Despicable Me

Happy egg after an overseas trip

Don’t let anybody tell you it started with the chicken. It was most definitely the egg. In fact, it was several of them, half a dozen to be exact. This was the first time in Dubai that I had to sell my earth-mother soul.

It’s quite the conundrum, because despite the fact that there are often fluffy fat chickens strutting around my suburban street, it is impossible to buy a local free range egg at the shop. And on that one pivotal day, I found myself locked in dilemma before the egg fridge.

Choice one: local eggs, in white or brown, added lutein or not. Large, small, in packs from 6 to 30, ranging from about 30 fils/egg to 1 dirham.

Choice two: organic local eggs, in white or brown, dozens or halves, about 1.50 dirhams each.

Choice 3: English or French free range eggs, half dozens, organic or not, mostly brown, vegetarian fed or not, starting at (gasp!) 3.40 dirhams an egg.

So….Do I save money, the chicken, our bodies, or the planet? Because realistically, I am not going to carbon-offset every box of eggs I buy. In the end, the chicken lost out – I cannot bring myself to eat eggs that have sprouted jetpacks and flown five and a half thousand kilometers to my frypan. And I am most certainly not going to pay 3.40 an egg to do that, so Hambone is relieved – the money is saved too. The poor old chicken lucked out, but I’ve gone organic (“organic fed” – I assume this means they are still allowed to inject them with non-organic matter), so possibly this means I am doing our bodies a favour.

crazy egg on drugs

Edwina from mezzaluna shared a similar experience, and actually found herself in tears at the fridge. But she’s a more gentle soul than me – I just got annoyed. She was also telling me that she had found a more reasonably priced Turkish brand free-range egg. I found the brand she meant, but could only see the organic fed option or selenium enriched. Which adds another question: how do they “enrich” an egg? Methinks poor chooky is getting more shots rather than the egg being injected.

This is only the start of the list of evil things I now freely participate in. The love of photolysis-resistant, virtually non-biodegradable polystyrene trays is uncanny. They use them for anything in the supermarket that does not already come wrapped in plastic, and often you might even come across things wrapped in plastic, then popped on a polystyrene tray, and then wrapped in plastic again. I’m sure one day I will see plastic bags wrapped in plastic, placed on a polystyrene tray and cling-wrapped.

I resisted for over a year, stopping the servers at the deli or butcher and asking them for a plastic bag instead (no such thing as paper here), always selecting fruit and veggies of the bulk pile and taking them in a plastic bag to be weighed and priced. But one day I was in a hurry and picked up the pre-packed broccoli, and i eventually got tired of the people behind the counters gaping at me like I’d lost my marbles. I still avoid them where I can, and I have a stack of them washed and saved in my cupboard for use as paint palettes for Goldilocks. But theres no excuse – they are in my home, and eroding the conscience of my former green self.

sad egg out of a sad chook

My fight with the eggs was not my only carbon footprint episode. Every day I have to buy fruits and vegetables that have been shipped in from all over the world. The UAE do produce a few things – tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, dates. But all are watered with either desalinated water (the de-sal plants are powered by burning oil), or by rapidly depleting groundwater. My soul is sold either way.

Then of course there is summer. Our A/C unit runs 24/7 for 6 months of the year, with only one or two months where it is off completely. There is no rain, so our garden requires hosing daily, twice in summer. And we have a gardener who loves to water our driveway despite my continual protests and ranting at him. Now he just waits till the crazy woman leaves and then comes and has his naughty way with our hose, leaving enormous wet expanses on the concrete that evaporate into the air only ever to be seen again as cursed summer humidity.

Oh, and I drive a V8 4X4 because the roads are crazy and I need something with a high outlook that moves me quickly out of danger from passing idiocy, or if it doesn’t, then at least protects me with layers of steel and airbags. Plus it makes me feel tall.

And don’t get me started on recycling. In fact do. Next post, recycling in Dubai – does it actually happen?

9 Comments

  1. Your conundrum is a serious, shared by all of us who have come from homelands that have less severe weather. Never mind… one day the world will end… just make the best choices for you till then!

  2. That poster of Sheikh Mohammed between Ibn Battuta and Jebel Ali makes me laugh every time. "The world will thank him for his green efforts" or similar. Surely the greenest thing he could have done is not build Dubai at all.In any case, green is the wrong colour in Dubai where the natural colour is sandy yellow.

  3. Luke, you are even more cynical than me. I have hope, but wish they would start with the small and easy things – let's leave masdar for when we can buy our turkey ham wrapped in paper.

  4. Oh Sarah, my soul mate you! I have faced all these conundrums, have shed a tear in the fruit and veggie section of our local supermarkets and simply cannot find a way round all these issues living in the desert. Only thing to do is move somewhere where we can grow our own…..maybe one day.

  5. Back in Tanznia, I never once had these ''conundrums''……eggs were literally laid in our back garden. Now I just compromise because we eat so much egg for brekkie and bake, I buy the ''organic fed'' hen eggs. The tregor ones are simply to overpriced!

  6. I struggle with this too. I live in Northern Canada where everything is trucked in from so far away. I guess we all do our part with our circumstances. It's frustrating though.P.S. Great pics.

  7. Catholic upbringing guilt means I am constantly stressed at the supermarket! I fork out for the flown-in happy hen eggs though. If someone actually did an investigation on those spooky sheds out in the desert that contain thousands of living creatures (and how they are halal slaughtered) they'd be deported methinks. I knew someone in chicken industry here – not pretty. Join Hugh's Chicken out campaign to make a difference in Europe and it might have an influence here (in a few decades). Rant over!

  8. we just picked up organically fed, but locally sourced, eggs yesterday! i am always struggling with the choices we have here – to make an authentic traditional dish the ingredients I use are always sourced from 3 to 4 countries outside the emirates. but i usually look out for things grown on local farms or even close by say oman… i think if we buy local, in time we create a good consumer market for local goods where we as consumers can have a say – for more organic foods for example. For me local should be the catchword cos while organic is good, importing food by airplane has a carbon footprint 6 times larger than getting by road. you inspire me to post something similar languishing in my drafts!!!

  9. Mentioned your blog on the Expat Echo Dubai :)http://www.expatechodubai.com/directories/dubai-bloggers/

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