Tag Archives: chickens

Are You a Good Egg?

I’ve been thinking about eggs recently. Back when we lived in the hinterlands, we produced our own eggs. More accurately, our chickens produced the eggs that we snatched from them.  Since we’ve move back to the suburban wasteland, we can no longer keep chickens and have to buy eggs from the store.

What eggs should we buy? The options are, if not limitless, certainly broad. Do you buy the cheapest eggs at the cheapest store? Or do you go for something more exalted.

We can opt for brown eggs over white eggs. Brown eggs look like the ones that our flock on the farm laid, so they at least seem better. But of course, brown eggs raised in the same condition as the white eggs are exactly the same aside from their shell color. They may well have been fed a diet of drugs while residing in tiny cages with several of their closest friends, who may or may not be alive today.

Pay a little more and you can control for what you egg layers were fed: non-GMO feed, organic feed, vegetarian feed. You can also pay a premium for how the birds are raised: cage-free, free-range, or pasture raised.

What should the Christian buy? Should we be shamed into spending $50 a dozen for certified Kobe eggs, laid by hens who are paid a living wage and guaranteed to live out their natural lives in a national park? Should I feel bad if my eggs come from chickens that are not GMO-free? In mulling that, I’m reminded of something from Paul’s writing:

Therefore, don’t let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is Christ. (Colossians  2:16-17)

Don’t let anyone judge you, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t judge for ourselves. I’d suggest judging on two criteria:

First, are you buying the best eggs you can buy? Eggs laid by chickens that go outside, that eat bugs, that clip blades of grass, and that live lives fairly close to how God designed them to live, are, not surprisingly, better tasting and more nutritious than the anemic, cage-produced eggs you can pick up for $.69 at Wal-Mart. The yolks are darker, and the taste is richer. Why would I eat substandard food?

Second, can you feel good about yourself knowing how the chickens who lay your eggs live? If a hen has to live in a tiny cage, given about ninety square inches in which to “range” so that I can buy cheaper eggs, I’d say that price is too high. For comparison, imagine spending your productive life in an airplane bathroom. Maybe you think that’s okay for the source of your omelet. I’m not supposed to judge you, but I can judge me.

In the end, I’d argue that way too much judging of others goes on while far too little self-reflection occurs. People will cluck at those who eat non-organic eggs, while others crow about the folly of spending money for something as nebulous as free-range. PETA types line up on one side while pro-business conservatives populate the other. Enough!

Notice that Paul doesn’t say that food and drink and days are not important. He just says that we shouldn’t let others judge us over them. That doesn’t release us to live in blissful ignorance.

Which Came First? (Psalm 8:1)

LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
in the heavens. (Psalm 8:1)

We’re ready to move our baby chicks outside. Their growth in the past two and a half weeks has made them quite crowded in their little storage-tub brooders. The odor of their presence–that’s a polite way to say it, isn’t it?–has become quite profound. It’s time for them to vacate the garage and take up residence in the great outdoors.

If only I could take those tubs out into the yard, open up the lids, and dump the gals out onto the grass. But it’s just not that easy. I’ve had to ensure that predators couldn’t get to the birds. I’ve had to safeguard them from drafts and moisture. The top hatch on their chicken tractor had to be reattached. Heat lamps needed to be positioned inside the enclosure and electricity provided.

Life, it seems, is complicated. I mention this as I think of God’s glory not only placed in the heavens but spread throughout all of creation. For all the complexity of dealing with chickens or maintaining a modern household, the jillions of details that go into the physics, the chemistry, and the biology of life make my efforts seem like a game of tic-tac-toe.

My chickens will not appreciate the fine engineering that I incorporate into their outside domicile. They’ll be oblivious to the economics of eggs versus feed that determines their continued viability. They won’t understand the many systems and resources necessary to bring them water, shelter, and food, nor the profound social skills I’m required to deploy in order to sell their eggs.

That’s how it is us, when we ignore the glory of God as displayed throughout the world, when we think that by understanding an essential process such as photosynthesis or gravity, we can take some sort of credit for it. In reality, just as I can take no credit for the miracle of a chicken laying eggs, we can take no credit for the glory of God in which we live. That is, perhaps, the first and most important spiritual insight that we can possess.