The United States of Convenience

I opened a San Diego friend’s fridge last week to grab myself a beer, and spotted two peeled, hard boiled eggs in a small Costco branded plastic bag on a shelf.

“What’s this?” I asked, “Pre-hard boiled eggs?”

Yep, that’s exactly what they were he confirmed. I burst out laughing.

“Only in America!”

My friend proceeded to justify their purchase, their very existence, on the basis of convenience for his extremely busy working wife, and that they were just as healthy for you as self boiled eggs.

Now the health benefits or otherwise… well, not being a food scientist and in the absence of finding any data via Google regarding this area, we’ll let this aspect slide for the moment, though if anyone has any verifiable facts on this area please drop me a comment below.

The convenience argument… I can certainly appreciate the point, being able to simply grab an egg from the fridge, no boiling, no peeling, just pop it in your mouth or onto a salad. As a mostly single bachelor I am a big fan of supermarket convenience food, and love the range of fairly healthy options that are available in many modern supermarkets nowadays, especially in the US. I do love cooking, but when you’re cooking for one more often than not… well the enjoyment isn’t quite the same. So a pre-chopped stir fry vegetable pack, and roasted chicken and a pre-washed salad bag, it all makes a lot of sense to me.

But, but, but…

Pre-boiled, peeled hard boiled eggs?

It just seems a step too far to me. That we’re so starved if time that we need to save the 5 minutes – well, maybe 6 if you add in the putting eggs and water in sausepan, bringing to boil – that it takes to boil an egg? And actually, if you do like I do and boil a half dozen or so at a time so I have them handy for a few days, then you’re talking about a minute an egg.

Are we really that rushed, that time poor that we need to save 60 seconds from boiling an egg?

I know, I know, it’s not really that big a deal, and each to their own and all that. However I can’t help but feel it’s just one more nail into the coffin of society’s general decline in health and well being, which for both the US and Australia is getting worse and worse. It seems a big red flag indicating that there’s simply no area in any aspect of our lives that we don’t want to boil down (intended pun) to making it just that little bit “more convenient”. And a little more… and a little more… and…

More convenient for what? So we have more time to sit in front of the TV and do nothing? 

Every new advance seems to be about making it “faster” for us, quicker to do things that didn’t really take that long to do in the first place. Oh and of course the other one is “bigger”. The special is always “Get 20% more free”, or “Buy 2 for the price of 1!” And it’s killing us. According to some recent data, literally.

Remember the fat people scene in the movie Wall-E? How far are we from there really…?

2 comments

  1. Costco sells those eggs for $3.99 for 2 dozen. That’s less than $2 a dozen. It’s hard to find raw eggs for that price in normal grocery stores. So it’s less expensive and more convenient, not to mention the energy savings in wasted water and gas/electric to boil a half dozen eggs at a time versus the efficiencies obtained with the economies of scale achieved with mass egg boiling. So it’s arguably a greener choice.

    This extra time saved can be used for more than TV watching or work. It’s used for more time with friends, family exercise and sports.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with convenience. Are you blogging with a pencil and paper or an old typewriter? Computers, smart phones, emails etc, have all added much welcomed convenience and efficiencies. It’s just that we associate convenience food with low quality, highly processed, junk food. Hard boiled eggs with a tiny bit of citric acid (vitamin C) as a preservative hardly fit this description. The people you saw with these eggs hardly fit the description of the fat Americans you link them to. Convenient healthy foods should be encouraged over candy and other junk food. People in our society are overweight because of over eating and lack of physical activity, pure and simple. Boiling your own eggs isn’t going to get you in better shape.

    For folks with plenty of extra time (like you) who long for simpler times of yesteryear or enjoy the ritual of boiling and peeling eggs, go for it, but in today’s modern times many of us have better things to do, like comment on your blog

    • First, if you got the gist of the article, it wasn’t specifically “eggs”, but what I think it may say about what we seem to be aiming for (Americans or anyone, same thing’s happening in Oz).

      Technology… those packaged eggs aren’t cooked and peeled manually… there’s good and bad, and it’s important that we recognise it before it’s too late. Today it’s hard boiled eggs to give us more time to… go to the gym, to work off the excess of food we eat because it’s so easy to eat lots. As a society we are getting fatter and fatter, undeniable fact. What will be made “easier” for us in 50 years, 100 years time, and how do we address this issue before it is too late? For ME (my personal view) seeing those eggs, if not a wake up call, is certainly a big reminder that something needs to change. Whether that be just for me, or whether I can help make a bigger positive impact somehow, time will judge.

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