DO you remember the big egg recall last year? You probably do, since it involved some 500 million eggs shipped nationwide, and helped pave the way for a landmark piece of legislation, the first major revamping of food-safety standards in over 60 years. This bill, as with so many others, is not without controversy; local-food advocates decry Big Brother’s undue influence over small producers, while food-safety fanatics resent the lack of accountability over the whole food chain. Nothing new under the sun, is there?
Of course, I wondered where our eggs were coming from. After I verified that they weren’t on the recall list, I still wanted to know more of their origins. So, I started with the package itself:
(Okay. I know what you might be thinking: “THAT’S a carton of eggs?” What are you running, a diner?” Well…keep a few things in mind: first, we are a family of five, with three of them being school-age boys-14, 12, and 9. These kids can EAT. We recently passed a sort of “Egg Event Horizon” where a dozen eggs, scrambled with some milk, doesn’t quite stretch across five plates. I’m a little scared. Second, buying eggs “only” a dozen at a time would run into multiple trips to the store, resulting in increased costs of time and energy. Third, these big packages are cheap. Try $5 for that flat of 5 dozen eggs, and you can see why it’s one of the staples of our big shopping trips.)
So, back to the packaging. Further inspection reveals the company address in the lower right corner:
an encouraging sign, to be sure. But how nearby were they laid? Remembering my lesson from the soda-pop, I decided to take this investigation a step further. I found the company’s website, and submitted a question on the “Contact” form. I wanted to know if there was any sort of origin code on the package so that I could determine the source of the eggs.
When the phone rang moments after I hit “send,” I thought half-jokingly that here was someone form the company calling me back-yeah right! That could happen! Imagine my surprise when it actually did. I was speaking to one of the great-grand-descendants of the company’s founders, who was more than happy to tell me anything I wanted to know about eggs and egg production. To make a long story short, the company has two egg farms in Pasco, Washington, which is roughly 130 miles from here. The production code is at the upper-right corner of the package:
The top date is the “sell-by” date; the letter in the second row is the facility code, in this case ‘P’ for Pasco (‘E’ stands for the East Pasco location); and the other numbers indicate the Julian date of the eggs’ origin. These eggs, then, were laid on January 11. I bought them on January 13. Not too shabby, considering that sell-by date is a pipe dream: they’ll never last that long here.