Have you ever wondered how many people it takes to get a poached egg onto your breakfast plate?
When I was a small boy I knew everyone involved in the process at our place.
We had a henhouse full of chooks in the yard.
The bag of wheat came from my grandfather’s farm and the food scraps from the same kitchen I ate in. Often, I was the one feeding the chooks, gathering the eggs into a basket, and carrying them to my mother in the kitchen. She was responsible for that last important step of getting the eggs onto the plate – cooking. My father was responsible for chopping the wood that fuelled the stove in the kitchen.
These days, I need to appreciate a few more people for that poached egg on my breakfast plate.
For starters, there is no henhouse in the yard. The chooks that lay the eggs I eat live on a free-range poultry farm located on Kangaroo Island, where a team of people is responsible for their welfare, and collecting and packing the eggs.
A driver for a transport company picks up the eggs from the farm and delivers them to a distribution centre on the mainland, using the ferry service. From there, someone else transports the eggs to the shop, where they are unloaded for an assistant to place on the shelf, from which I pick them up.
Someone built the truck used to carry the eggs. Someone services that truck to keep it on the road. Someone built the shop that my greengrocer leases. My greengrocer employs the assistant that puts the eggs on the shelf and the one that takes my money when I purchase them.
I’m still the one carrying the eggs on their trip to the kitchen, but now they come in a special carton that someone had to make, and they are stored in the refrigerator until I’m ready to eat them. Someone designed and built that refrigerator, and there is an entire industry devoted to supplying the electricity required to operate it.
On the morning that I decide to have eggs for breakfast, I also need to be grateful to the company that supplies the gas powering my stove.
It’s a fairly intricate web of connections, isn’t it? And, it applies to any food we buy.
We have a lot to be grateful for when you consider how smoothly the system works – most of the time.
Images from OpenClipArt.org