Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Consider the egg
In marble halls as white as milk,
Lined with a skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear.
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.
Eggs are in the SA news this week. Big eastern-states producers are deliberately swamping the market with inferior and stale but incredibly cheap eggs at prices with which the local producers can't hope to compete. It's something to do with differing State regulations; nobody seems to be quite able to provide a clear explanation of what the problem is, but the local egg producers were out in force yesterday, showing their displeasure outside Parliament House and being, erm, egged on by Independent and parliamentary gadfly Nick 'No Pokies' Xenophon.
And today the Advertiser is running a shot of legendary local chef Cheong Liew holding a frypan with a fried egg in it in each hand. On the left we have the yucky, watery, tasteless, stale and badly shaped 'imported' Queensland egg, and on the right, the richly coloured, perfectly round and yummy-tasting local free-range product from down the freeway on the fertile and gorgeous Fleurieu Peninsula, home to some of the great wines of the world.
So today I went to quite a lot of trouble to make sure that the eggs for the mayo for the Christmas Day deluxe potato salad, and for the custard for the Christmas Day deluxe trifle, were local and fresh. (I wouldn't put it past my sisters to start agitating for devilled eggs as well, which means that by Boxing Day we'll have used up our cholesterol quota until Easter.) On either side of me in the supermarket, fellow punters were scanning the sides of the cartons for the same information.
The general consensus is that the eggs rolling in from the eastern states are crap and that most loyal South Australians are prepared to stump up quite a bit extra to support the local product, especially as it's manifestly fresher and better. But if free trade prevails and the SA producers end up going under, I'm going to have to take extreme measures and revert to my rural childhood. I've got a great big back yard and there is absolutely nothing to stop me (I know this because the bloke next door has chooks, so clearly the council doesn't mind) from clearing a patch of it, building a coop, and acquiring half a dozen little clucky ones of my own.