As I reported in my last post, Tesla, the electric car company, is introducing a vegan model that is manufactured with no animal byproducts. Not to be outdone, Nestlé, the food company, has announced it is removing steel and aluminum from all its products.
Ha ha. Just kidding. What Nestlé did announce is that it’s going to start transitioning to 100 percent cage-free eggs in all of its U.S. products.
I wanted you to know this in case you notice that your bottle of Poland Spring water (a Nestlé brand) is beginning to look like the congealed egg drop soup that’s been in your fridge since the last time you brought in Chinese food, which is a problem, because you can’t even remember the last time you brought in Chinese food.
I can’t help wondering why using cage-free eggs is a big deal. I mean, why were they in cages in the first place? Was Nestlé afraid the eggs were going to escape? Has there been vicious herds of runaway eggs scrambling down America’s highways? (“Oh, honey, look how the little extra large eggs are all in a row behind the jumbo egg. Aren’t they cute?”)
Wait–I’ve just been informed that it really isn’t the eggs that are cage-free, it’s the chickens. I guess that makes more sense, although I don’t know why they don’t say “Eggs from cage-free chickens.”
In any case, have you noticed how the human race is suddenly very concerned about the quality of life of the animals it kills? We have free-range chickens, which I assume are also cage-free, because it would look silly to have hundreds of little cages all over the range. We have grass-fed beef and lamb, wild-caught fish and Iberian pork from pata negra pigs that roam free-range through old-growth oak forests, dining on herbs, grass, and acorns, which, according to Epicurious, results “in an intensely flavored, distinctly nutty, and richly marbled meat unparalleled in the ham universe.”
I know there have been all sorts of theories about parallel universes, but I think I’ll avoid the wormhole that opens into the ham universe. Call it Jewish paranoia, but I just have the feeling I wouldn’t be welcome there. Al Pacino might, though.
My point, though, is that we’re the only species that pays attention to the well-being of the animals it eats. It’s not like a lion, after taking down a gnu, makes sure it’s antibiotic-free before digging in. Of course, humans are also the only species that alters the way its prey lives. As much as lions might enjoy a small enclosure filled with gnus being raised in the most efficient way possible, they haven’t thought of doing it. Plus, there’s the whole opposable thumb thing.
Humans are at the top of the food chain because we have god-like power over the creatures below us. We can torture them, modify them, hybridize them and free them so we can round them up again at the end of the day. We can be cruel or benevolent before they are baked, basted or barbecued.
But does any of it matter once it’s meat? Sure, it might be healthier or tastier. But that doesn’t do the animal any good. It’s still dead and butchered. All this cage-free and free-range stuff is probably more about us being guilt-free.
In Other Gourmet Food News…
One of Nestlé’s competitors in the chocolate universe, Hershey, has announced its intention to remove GMOs from its Milk Chocolate and Kisses, and polyglycerol polyricinoleate (PGPR) from other products.
The problem with companies making announcements like this is that our reaction is “What the hell is polyglycerol polyricinoleate, why have you been feeding it to us in the first place, and does it have anything to do with the third arm that is growing out of my chest?” Really, they’d be better off just making the switch and not creating a fuss about it. After all, it’s not like there’s a huge group of polyglycerol polyricinoleate-haters out there who have been eschewing Hersheys and will now suddenly start wolfing down Mr. Goodbars (now with cage-free peanuts!)
In case you were wondering, “GMO” stands for “genetically modified organism.” Evidently, Hershey products have been packed full of stuff like genetically modified sugar beets and genetically modified soy lecithin. The soy lecithin is particularly troubling when you consider what un-genetically modified soy lecithin is:
“…about 35% soybean oil and 16% phosphatidylcholine. Phosphatidylcholine is a type of phospholipid that is abundant in liver and egg yolks, and is the primary form of choline found in foods. The remaining percentage is other phospholipids and glycolipids.”
If my math is right, that means nearly half of soy lecithin is made up of unidentified phospholipids and gycolipids, which must be worse than phosphatidylcholine, because otherwise, why would they be incognito?
So, in the wake of Hershey’s announcement, wouldn’t you like to know exactly what genetic modifications they were making to all those phospholipids and glycolipids?
I don’t know about you, but I only want to eat natural phospholipids and glycolipids. Actually, I only want to consume free-range phospholipids and glycolipids.
However, I don’t much care whether my chickens and eggs live in cages. But I do want to know which got cage-free first.
See you soon.