Sustainable eating and scrambled eggs

You may have noticed, if you’ve here, that I like food. I like writing about it, reading about it, taking photos of it and even eating it.

One of the basics when it comes to being passionate about all this is understanding where the things that become food come from.

On a blog where I try to focus on relatively easy recipes with accessible ingredients, I don’t want to start preaching to everyone about how they should eat. I’m also the kind of person who wants to be sure of what I’m saying before I go on acting like I’m an expert in anything, and advocating for things I don’t understand.

But I’ve thought about this a lot, and I’ve done my homework. (There are some great resources out there for understanding what this all means on a grand scale.) You can do good things by thinking about how sustainable it is to grow something. Whether that something is cherries or chickens, it really is worth it, for the sake of being able to keep producing food, and to have land and water that can support its own ecosystems, among many other reasons.

To me, sustainability means a few things. It means that I try to eat organically for the environmental impact, seasonally and locally for the small business impact (and for the environment…), and with animal welfare in mind for the animals (and, well, the environment for this one, too).

I’m not perfect, by any means. I still really like avocados, even though they definitely don’t grow anywhere near England, and I don’t ask the people at the cheap-and-cheerful market stalls near my office where their meat comes from. But it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. There is nothing wrong with doing what you can afford, and thinking more carefully about what you consume and why.

happy chicken

Starting out

If you’re thinking about how you can #eatclean in the way it matters most, for sustainability and welfare, but not sure exactly where to begin – start small. The first food I made a serious commitment on was eggs. They’re affordable and versatile, and I learned quickly that moving up to higher welfare eggs wasn’t going to significantly change how much they cost, but makes a huge difference for the environment, the chickens, and the taste of my scrambled eggs.

happy chicken

Let’s travel together into the way-back machine, when I was first introduced to the happiest chickens I’ve ever met. Labor Day 2010, Catskills, NY. Handsome Brook Farms.

Our introduction came early. They crashed through the bushes and tried to follow us into the house, then joined us on walks through the fields. The hens of Handsome Brook spent time wherever they pleased; real ladies of leisure. With beautiful, glossy feathers and an active social life, I had truly never seen chickens who seemed so happy to be alive.

happy chickens

The chickens had run of the farm.

Then, we sampled the freshest eggs at breakfast, in French toast and on their own, and it was obvious how the freedom these chickens had to pick at insects, plants and whatever else they wanted to eat affected the quality of what showed up on our plates.

After that trip, I said no to battery cage eggs, and “free range” hens who have never seen the sun. It costs more but not a huge amount more, and I can just think about those chickens and understand why doing something, however small, is better than doing nothing.

So instead of skirting the issue, I am going to start addressing it in my posts. I can’t afford to make everything I eat the most local or sustainable, but when I can, I will. And if I can offer suggestions for people who want to do the same, then I will.

Eating sustainably

This is a luxurious and easy breakfast that showcases farm-fresh eggs, but still includes a guilty-ish pleasure ingredient, avocado. You can find organic, sustainable avocados, though it’s unlikely they’ll be local. This one came in our veg box from Riverford and was grown in Mexico.

scrambled eggs with avocado

Scrambled eggs with avocado and feta

Serves: 2

On the Counter

4 free-range organic eggs
4 tsp milk
1 avocado, sliced thinly, or into chunks
2 oz (55 g) feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 tsp (or a dash) of salt
1 tsp unsalted butter
2 slices of bread, your choice

You’ll need

wide/flat pan or skillet
whisk or fork
wooden spoon or rubber spatula

What to Do

Whisk the eggs, milk and salt together until well combined.

If you’re making toast, put the toast down now.

In a skillet, melt the butter over medium/low heat. Once it’s melted, swish it around the pan until it’s covered the bottom. Add in the egg mixture.

Immediately as it starts to set, push the eggs from the edge of the pan to the middle and keep doing so, making sure that you don’t get giant curds of egg. Once you don’t have any more liquid egg mixture, but they eggs are still a bit wet, you’re ready. It should only take 2-3 minutes until your eggs are finished.

Top the toast with avocado, then egg, then sprinkle on the feta cheese. Serve!

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