As I flipped the calendar page last week, it was a strange feeling to realize it was the last page. Soon it will be time to open our 2017 calendars. I’ve actually been carrying around two calendars since before fair time to begin planning programs and pencil in dates for this winter. Remember when everyone carried a little pocket calendar in their front shirt pockets or in their purses? I still like to hold a planning calendar in my hands rather than look at it on my phone.
Calendars also make me think of my Grandpa Buxton. He recorded an important number each day on the calendar that hung above the sink at the shed. Every day he wrote down how many eggs he collected.
I have fond memories of collecting eggs with my grandpa and helping to carefully wash them. I thought of that this week when I read an article released from Penn State. They conducted a study and found that eggs from small flocks of chickens are more likely to be contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis than eggs sold in grocery stores.
Researchers purchased eggs from 240 randomly selected farmers markets or roadside markets. Salmonella was only found in eggs purchased from 2 percent of the selling points, which was only 5 selling points. Salmonella was found in the shell of eggs from one and in the internal contents of the eggs from the other 4 locations.
I think that is surprising to some people that Salmonella can actually be found inside of the egg. It can be laid by the hen this way. There are some practices that small flock owners can do to better manage for the prevention of Salmonella. Purchasing chicks that have been approved by the National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) is a great starting point. You should also practice good rodent control and sanitation of your coop.
And even if you don’t raise chickens, chances are that you cook and eat eggs. Proper cooking will destroy Salmonella. According to the American Egg Board, even light cooking will begin to destroy any Salmonella that might be present. However, when cooking eggs both time and temperature are important. Fried eggs should be cooked slowly and either turned or the pan should be covered with a lid. Cook until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken, but they do not have to be hard. Poached eggs should also be cooked until the whites are completely set and the yolks begin to thicken. And if you add eggs to ice cream mixes, be sure to slowly heat the eggs that you add or use an already pasteurized egg product.
Remember that certain segments of the population are at a higher risk for foodborne illness from pathogenic, or disease causing, bacteria. Young children, elderly, pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems need to be especially careful.
Today I’ll leave you with this anonymous quote, “The same boiling water that softens the potato hardens the egg. It’s about what you’re made of, not the circumstances.”
(This article first appeared in the Coshocton Tribune on December 11, 2016)