by VIRGINIA JAMES
Columnist

So, the more we learn about this “natural food” business, the more we hear about the difference in eggs.  You watch “Food Inc.” and you see only slightly less than a bajillion chickens crammed together in a chicken concentration camp.  That is then juxtaposed against the happy, healthy, and very lucky birds on pasture at Polyface Farm.  And in any or all of Michael Pollan’s treatises on food you read about the variance in the eggs produced by said chickens – particularly as it pertains to the yolks.  Conventional eggs look, well, normal – yellow yolks – while the Holy Grail of eggs is said to have a big, orange yolk that stands up and smacks you in the face.  Now that would be something to see!  An orange egg!

In recent years I’ve bought eggs from every locale (store, farm, back of a dude’s truck), with every kind of shell (white, brown, brown with speckles and spots), in every kind of carton (Styrofoam, brown, tree bark).  With certain variances, the yolks are slightly improved, but nothing to write home about.  So, I’ve been beginning to wonder if this elusive orange yolked egg was merely a myth thought up by the natural food cults.  That sounds about right.

And then, today, a strange thing happened.  After slipping the children mini horse tranquilizers to get them down for naps, I needed a quick, nourishing lunch.  Enter my fridge.  Not much to offer today, but I did spy a baggie of leftover bacon. Win!  Bread in the toaster, eggs in the pan!  Now, this morning when I’d made muffins, I’d used some free-range, organic eggs purchased from the store, and they had been the standard brown shell, yellow yolk fare.  So for my lunch, I decided to run a little comparison.  I bypassed the store eggs, boasting their merit with a box so pulpy it looked as if it were log hewn, and reached instead for the re-used Styrofoam affair that had come from friends only a few days before.  The carton brandished no accolades, these eggs were without certification of any kind, yet it’s worth noting that the eggs themselves still bore the plumage of their origin.  Ha!  They still had freakin’ feathers stuck to them!  Can’t get much fresher than that!

Other than the feathers, these eggs looked the same as the store bought eggs, but when I cracked one open I nearly jumped out of my skin!  I don’t know what that thing was that had just slid out of the shell, but it didn’t look like any egg I’d ever seen!  The yolk was huge, and tall, and ORANGE!  Not dark yellow, or anything that could be called yellow!  No doubt about it, I was fixin’ to eat an orange egg.

And this is the part where the confession comes in. I got grossed out.  I mean, for real.  This thing looked … weird.  And I was gonna eat it?  “Um, okay.  I mean, I know it’s orange because it’s ‘better’.  It’s how eggs ‘should be’.  I’m only weirded out because the crappy American food system has deprived me the opportunity of seeing what an egg is supposed to look like!  Yeah, that’s all!  I’m down with this! …  Nope.  That egg looks weird.  I don’t want to eat it.”   

But I don’t watch documentaries and read nonfiction books thick enough to knock a man out for nothin’.  So I cracked the second egg into the pan and proceeded to cook ‘em up.  Two orange eggs.  *shiver*  When they were done (maybe even cooked a little more than usual), and the toast was buttered, and the bacon warmed, I dished up my meal and went to work.  Orange oozed around on my plate and I could feel my stomach tightening.  But like any child weaned on hominy and other detestable veggies will tell you, you’ve gotta just jump in!  So I forked a large bite in one hand, grabbed up my toast in the other and went for it.

The egg tasted normal.  More richly flavored, maybe, than its store-bought counterparts, but other than that, totally normal.   That didn’t keep me from being a little queasy throughout the remainder of my lunch, I’m afraid, and if I went to the sink right now and looked at the orange crime scene remains on my plate, I’d probably still get weak in the  stomach.  Because I’m a wuss.  And possibly a poser; I don’t know.  I DO know that our senses work together for a REASON, though, and when my brain registers that my eyes are seeing something out of the ordinary, the rest of my body cries out, “Do not ingest this weird thing!  Do you not understand how evolution works!?!”  So there’s that.

Whatever.  I ate the eggs.  They tasted fine.  And I’m psyched to have orange eggs in my possession!  I feel kinda like someone brought me some meat in freezer packs and it turned out to be unicorn!  Heck yeah!  Unicorns are hard to come by!  I’ve got orange eggs, suckas!!