Chickens and Eggs - Random Reasonings

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Chickens and Eggs

A couple months ago consumers were lamenting the high cost of eggs. They were the one food item a lot of people focused on when dealing with rising food costs.

Right now at my grocery store the price is $3.89 for a dozen large eggs. Sill higher than I was paying last year this time, but affordable. Eggs are significant because they are such a staple of our diets.

The average American eats about 278 eggs a year. It takes a lot of hens to keep that egg production thriving. And the hens are doing their job! But early last year the Avian Influenza broke out and about 44 million egg-laying hens died. Hence, a shortage and rising prices of eggs.

It takes a while to replace 44 million hens.

My 11-year-old granddaughter raises chickens. She tends them, nurtures them, collects the eggs every day and takes care of them in all sorts of weather. Her hens lay a variety of eggs in really interesting colors.

She names her hens. Her favorite is Elsa. Elsa and some of the other hens occasionally come into the house with her, sit in her lap or on her shoulder, while she does school work, reads, or watches TV.

I really admire what she’s doing. It’s industrious, productive, and adds sustainability to her family’s lifestyle.

Because of her love for her hens she doesn’t eat chicken. Which is a huge challenge for me when she’s at our house for meals because chicken is so versatile. It pairs well with just about any kind of sauce, food prep method, side dishes, and works with all kinds of recipes.

Plus it’s healthy. Chicken is lean, low in fat, high in protein, and has lots of essential vitamins. If for any reason I could only have one kind of meat to eat it would definitely be chicken.

Most Americans agree with me. Chicken is the most popular meat in the U.S. It makes up 43% of all meat consumed. Each of us eats about 100 lbs of chicken each year. And even when the price of chicken and eggs jumps due to temporary scarcity, chicken and eggs continue to be affordable.

Chickens are a key part of the economic vitality of our country. 1.5 million people work in some aspect of chicken production. Wages for the industry are around $94 billion but total economic productivity is around $415 billion. Egg production employs about 43,000 people and as the demand for eggs and chickens keeps going up, so does the employment rate in that industry.

In typical U.S. fashion we’ve spread our love of chicken around the world into other cultures. In both China and Japan, Kentucky Fried Chicken is the favorite fast food chain restaurant. In Japan, KFC is so popular it’s become the Japanese Christmas food tradition. 3.6 million people eat it on the holiday.

Makes me think that perhaps this Christmas instead of doing my usual holiday buffet of foods, I should just make a run to the nearest KFC for a few buckets of original and extra krispy! Would be a lot easier than all that cooking.  Except I would still need something non chicken for my granddaughter. McDonalds or pizza for her?

And what would little kids do without chicken? Topping the list of meal choices on kids’ menus at restaurants are chicken nuggets and chicken tenders. I think my 5 year old grandson would be happy to have chicken tenders and french fries for every meal he eats – even breakfast!

Then there’s the whole bar and pub scene where “wing nights” abound! During the Super Bowl it’s estimated that 1.3 billion wings were sold on just that one day! Overall, we consume around 30 billion of them a year.

Given the versatility of chicken, what are your favorite chicken meals?

For those who choose to have their chicken as a prepared entree the most popular chicken meals are chicken parmesan, chicken and dumplings, roast chicken with mashed potatoes, Coq au vin, Chicken marsala, chicken bar-b-que, and chicken pot pie.

Let’s face it. As a country we just couldn’t survive without chicken. Nor could we survive without the eggs the hens lay. Eggs are an essential part of baked goods. 33% of people choose eggs as their favorite breakfast item – sunny side up, scrambled, in a fritatta, an omelette, or as a breakfast sandwich.

Even the other two most popular breakfast items, pancakes and French toast, can’t be made without eggs!

On average, right now you can buy a pound of chicken breasts for $4.35. A dozen large eggs for $3.89. It’s a good sign that chickens are reproducing, more hens are laying eggs, and it may not be much longer til the moaning about egg prices is gone.

As I write this I now I have 6 dozen eggs in my fridge. I’m not hoarding; just stocked up to make deviled eggs and red beet eggs for a party at our house. Deviled eggs are a hugely popular party food … seems everyone loves them.

I’m definitely going to keep a small container of them back for my husband and I to enjoy. If I don’t, I know they’ll all be gone by the time the party is over.

“What do you do if you break a carton of eggs? You scramble!”

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