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Erica Wides Headshot

Is It Food, or Is It Foodiness? Let's Ask the Chicken... or Maybe the Egg?

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The spring holidays have ended, the last bit of stale matzo has been choked down, and we Hebraic types can all go back to eating bread again, although I never stop eating bread at Passover. In fact, I probably ate MORE bread last week then I normally do any other week. Not out of spite or internalized antisemitism or anything, just by total coincidence. Why should that week be any different from any other week? It's not like I'm suddenly becoming observant at 46.

Or, maybe you ate your weight in jellybeans and peeps and Cadbury crème eggs, and now all that's left of your Easter basket is a litter of wrappers and those useless black jelly beans and some plastic grass? Either way, we're done for a good long time with the last set of chronologically-coinciding major religious holidays that revolve around symbolic foods, until we get back to the next major chronologically-coinciding religious holidays that revolve around food again in December, so let's all take a moment to enjoy this break. And recover. And reflect. And... resurrect. Sorry.

It sure all comes around again fast, every year as I'm cleaning up from Thanksgiving, I always say, "may as well leave the table leaves in place, and all the serving pieces and cloth napkins out, because it'll be Passover before we know it" and then, it is. But I do put the stuff away. Mostly because I got a beautiful vintage mid-century credenza at a thrift store this winter for $150 and I love putting my vintage mid-century serving stuff in it and pretending it's 1965 and I'm Peggy Olson, once she finally found love and settled down with good furniture and nice dishes.

But that big wheel in the sky keeps on turning, and the calendar keeps on flipping back around, and the whole great circle of life keeps on going. And whether you celebrated being spared by the angel of death or the gory death of a naked Jewish guy or just the rebirth of the planet with jelly-coated gefilte fish or Cherry Coke glazed ham, everybody observes the spring holiday ritual somehow. Persian new year, Tet, Easter, Passover, they're all holidays meant to celebrate the arrival of spring, plus a few other somewhat more bloody and dramatic related events.

And the return of spring always reminds me of many years ago, when I was a young single girl, and I joined a summer share house on Fire Island. The guy who ran the house was a member of my tribe named Warren, and Warren and I had a traditional Jewish ritual that we shared a deep love for. It was the "Going to Target and buying up half-price Easter candy on the Monday after Easter" ritual. You can observe this ritual all this week, as the pink and green foil wrapped kisses get marked down, and the malted milk speckled eggs get pushed to the clearance rack. But what do I care what color the foil on that kiss is? A kiss is but a kiss, right? I used to do the same thing after Halloween, Christmas, all the color-specific-foil themed holidays, and although I don't really eat much candy anymore, fifteen years ago, when Warren and I would shop in mid-April to stock up the beach house, we were all over that clearance candy shelf. We would still be eating those pink-speckled malt-ball eggs with our July 4th hot dogs, some years.

And while I rarely eat any speckled malt-ball eggs anymore, I do eat a whole lot of eggs. But only real eggs. Real as in pastured, grass, bug and cow-poop-fed eggs. From a farm, not a factory. I eat an egg a day; for me, it's like taking a multivitamin, which I did back in the candy-eating days too, but don't do now either. I don't need vitamins because I eat real food, because that's where they come from. Eating my egg a day gives me superpowers. I totally believe that.

In the Fire Island candy-eating years I went through a phase of egg-white only bullshit, the fat phobia, the spurning of the yolks. What a waste that was. I'm very sorry I wasted all those yolks. In fact, I now want to apologize to all those unborn egg yolks, whose potential I tossed away in an utterly unnecessary, misguided, fearful and futile attempt to fight cholesterol and fat. I'm truly sorry. I was a victim of flawed, corporate-influenced research, misinformation and insidious food industry marketing. But in the spirit of Easter and resurrection, I've been reborn. I've repented. I have risen. I've started anew. It is the season of renewal, after all. Resurrection, escaping bondage, surviving plagues, choose your allegory. They all work.

My Passover wish this year -- you know, the wish you make when you blow out the candles on the afikomen and everybody writes you a big fat check, oh wait, I'm mixing up my Jewish life rituals a little bit, but anyway, MY Passover wish for all of us, all of earth's human beings, is that we can all just get OVER the egg fear once and for all, and start eating whole eggs again! Why, oh why, when I have to get breakfast at Starbucks, like if I'm on the road or in a hotel where the breakfast buffet is $18.95 but there's a Starbucks right in the lobby, why, oh why, I ask again, am I forced to have egg whites only on my spinach, tomato and feta breakfast wrap? I want that one because I want the spinach, feta and tomatoes, but I want a whole egg on it, not just whites!

The other wraps have whole eggs, the ones with bacon and ham and cheese and stuff, and while I like and occasionally will eat all that, if I'm on the road, chances are I'm not getting many vegetables as it is, so at least I can get that token bit of green in my breakfast sandwich. And I like the roasted tomatoes on that thing. Why does Starbucks assume that just because I want spinach, I only want whites? Ironically, it's the wrap with the spinach and tomatoes that has fewer calories than the ham and cheese one, so give me my yolk so that I'm not hungry again in forty minutes. If I want spa food, I'll go to Canyon Ranch. I just want the whole egg. But the egg white mythology, the lie, it just keeps going, the egg yolk fallacy, the belief that eggs are bad for you, that they'll raise your cholesterol to dangerously high levels. That eating eggs, something mammals and amphibians and fish and birds and humans have done since we developed mouths is bad for us. Let's, please, just GET OVER IT people.

Egg white omelets, egg "beaters", egg substitute products -- why would you f*ck around with nature's perfect food? Okay, I know if you think about what eggs really are, it can be a little gross, conceptually. But there is no other perfect little package of nutrition out there, that is so handy and tasty and versatile and thriftily priced, too! Even the snooty farm-raised eggs I buy, at $6/dozen only come out to 50 cents an egg, what other perfect nugget of nutrition costs that little?

And yes, we've all heard it before, I've devoted multiple episodes of Let's Get Real to eggs, but I need to say it again because the lingering misinformation makes me want to scream. The complex nutrition in an egg yolk blows away the simple watery protein of the white, they have lutein, vitamin A, omega 3's , good fats, Conjugated linoleic acids. Of course, a lot of the quality of the egg depends on what the hens ate, and that's where things get complicated. This is where the orthorexia rears its hungry head. Which eggs do I eat? What does free-range mean? Pastured? Organic? Extra omega 3s added? Well I've discussed all of this before too. Here's a summary. The key word is PASTURED. Not pasteurized, PASTURED. It means the hens ran around outside all day, preferably on a cow pasture, and ate grass and seeds and bugs and micro-critters they pecked from out of the decaying cow manure. I know, gross, but... cows on pasture eat what? Pasture. That's grass. So if all they eat is grass, then all they poop is grass. Grass is green, because its full of what? Chlorophyll. And chlorophyll becomes beta-carotene in their bodies. Remember that from 10th grade biology? Me either.

When the cows eat the grass, the chlorophyll and beta-carotene get stored in their body fat, and become omega-3 fatty acids. Those are really good for you. That's why grass-fed meat and milk are infinitely superior foods than grain-fed. When cows and steers eat grain, which is full of omega 6's, the grain is digested and the omega 6's are stored in the cows' milk and fat. Humans need 3s and 6's, but we need WAY more 3's than 6.

So what you really want in your eggs is for them to be pastured. Not grain-fed, not vegetarian, not "free-range" as that just means they're not in cages, which is good, but not enough and they may never see daylight, not "organic" as that just means organic corn and grain, although if that's all you can find then that's the best bet. And speaking of Easter candy, which we were before, but not now, but this is funny, Cadbury crème eggs, actually contain egg. Yes indeed, on the label, in the ingredient list, is "free-range egg powder". Which is weird because everybody knows Cadbury eggs are LAID by the Easter bunny, and rabbits are total herbivores, so who's been feeding egg powder to the Cadbury bunnies? I smell an undercover investigation in the works.

Eggs have been a symbol of spring and rebirth and renewal since the beginning of everything. What's more symbolic than an egg? And what better way to fully embrace a symbol, than to eat it, right?

So for the sake of rebirth and renewal of the earth, which frankly, I'm not so sure every year will actually happen, and am always quite relieved when it does, stop chintzing out on crappy supermarket eggs or even worse buying pre-made egg products, and get thyself to a farmers' market. That should have been one of the original Ten Commandments, speaking of my man Moses. Thou shalt not eat crappy Foodiness eggs or otherwise industrial egg products. The second commandment, of course should have been, thou shalt not pay full price for holiday themed candy at Target.

So happy post chronologically-coinciding religious holidays that revolve around food. And remember, if you don't want to eat Passover sh*t or Easter sh*t... listen to http://letsgetrealshow.com/ on www.heritageradionetwork.org