Thursday, April 12, 2012

Women, eggs

-Sometimes, without knowing precisely what goes on at one, I'll announce my desire to run off to a spa. It sounds pleasant, right? Maybe they'd, like, paint my nails?

"You have to stay a minimum of six days, you don’t eat too much—you eat 600 calories a day—you do some baths and some treatments all day long. You do yoga, and all day long they do blood tests, and they put some oxygen in your blood…"

If you thought people who voluntarily signed up for surgical procedures in the name of vanity had a screw loose, consider that there are still others getting medical treatments for the heck of it, and not even emerging a cup size larger or schozz size smaller. I'm now officially spa-phobic.

-I'm not sure where Dan Savage came up with the idea that the typical 22-year-old woman wants to hear that her male partner's fantasy is: "'I want to sprinkle rose petals on the bed and light a thousand tea candles in the apartment.'" He might be thinking of what an especially immature high school freshman would claim to want from her crush.

-Nicholas Kristof takes on the food industry, specifically the Egg Industrial Complex, bringing food concerns up to the level of child prostitution and other genuine concerns. Pollan, Bittman, consider your turf invaded.

Eggs, of all things, strike me as the best example of where governmental regulation, and not consumer activism/boycotts/fussiness would be needed. Sure, you can make sure to only buy "cage-free" eggs. But who knows if that means anything significant, and more to the point, a great deal of the "egg" we consume is in the form of products (baked goods, etc.) in which egg is an ingredient. All but the most thorough vegans, all but those with severe egg allergies, are sometimes eating food from the outside with bits of egg of unknown provenance. Even those who raise their own chickens in their Brooklyn backyards, or who proudly announce that they are willing to pay $6 for a dozen of the most reputable eggs, have no idea where many of the eggs they consume come from.

Inasmuch as Kristof is asking the government to step in, I'm with him. But the way he frames his op-ed, trying to make individual consumers feel guilty about eating eggs for breakfast, without suggesting an ethically- and nutritionally-viable alternative, is a problem for several reasons. It demonizes the person in the family who does the grocery shopping (and draw the obvious gender conclusions). It suggests that the solution is to be found in making grocery-shopping a research project, and not in making sure that the truly objectionable isn't in stores to begin with. It encourages people to feel they've done their part in making the world a better place by purchasing something that cost a bit more but had the right thing stamped on it. I get that we need consumers to care enough to advocate for the government to step in, but this is a different kind of caring than the one that elicits - just take a look at the comments - smug personal accounts of buying the right eggs for one's family.


Kayla said...

Hi, Phoebe, did you see the latest Savage Love column? Kind of goes with things you have written in the past: Dan Savage says that people (women) do not have to go along with kinks they don't like. But his angle is, anything other than shit, bestiality or pedophilia is fine, and although he wouldn't admit it, you get the impression that he thinks people all ought to have the same attitude. And someone who objects to urine gets treated skeptically -- he seems to think it's hard to find someone who isn't interested in urine or something worse.

I guess it's an occupational hazard of being a sex columnist -- you come to think relatively "vanilla" people are much less common than they really are.

Britta said...

Eggs are something I am willing to pay more for. I buy eggs that say cage free free range blah blah at Hyde Park Produce, though who knows what the conditions are really like. I do find that I am more and more willing to pay more for my food to get food of hopefully slightly better quality, from both a health, safety, and environmental perspective.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


Indeed, Savage's line of work skews his perception of "normal." Which can be a problem when he's advocating for setting aside "normal," yet at the same time drawing lines in terms of what someone owes a partner, lines based on some vision of normalcy.


"a health, safety, and environmental perspective."

What about how they taste?

I usually get the cheapest ones at Whole Foods, from their brand, which are cage-free but not organic, and are, I believe, $3 or just under. Don't seem to have keeled over from them yet. They don't taste any different from the more industrial variety.

But as to the more general point, we don't know the real story behind the eggs we purchase, let alone behind the eggs that are ingredients in other foods we eat, thus this is the kind of thing it's probably better if the state sets a minimum for than that we turn into second dissertation projects. I mean, there could still be choice, we'd still have the option of getting heirloom eggs for a dollar each or whatever, but there wouldn't be a need to pay more in what might be the entirely futile hope of avoiding something atrocious. As it stands, we're left thinking we ought to pay more, but a) how much more is enough, and b) if we're cynical, we wonder if this is all a marketing scheme, and the very same eggs are marked differently.

PG said...

I'd amend my comment below about preferring to avoid government intervention, to add that I want to retain existing regulation about workers' health and safety, and am in favor of signing only free trade agreements that require our imports to meet those same standards. I'm also inclined to support higher government standards for the treatment of animals in terms of applying the same laws against animal cruelty/neglect where the mistreatment is not an end in itself but a way to make food production cheaper. However, if I legally can keep a pet pig without giving it toys to play with, I don't think we need to give future bacon strips toys in their pens.