Eggs are a pretty important part of our household diet, as my partner and I are both pescatarians. I’m a bulky guy, and I cycle a little, so I like my protein. My partner is a petite woman who can only stomach so much fish in a day, and who suffers a complete anxiety breakdown every time we get down to less than three jars of peanut butter in the apartment. We need our eggs.
On one egg issue, however, we are an apartment divided. She checks every grocery store product to ensure that it is wild-caught, free range, GMO-free, gluten-free, cage-free, free-range, dolphin safe, all-natural, organic, free-trade, holistic, handmade, PETA-approved, chemical free, MSG-free, pesticide free, hydroponic, community-grown, eco-friendly, and sustainable. It makes grocery shopping an expensive marathon (which are also surprisingly expensive to participate in, by the way).
I, on the other hand, choose groceries like a penny-pinching billy goat on diet cheat day. Back in the glory days of ultra-couponing, I was like a man possessed. I stockpiled enough bathroom products to last my family of four for 2.5 years without spending a dime. I had a savings average per trip of around 96%, and my ex-wife had to restrain me from buying a truckload of drastically discounted Dentu Creme that I thought we might use 50 years later. I’m a bargain shopper through and through; quality and brand names be damned!
These two clashing approaches to grocery procurement mean that my girlfriend and I engage in a philosophical standoff every time we buy a dozen eggs, which is like twice a week. I’m convinced she’s been emotionally scarred by some “shockumentary” she saw years ago, and she thinks I’m the heartless product of American consumerism.
Our existing options aside, at the most basic level, we both want the same thing: eggs from healthy, happy chickens at a reasonable price. The egg industry, however, plays us against each other, implying that these two conditions cannot simultaneously exist. But why not? Why exactly do cage-free eggs have to cost $4.00 to $5.00 per dozen while eggs without that designation almost always cost less than $1.00 per dozen?