“What’s That Got To Do With the Price of Eggs?”

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Do you think twice now before making a recipe that calls for three or more eggs? Silly to think that such a cheap, common kitchen staple has become such a hot topic lately, but folks it’s 2023, and here we are.  

 

Eggs. If you don’t buy groceries and live under a rock, allow me to enlighten you – eggs are no longer the affordable protein option. In fact, egg prices are soaring over 60 to 100 percent this year. So, what’s to blame? Some media outlets keep pushing the idea that a bird flu or avian flu is running rampant and is forcing farmers to kill chickens, causing the egg shortage and rise in prices. However, chicken farmers are claiming it’s something else entirely. According to many farmers posting on social media, their healthy chickens suddenly stopped producing daily eggs around the end of last summer. Chickens that were laying two to three eggs daily suddenly just stopped. This continued for months until the farmers switched from commercial feed to local chicken feed and the issue disappeared.  

 

Strange as it may seem, this happened to  many farms around the country. I’d also like to mention that many large food plants had strange disasters and burned down in the past year. This includes a commercial egg farm in central Connecticut that burned down recently due to causes unknown killing an estimated 100,000 chickens. The Animal Welfare Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based animal protection advocacy organization, speculated that heating and other electrical malfunctions cause a large majority of barn fires. So, what’s going on? I’ll leave you to speculate and draw your own conclusions.  

 

Meanwhile, let’s hear from some community members and get their take on the topic. 

 

Jill Dushey 

 

For about eight years we were buying fresh eggs from a small farm in Lakewood, NJ. We prefer buying from local small farms, as their eggs are fresher and more nutritious. We always toyed with the idea of having our own coop. Then, two summers ago, my friend was moving back to Brooklyn at the end of the summer. They had bought chicks just for fun and asked me to take and house them. “Now or never!” I thought and I took the chickens, jumping in without consulting my husband.  

 

Fortunately, he was up to the task! He built a chicken coop and we never looked back!  

 

Maintenance can be as difficult or as simple as you make it. The most pesky task I would say is cleaning out the coop to keep it sanitary, but that can be done once a day, once a month, or any amount of time in between – so it’s really up to you. We go out daily or every other day in the winter to collect eggs. The nice thing about owning chickens is if you’re going away, you don’t need a sitter. You can leave them with food and water while you’ll be gone and they’ll be fine. You need a coop, some chicks, work boots or rain boots, and an egg collecting basket. That’s really the bulk of it. There are many podcasts and resources to learn how to properly maintain a coop. Great for tips and overall education. 

 

We eat and use eggs from the coop, and whatever eggs we have extra, we sell to local community members. As far as what we feed the chickens – the bulk of it is scraps from veggies and leftovers from dinners that no one will touch. Basically, what some people would collect for compost, we collect for the chickens. The rest we supplement with organic chicken feed. I for sure feel like the cost of running a coop is nothing compared to what we’re saving from not buying grocery store eggs. And that’s aside from all the other benefits. 

 

Some of the other benefits are: The quality of the eggs you consume are so much better. It gives you appreciation of where your food comes from as well. It’s also good for the kids – easy chores for kids to be responsible, while connecting with nature, and enjoying chickens! They all have their own funny personalities. We really enjoy them! 

 

Patty Cohen 

 

Just last year, I remember buying a dozen eggs at Aldi in Deal for only 69 cents! Now at the same Aldi, they’re almost $5 a dozen, and that’s nothing compared to the Brooklyn stores!  

 

I’ve seen eggs go for around $7-10 a dozen! I’ve been buying the 24-pack at Costco for around $7. That’s the best deal I’ve seen. It’s really ridiculous. I’m not sure what it’s going to be like come holiday time.  

 

Before Pesach, I (and I’m sure everyone) stock up big time on eggs. We use them for the seder, for spanach, for quick and easy breakfast and lunch staples, and for all the family members who are home and living by us for 8 days – we go through at ton! It’s no longer the cheaper protein or ingredient. Unfortunately, it’s an expense in its own right. It doesn’t help that food plants and egg farms are exploding left and right, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence either.  

 

Whoever has space should for sure own their own chicken coop and grow whatever they can in their own gardens because it’s becoming clear we can’t depend on anything these days!  

 

Shirly Shweky 

 

I’m a home baker. I sell desserts to community members for Shabbat. This topic hits a sore spot for me and I’m sure all bakers. I use eggs in everything! I go through so many eggs when I work. I don’t want to raise my prices because I feel like it’s unfair to my customers, but the egg prices keep rising and it seems impractical to go on like this! Something really should be done! My small business depends on it! 

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There is so much to be said about the topic! The main thing to remember is Hashem is in control and ultimately everything will be okay. I am, however, strongly considering a chicken coop now after my interview with Jill. I always liked the idea, but after asking my questions and liking the answers she was giving, I’m even more interested! But for now, I’ll just buy some of her fresh eggs. I am so curious what’s going to happen next. The shortages seem random. The pandemic is behind us and with the right leadership I think there’s no reason things shouldn’t be “business as usual” as pre-pandemic. I’d say pray for better leadership but let’s just pray for Mashiach! Okay, I’m signing off until next time!  

 

Have a comment about this article or an idea for my next roundtable article? Email me! Frieda@sephardic.org 

 

Frieda Schweky is an event and portrait photographer @friedaschwekyphoto.