Chicken or Egg?

Aditi, Danielle Wilde, Iryna Karaush, Laura Fähndrich & Yoram Chisik

Food fermentation, Helminthic therapy, and other examples of human-food consumption processes that involve non-humans as partners.

We began with baklava (or ‘placenta cake’), a tea bag (which speaks to colonialism), a jar of mixed pickles (which speak of spices and other places), a pudding and a tray of eggs. The commonality was a concern for origins and histories, carried in the foods we eat. The trace we determined to follow was that of the egg.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg, individual or planet? If we must change how we eat (and we must) can we do it by asking what our foods represent? Can we begin with the egg? According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report outlining nutritional recommendations for Americans, eggs are a nutrient-rich ‘first food.’

Indeed, a single egg contains the necessary nutrients to turn a fertilized cell into a baby chicken. If we reflect on the nutritional, social and gustatory pleasures and pains of the egg, might it help us to reconsider how we feed our bodies, our social connections, our pleasure centres and our planet?

Changing behaviour is far from straight-forward. Beginning reflections from the humble egg enables us to bring many charged conversations to the table. While we do not pretend to have found any solutions to the challenge of transforming how we eat, using an egg as a catalyst for reflection opened up many issues that usefully ‘thicken’ the discussion.