Though I’m highly sceptical about calling anything a super-food, if anything deserves the title it’s the mighty egg. Forget kale, moringa and ancient grains – eggs make them look laughable. Eggs, mainly their yolks, have it all: vitamins and amino acids galore, a healthy dose of natural fats, plus calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, selenium and zinc.
Of course, there are eggs and there are eggs. The way the hen lives makes all the difference, and a real free-range egg is a superior thing nutritionally, environmentally and ethically. Even if you don’t care one way or the other about chickens, antibiotics or fossil fuels, you will want well-farmed eggs simply because they taste so much better.
One has to do some searching though. Free-range eggs sold in supermarkets might not be the battery type but they certainly don’t taste as good, and usually aren’t as fresh, as the ones you’ll find from smaller suppliers at health shops and ethical or organic suppliers.
If there’s one thing I’d like to convince vegans to add to their diet, it would be a free-range egg now and then. Think about it, unless a vegan is eating only vegetables, grains, nuts, tofu and so on from small-scale, fully traceable organic farming, and therefore knows whether or not mice were minced in the combine harvesters, or whether glyphosate was used on their soy, I can’t see why the inclusion of the odd egg from a really ethical farm would make any difference.
I do, though, understand egg aversion on the grounds of being weirded-out. There is something undeniably disturbing about the hint of unformed chick, the viscosity, the primal gloop of it. One might even say that feeling no disquiet at all about eating animal eggs shows a lack of imagination.
- For some great dissection of bad egg science, read the ever-brilliant Zoe Harcombe.
- The revered Polyface farm in the US is the zenith of non-intensive, anti-monoculture farming. Their chicken-mobiles are worth having a look at.
- The wonderful Deb Perelman is the queen of interesting, delicious but never fussy or faddy dishes, and she excels with eggs. Some of my favourite egg experiments come from Smitten Kitchen.