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?
* 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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