to digestive issues. http://www.robbwolf.com
      Paleo eating has changed my life. Good luck!

  • http://6512andgrowing.wordpress.com/ 6512 and growing

    We do have backyard chickens, which has made my Freudian desires for eggs every morning much easier to achieve.

    I hope someday you have a troop of plucky girls scratching around your backyard.

    You have the best titles by the way, talk about spin!

  • debbiejl

    I love eggs and bagels too! Can skip the bacon. I am lucky that my brother lives out in an area where people raise chickens so we sometimes get very fresh, ya even gotta wash the shells yourselves, eggs. they truly are really delicious!

  • Merrisa Knox

    I met a man who convinced me to have chickens in my little city lot backyard. I decided to name my “girls” after flowers. Petunia is my favorite hen. She is a character….loves attention and will let me pick her up and carry her around the yard to get a true bird’s eye view. I am astounded by the rich orange yolks that stand tall in the pan. Quiche is out of this world! I love my chickens so much and so do my neighbors! This city girl is hooked!

    • Andrea

      I’m so jealous! I’ve been wanting a few hens for awhile now but can’t seem to make it happen. What kind of hens do you have and what type of arrangement do you have for them? I’m thinking I’ll build a hen house, but there are some portable ones available (pricey though)…

      • Michelle

        I don’t have ANY! (NYC does not lend itself to this kind of “pet”.) I dream of one day having them which is why my friend gave me the poultry magazine! The backyard hen movement, though, has taken off in a big way, and there are no doubt lots of resources online for building houses for them. Good luck!!

  • http://www.honeybeenutrition.com Julie @ Honey B.

    I love eggs. But more often than not I eat them later in the day rather than breakfast. Take that, Freud! ;-) I do feel better when I get more protein at breakfast, though. (And I get them at the farmer’s market as I too live in NYC – if I can’t have backyard chickens I can at least get close to having other people’s backyard chickens.)

  • http://www.girllovesdog.com Jess Mahler

    I would love if you included some information about the way the chickens are raised….when I buy eggs I look for humanely raised chickens but the labels are not always clear. I’m particularly interested in eggs that have the words “produced in compliance with United Egg Producers’ Animal Husbandry Guidelines” So, if you take suggestions…that’s mine! BTW, I lived on the corner of 1st St. and 2nd Ave. (beside the creepy Mars Bar) in the late 1990′s and then I moved to Philly for 7 years and guess what? I now have 50 chickens! It can happen, trust me.

    • Michelle

      Thanks Jess for raising this issue. I will address it in greater length in part II of this post, and will look forward to your input on it then!

  • Cherie H.

    I have also recently given up eggs (and dairy as I discovered I am lactose intolerant) to see how living without them would make me feel. I read the book, “Engine 2 Diet” and was experimenting with an adapted vegan diet. I have gone back to eating an egg or two a week (I only buy free range organic) and love them poached on a slice of toasted whole wheat italian pane. So good! I am, however, learning to bake many things without dairy or eggs and the results have been very positive!

  • http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/ christinachan

    “None of this, though, explains why I have an obsession with chickens…” Haha so cute. V informative (as usual). Thank you! xxx
    http://reallyliteral.blogspot.com/

  • Cindy

    Those are beautiful looking eggs in the photo! Are those blue-ish ones Araucana?

    • Michelle

      Yes! They came from a farm that raises several varieties of chickens so the eggs are always a mix of colors!

  • Debbie

    I am fortunate enough to live less than a quarter mile away from my egg source – an older couple that has their chickens running around their yard eating what chickens should. The eggs are amazing and I’m always sad when winter comes and I have to buy from the store.
    I would L-O-V-E to have chickens of my own! There’s just something about them that intrigues me, besides they would help greatly with the bug population around our place. Even though we live in the country, our schedules aren’t conducive (yet:) to having them, but I already have plans in mind for a mobile coop that I can move around the yard. Due to coyotes, a fenced coop for nights is a necessity.

  • http://www.theloucels.com crystal

    I’m a vegetarian and eggs are a big part of my diet. I have genetic high cholesterol (I eat egg whites mostly), but I’ll continue to eat my 3-4 eggs/week.

  • http://www.planithealthier.com Deirdre Holmes

    Interesting to know about the “bacon and eggs” PR campaign. I wonder, though, about breakfast traditions before 1900. Chickens have been domesticated for 1000s of years. The fading of the egg-cholesterol connection myth is a big relief – (healthy) eggs offer excellent nutrition.

    As you may already know: the best thing to do with a fresh egg: poach it; the worst thing to do: hard boil it (the freshness of the egg results in sloppy peeling – so if the shell comes off easily and neatly, your egg was not fresh).

  • wildwildwest

    Adelle Davis, the famous nutritionist, always said this: For optimum health, eat like a King at breakfast, a Prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner…

  • http://www.sigil93.net Sacha

    By “Freud’s nephew,” are you talking about Bernays? If so, I think the guy deserves mention as more than just “Freud’s nephew.” He completely revolutionized marketing. Cigarettes, originally just for men, became “liberty torches” for women, etc. Although he may have employed some of Freud’s theories, Bernays was brilliant by his own right. See the documentary “The Century of the Self.”

    • Michelle

      Yes and you are so right. In fact I’m going to put a link at the bottom of that post for people that want to get more info on Mr Bernays and the exceptional things he did. I will try to get a hold of that documentary as I’m sure I’d love it.

  • http://www.meandjorge.com Amber

    I started a low sugar diet (which I blog about) over a year ago, and started to eat eggs more often. I dont like them, their taste or texture, but they are essential to a low sugar/carb eating plan it seems. I did start to buy farmers market eggs, or when I cant get there get the best ones I can at the store.

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