Posted by: ktzefr | May 27, 2014
Green Eggs and Bacon
Green eggs! Were my eyes playing tricks? I held the carton under the counter-top halogen lights. I held it under the bright grow lights of the Aerogarden. I held it in the natural light. The eggs were still green.
Not neon or forest or Easter egg green. To be precise, the eggs had only a hint of green, like the palest mint or mist-off-the-sea.
The bacon was almost crisp, the toast buttered, the blueberries and jam already on the table. I needed a second opinion. My husband took one look. They’re green, he said.
Green Eggs and Ham ran through my mind. So many things in life remind me of books. Books remind me of life. But I had never seen real green eggs that hadn’t been purposely colored. Was this anomaly due to some insecticide? Herbicide? Moldy chicken feed? I’ve seen pale green mold the exact color of the eggs.
I broke one in a measuring cup. Unlike the green-yolked eggs in the Dr. Seuss book, these yolks looked perfectly normal. Richer looking, actually, with intense orange yolks.
We ate breakfast. Green eggs and bacon.
Later, when I started to toss the empty egg carton into the trash I saw a label on the inside, so I peeled it off and read.
“Pete and Gerry’s Heirloom hens lay beautiful pastel colored eggs with deeply flavored yolks. These heirloom breed Ameraucana hens are cared for on very small family farms where they are fed a rich diet of whole grains, marigold, and alfalfa grasses.” Alfalfa green! I can imagine that color on a label in a box of crayons. I can also now envision marigold-colored eggs.
I did some research and learned that the hens originate from the domesticated hens of the indigenous people of Chilean Patagonia. They must be kept outside in order to produce eggs, as they cannot survive at industrial chicken farms. The pretty egg shells have a range of colors and are a valuable identifier, a sign of free range quality, though the special genes of these hens have more to do with the shell color than does their diet. They can’t be faked.
In Chile they are referred to as the Blue Egg Chicken or Araucana, a name the Spaniards gave to the local Mapuche people and to this region of the country. In the powerful 2010 earthquake the blue egg chicken farms were badly hit. In 2012 a forest fire further devastated some of these areas. Now, they are trying to reproduce more of the hens and develop more commercial sales of the eggs.
It’s such fun when some small thing, like breaking an egg, unearths a history or a story that spans across continents and time.
Posted in Animals, Cooking, food, Latin America, Nature, Writing | Tags: Araucana hens, Blue Egg chickens, Chilean Chickens, Green eggs, Mapuche, organic farming, Pete and Gerry's Eggs