By Bernie Bell
Yesterday evening, I was watching ‘The One Show’, as I do. https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m00049sy/the-one-show-15042019 They did an item about how many eggs are regularly thrown away in Britain – and it’s millions – I can’t remember how many millions, but it is a disgraceful number of millions.
This is because people are throwing eggs away, when they are past their ‘best before’ date. This applies to fruit and veg, meat, and cheese, too. I don’t understand it – with fruit & veg, meat, and cheese, you look at it, and smell it – if it looks ok and smells ok, it’s usually ok to eat. The same applies to eggs, but they are in their shells, so it’s not so easy to check. There are two simple ways of testing if an egg is edible or not – one is – place it in a bowl of cold water – if it sinks, it’s fresh, and edible. If it stands on one end at the bottom of the bowl, it’s probably ok – only way to find out for certain, is to crack it open. If it floats – best not – it’s an elderly egg!
The other way to check is, to crack the egg into a cup, and….if it smells ok and looks ok, it’s probably ok. This method is best if you’re meaning to use the egg immediately – for baking or frying or whatever.
My Dad used to be able to tell if an egg was fresh, by holding it to his ear, and shaking it – but that was my Dad, who had a lot of the old ways.
So, this waste of fruit, veg, meat, cheese, eggs etc., is a by-product of conditioning about ‘best before’ dates. We have become dependent on the producers and suppliers to tell us whether our food is safe to eat or not, instead of relying on our own sense, and senses. Another case of us losing our senses – losing the senses needed to tell if something is ok or not, and losing our good sense enough, that we cease to rely on our own senses, and be dictated to by companies who’s best interest is to get us to throw away and buy more.
This then got me thinking of the next step back in the chain of production. All those battery hens, existing in appalling conditions, to produce all those gazillions of eggs, which are said to be ‘needed’, but – how many of those, are thrown away?
Then next step back, all the resources needed to feed, house and clear up after all those chickens.
If so many eggs are thrown away, because the public are fooled into thinking they can’t tell the difference between an edible and an inedible egg ( and, believe me, the smell certainly tells you, once you crack one open), why not have reduced egg production, with less chickens, living reasonable lives, producing plenty of eggs, but not so many, that such waste is even possible? It seems simple enough.
What I’m asking the public to do is, learn the ways of testing whether eggs are ok, use your own good sense to tell you whether produce is ok to use – don’t follow the dictates of the suppliers, mindlessly – and there might be less waste.
Morning Bernie. Aye, it’s just a pity that so much food has to look perfect. A few years ago when we lived in Tiptree (of jam fame, what lovely aromas in Strawberry Jam season) an elderly aunt from Ireland was visiting and she came shopping with us, I had asked her to get half a dozen grapefruits and then noticed her rummaging through and examining every fruit which prompted me to ask, “What are you doing.” She gave me one of her withering looks for which she was infamous (retired primary school teacher) and said always look for fruit with small brownish blemishes for these are the sweetest fruit – she was right. Sadly this younger generation just doesn’t know but it’s not just the young I once caught my late brother-in-law going through their fridge checking ‘best before dates’ and ditching anything that was over date.
I also bought a ‘reduced for quick sale’ pineapple last December but it was not ripe enough to eat until the end of February!!! For those that don’t know, try pulling out a leaf from the top and if ready to eat then it will pull out easily.
Makes me wonder just how many other of these old tips are gradually being lost???
There’s an idea for an ‘Orkney News’ series, the – very useful – old ways and tips which are being lost.
Anyone interested in dong so? I bet Helen has handy hints to do with food and cookery. A good idea. Hmmmmmm
Remember the episode of ‘Fawlty Towers’ where Sybil gives the instruction “Tell Chef to remember to scrape the mould off the cheese” – and why not? We’ve all done it.